On Tuesday's Today show, a couple of correspondents laid down the potential story line of a big defeat for Sarah Palin if the Republican Tea Party candidate she endorsed, Joe Miller, doesn't win his bid for the Senate seat in Alaska as NBC's Chuck Todd proclaimed: "Sarah Palin's political future is a little bit on the line" and added "this would be a big embarrassment," while NBC's Kristen Welker declared: "the race is also a referendum on Sarah Palin." Welker also featured a sound bite from a political analyst noting a Miller defeat would mean a "black eye" for the former Alaska Governor. Of course the question has to be asked, if Miller defeats write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, will Todd and Welker go the other way and admit it was a huge win for Palin and the Tea Party?
During a preview of the key races on Election Day, Today co-anchor Matt Lauer asked political director Chuck Todd for his take on the Alaska Senate race, as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: Alaska it seemed, a couple of weeks ago-
CHUCK TODD: Yeah.
LAUER: -it seemed Joe Miller had this thing wrapped up. Now people are saying Lisa Murkowski has made a comeback. Is this a toss-up at this stage?
TODD: You know it's one of those, it's a toss-up because nobody is quite sure how this is gonna work out. Will people go in there and figure out how to write Murkowski's name? I'll tell ya Sarah Palin's political future is a little bit on the line. If Lisa Murkowski is able to show all these Republican men, "Hey I stood up to Sarah Palin and I took her on and I beat her. That's the way you do it," this would be a big embarrassment for Sarah Palin if she can't pull this one off.
Before the Todd segment, Welker predicted political jeopardy for Palin, in the following report that was aired on the November 2, Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Alaska's three-way Senate race is one of the most watched in the country and that has a lot to do with someone who isn't even on the ballot, Sarah Palin. NBC's Kristen Welker is in Anchorage with more. Kristen, good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "Decision Day 2010, Is Today's Election A Referendum On Sarah Palin"]
KRISTEN WELKER: Good morning to you Meredith. Well, Sarah Palin has certainly inserted herself into this Senate race which has many wondering what the results could mean for her future. Alaska's Senate candidates making their final push. Joe Miller, the Republican Tea Party favorite is struggling against write-in candidate and incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski. If the Republican vote is split, that could help Democrat Scott McAdams. But the race is also a referendum on Sarah Palin. She's thrown her support behind Miller and helped him take the GOP nomination from Murkowski this summer. But now polls show Miller is faltering.
MICHAEL CAREY, POLITICAL ANALYST: If Murkowski wins, this will be a black eye for Sarah Palin.
WELKER: Political analysts say Palin's national reputation would be bruised by a loss in her homes state, where
CAREY: You have to remember, Sarah Palin beat Lisa Murkowski's father, that's how she became governor. So it may be rooted in original sins.
WELKER: Murkowski has brushed aside any personal politics with Palin.
LISA MURKOWSKI: I'm running against Joe Miller and Scott McAdams and that's my focus.
WELKER: Palin has ratcheted up her rhetoric in recent days. Lashing out at the local media for what she called unfair treatment of Miller.
SARAH PALIN: Those are corrupt bastards, Chris.
WELKER: Nationally Palin's been on the front line in leading the GOP attacks on President Obama.
PALIN: How's that hopey-changey stuff working out for ya?
WELKER: The Democrats have taken notice, with the DNC taking out internet ads Monday, urging Democratic voters "Don't Let Palin Win." All this as Palin ponders a run for 2012.
PALIN: If there's nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.
WELKER: Palin is now fired up about a Politico article that claimed GOP leaders are trying to, quote, "stop her from running in 2012 because they're afraid she would lose to President Obama." According to the conservative website, The Daily Caller, Palin called Politico reporters, "puppy kicking, chain smoking porn producers," for not naming their sources.
PALIN: If they would man up and if they would, you know make these claims against me, then I can debate them, I can talk about it. But when they're just - to me it's they're making stuff up again.
WELKER: Now in one of Palin's latest tweets, she calls today "Freedom Day." As for the race itself, if that write in option comes out on top or if the results are close, polling officials will have to count all of those write in ballots by hand, which means we might not know the winner here in Alaska for weeks. Meredith?
VIEIRA: Oh great. Kristen Welker, thank you very much.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here