After all three broadcast networks initially ignored offensive comments from former Democratic Montana Governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate Brian Schweitzer claiming outgoing Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor set off his "gaydar," on Friday, NBC's Today took notice of gaffe, with correspondent Peter Alexander declaring: "...a tough-talking Montana Democrat known for being unscripted is apologizing after he managed to offend Democrats, Republicans, gays, and southerners all at once." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander described how Cantor "became the target of an attack that was both ugly and unfounded," with Schweitzer "slinging the mud." Alexander proceeded to quote the "shoot-from-the-lip" former governor's rambling comments about Cantor: "I'm fine with gay people, that's all right – but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think..."
Continuing the full report on the controversy, Alexander identified Schweitzer as "a liberal Democrat and MSNBC contributor" who was "Also crudely implying [Senator] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] was being hypocritical in her criticism of U.S. spying programs, even comparing her to a prostitute."
After noting that Schweitzer had apologized via Facebook for his "carelessness and disregard," Alexander wrapped up the segment by adding: "Schweitzer, by the way, also said he found southern men effeminate. So for a guy considering a possible presidential run....not exactly the kind of rollout that you're looking for."
Co-host Savannah Guthrie agreed: "Yeah, good luck with that South Carolina primary."
Neither CBS This Morning nor ABC's Good Morning America covered the controversy on Friday.
Here is a full transcript of the June 20 report:
7:15 AM ET
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, a potential presidential candidate is under fire this morning for making controversial comments about several members of Congress. This as House Republicans announce their new leadership following Eric Cantor's stunning primary defeat. NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander has more on that. Peter, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Former Governor's "Gaydar" Gaffe; Controversial Remarks Lead to Apology]
PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. So as we've discussed, John Boehner remains House Speaker, but the Republicans have now officially decided on the leaders who will work behind him.
Also today, a tough-talking Montana Democrat known for being unscripted is apologizing after he managed to offend Democrats, Republicans, gays, and southerners all at once.
House Republicans have nailed down their new leadership lineup. California Congressman Kevin McCarthy will replace Eric Cantor as the number two Republican. Majority Leader McCarthy is one of the GOP's so-called "young guns," along with Paul Ryan.
But on the way out after his stunning primary defeat, Cantor, the married father of three, became the target of an attack that was both ugly and unfounded. Slinging the mud, Montana's shoot-from-the-lip former Governor Brian Schweitzer, who in the National Journal seemed to question Cantor's sexuality. "If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and saw Eric Cantor talking, Schweitzer said, "I would say – and I would say I'm fine with gay people, that's all right – but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting."
Marin Cogan conducted the interview.
MARIN COGAN [NATIONAL JOURNAL]: For me, I was just sort of a little bewildered. And he can be a really engaging and gregarious sort of guy. But I just sort of wondered what he meant. Because it was such an unexpected place for the conversation to go.
ALEXANDER: But Schweitzer, a liberal Democrat and MSNBC contributor, wasn't done. Also crudely implying Dianne Feinstein was being hypocritical in her criticism of U.S. spying programs, even comparing her to a prostitute. Feinstein's reply? "You better keep him away from my husband."
Late Thursday, Schweitzer, who said he's mulling over a presidential run, apologized on his Facebook page for what he called "a number of stupid and insensitive remarks." Writing, "I'm deeply sorry and sincerely apologize for my carelessness and disregard."
As for Eric Cantor, his office said they would have nothing to say about Schweitzer's comments.
Schweitzer, by the way, also said he found southern men effeminate. So for a guy considering a possible presidential run, Matt and Savannah, not exactly the kind of rollout that you're looking for.
GUTHRIE: Yeah, good luck with that South Carolina primary. Peter, thank you very much.