NBC's "Today" show has yet to report on the scandal surrounding Florida Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney paying off a former mistress, but on Wednesday's show David Gregory did find time to report on Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann being in "hot water," for her criticisms of Barack Obama on last Friday's "Hardball."
Furthering the story his NBC colleague Chris Matthews started with Bachmann's "Hardball," interview, co-anchor Matt Lauer introduced the Gregory piece: "Call it a million dollar mistake. A controversial congressman, congresswoman went on television and said some things she probably regrets. And her remarks, then helped her opponent raise a staggering amount of money."
In the piece Gregory aired a portion of the interview where Matthews pushed Bachmann to say Obama and liberal members of Congress were anti-American, even though Bachmann originally was referring to the anti-American beliefs of Obama's associates like Bill Ayers. After Gregory showed a clip of Bachmann saying her statements were misconstrued, the NBC correspondent painted Bachmann's outspoken conservative views as a negative, "Bachmann's views -- she has said that gay people suffer from sexual dysfunction and doesn't believe in global warming -- have made her a lightning rod."
The following is the full transcript of the report as it occurred on the October 22nd edition of the "Today" show:
MATT LAUER: Call it a million dollar mistake. A controversial congressman, congresswoman went on television and said some things she probably regrets. And her remarks, then helped her opponent raise a staggering amount of money. NBC's David Gregory has more on this story for us. Hi, David, good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "Million-Dollar Mistake? Congresswoman's Remarks Fire Up Critics."]
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Matt. Well she's been called the Sarah Palin of Minnesota. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is making a splash in some very hot water. A rising star in the state, Bachmann quickly emerged as the most conservative member of Congress. Last year she grabbed her first Youtube moment when she literally grabbed a hold of President Bush before his State of the Union address and seemed not to want to let go. Like Governor Palin, Bachmann is the mother of five children. She's taken in 23 foster children over the years. A devout Christian with staunch anti-abortion views and a strong proponent of drilling for oil in Alaska. And, like Palin, she's outspoken when speaking about Senator Obama.
MICHELE BACHMANN: I'm, I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: How many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti-American? You've already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-American?
BACHMANN: I, I think, I, what I would say, what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America or anti-America. I think people would be, would love to see an expose like that.
GREGORY: Democrats pounced and as she faces reelection Bachmann's words are proving costly. The interview became the basis of a TV ad, helping her opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg raise nearly a $1 million from 18,000 new donors since Friday.
ELWYN TINKLENBERG: We think we were already moving in a position where we could win this race, she has simply strengthened that position.
STU ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: In this political environment, if you're a Republican incumbent you don't want any attention focused on you.
GREGORY: Bachmann declined our request for an interview, but in an interview on Monday she backpedaled, sort of.
BACHMANN: So this has been completely misconstrued to say that I believe members of Congress are anti-American. I never said that. I said the media should look into it. I also didn't say that Barack Obama is anti-American. What I said is that the media should look into his views.
GREGORY: Bachmann's views -- she has said that gay people suffer from sexual dysfunction and doesn't believe in global warming -- have made her a lightning rod. Even her spokeswoman says voters either love her or hate her.
NICK COLEMAN, STAR TRIBUNE COLUMNIST: I think Michele Bachmann, unfortunately, is one of those politicians who doesn't really understand the boundaries of common sense and sometimes common decency.
GREGORY: And this morning another Republican member of Congress is apologizing for attacking liberals. A congressman from North Carolina said, at a John McCain rally, quote, "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God." Matt?
LAUER: Alright David, thanks very much. David Gregory in Washington this morning.