On Thursday, both NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning eagerly seized on the left-wing New York Daily News hurling a vulgar insult at Ted Cruz as he kicked off his primary campaign in the Empire State. Employing a subway pun, the cover of the tabloid screamed: “Take the F U Train, Ted!”
At the top of Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie sarcastically declared, “Welcome to New York,” as she noted: “Ted Cruz gets a chilly reception at his first New York City event...” A soundbite played of a protester demanding the GOP candidate “Get out of the Bronx!”
In the report that followed minutes later, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted how “Bronx protesters told Cruz to hit the road at a campaign stop.” One woman could be heard ranting: “This is an immigrant community! An immigrant community!” Another woman shouted: “Did you get you Bronx visa? You’re not allowed in the Bronx! Get out of the Bronx!” Alexander smugly concluded: “Getting more of a Bronx jeer than cheer over his immigration platform.”
Wrapping up the segment, Alexander held up a copy of the Daily News and announced:
It’s going to be a bruising next 12 days as these candidates get the New York tabloid treatment. They didn’t wait long, here it is, the pulse of the city right out of the gates right now from this morning's Daily News, “Take the [F U] Train, Ted!” as you can see colorfully as only New York tabloid’s can do it.
The headline prompted laughter throughout the studio and co-host Matt Lauer quipped that it was “a hit with our crew, clearly.”
Leading off CBS This Morning, the Daily News cover appeared on screen as co-host Charlie Rose proclaimed: “And the big apple bites back at Ted Cruz over his comments about New York values.”
Introducing the later report on the campaign, fellow co-host Gayle King asserted: “Ted Cruz received a cold, cold welcome when his campaign rolled here into New York City. Page one of this morning's Daily News says it all, I guess. After a student protest apparently forced Cruz to cancel his visit to a high school in the Bronx yesterday.”
Correspondent Major Garrett framed the story: “New York values and what do they mean? Not surprisingly, to New York voters, that’s tough terrain for Ted Cruz, who is already taking heat on this front.” The headline on screen throughout the segment hyped: “The Empire Strikes Back; Cruz Faces Unwelcoming Audience on Trump Home Turf.”
Garrett highlighted: “Campaigning in the Bronx, Cruz was reportedly forced to cancel an event at a local high school, after students there threatened a walk-out, but a change of venue didn't quiet his critics.” A clip played of the protester telling Cruz to “Get out of the Bronx!”
While ABC’s Good Morning America avoided the Daily News cover, co-host George Stephanopoulos did sit down for an interview with Cruz and grilled the Senator on protesters attacking him as “anti-immigrant.”
Thursday’s cover was not the first offensive attack on Cruz by the Daily News. In January, the paper told the GOP contender to “Drop Dead” and displayed an image of the Statue of Liberty giving him the middle finger.
Here is a full transcript of Alexander’s April 7 report on Today:
7:00 AM ET TEASE:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Welcome to New York.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Get out of the Bronx!
GUTHRIE: Ted Cruz gets a chilly reception at his first New York City event and Donald Trump tries to make Cruz's past words haunt him.
DONALD TRUMP: Talking about New York values with scorn on his face, with hatred – with hatred of New York.
7:05 AM ET SEGMENT:
MATT LAUER: Let's take a look at the Republican side. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz held events here in New York and they had really different feels. NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander has more on that. Peter, good morning to you.
PETER ALEXANDER: Matt and Savannah, good morning, nice to see both of you. After showing signs of weakness in Wisconsin, Donald Trump is now definitively enjoying the home court advantage here. Looking to rebound from that loss with a raucous rally, it was in the New York suburbs, Trump seems re-energized by what was an overwhelming reception.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump & Cruz Take New York; Big Crowds, Protests for GOP Candidates]
Like a night at Madison Square Garden, Donald Trump basking in the New York spotlight.
DONALD TRUMP: It’s great to be home. This is home, it’s great to be home.
ALEXANDER: In front of 10,000 supporters on New York’s Long Island, the Republican frontrunner interrupted far more often by cheering fans than angry protesters.
TRUMP: I love these people! These are my people!
ALEXANDER: Taunting his rival.
TRUMP: You know, lyin’ Ted Cruz came today. He couldn't draw 100 people.
CROWD: Lyin’ Ted! Lyin’ Ted!
TRUMP: Do you remember during the debate when he started lecturing me on New York values like we’re no good. Like we’re no good.
ALEXANDER: Earlier, Ted Cruz trying to clarify those comments, insisting Trump’s a New York liberal.
TED CRUZ: The people of New York know exactly what those values are, they’re the values of liberal Democratic politicians like Andrew Cuomo, like Anthony Weiner, like Eliot Spitzer.
ALEXANDER: And firing back at Trump for accusing Cruz and party bosses of trying to steal the nomination.
CRUZ: Donald can always be counted on to take the high road and to demonstrate class.
ALEXANDER: But Bronx protesters told Cruz to hit the road at a campaign stop.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN A: This is an immigrant community! An immigrant community!
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: Did you get you Bronx visa? You’re not allowed in the Bronx! Get out of the Bronx!
ALEXANDER: Getting more of a Bronx jeer than cheer over his immigration platform.
Despite his Wisconsin loss, the Empire State is embracing Trump. 52% of Republicans behind him. Still, Trump's path to the nomination is hardly a sure thing. To reach the magic number of delegates needed to avoid a contested convention in Cleveland, Trump must win 58% of the 822 remaining delegates. His top aides huddling privately with the campaign’s new delegate coordinator Wednesday. The billionaire getting a boost from his most dependable advocate, daughter Ivanka, introducing him just nine days after giving birth to her son Theodore.
IVANKA TRUMP: I will tell you, it was not easy to leave him for so much as a minute to be here, but it was incredibly important to me that I did.
ALEXANDER: It was quite a night. It’s going to be a bruising next 12 days as these candidates get the New York tabloid treatment. They didn’t wait long, here it is, the pulse of the city right out of the gates right now from this morning's Daily News, “Take the [F U] Train, Ted!” as you can see colorfully as only New York tabloid’s can do it.
LAUER: And a hit with our crew, clearly. The goal right now for Ted Cruz and John Kasich, if you will, it’s not about winning states, it’s about holding the delegate count down for Donald Trump.
ALEXANDER: That’s exactly right. The same way that Ted Cruz out of Wisconsin said, “This is a turning point,” it’s obviously a little tougher for Donald Trump today than it was before Wisconsin. But two weeks from now, after New York, it could get a whole lot easier. In a single night, Trump could win almost two and a half times as many delegates as Cruz won in Wisconsin. Think of New York as 27 different small elections in all the congressional districts. They don't have to beat Trump, they just have to keep him below 50% to start picking away delegates left and right.
LAUER: Alright, Peter Alexander. Peter, thank you.