After NBC’s Today spent three straight days scolding Donald Trump for even thinking about mentioning Bill Clinton’s habitual mistreatment of women, on Wednesday, the morning show had no trouble doing the Clinton campaign’s bidding by touting allegations of Trump’s “sexist behavior.”
Early in the program, correspondent Peter Alexander led off the political coverage by declaring: “Donald Trump now has 11 days to try to improve on his debate performance, but he’s already fueling new questions about his judgment and temperament, all of it about a new feud with a former Miss Universe, 20 years later, still criticizing her as overweight. And the Clinton campaign thinks it can capitalize.”
The reporter added: “This morning for the first time we’re hearing from Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who says Trump repeatedly bullied her for gaining weight after she was crowned at the age of 19.”
In a discussion that followed, Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin highlighted how Trump gave Clinton “plenty to work with” in the debate. He noted: “I initially thought there wasn't an oops moment for him, but there was, I think, in his attack on the former Miss Universe.”
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Co-host Savannah Guthrie followed up: “Did he kind of transform this into a second-day story by saying, ‘Well, she gained so much weight,’ etcetera, etcetera?” Halperin asserted that press would keep pushing the story:
He’s transformed it not just into just a second-day story, but a third-day story, and I think, a fourth-day story. This is going to be a real test to see – if he thinks this is gonna go away, I think he’s wrong. And the Clinton people have no intention of letting it go away. It affects peoples perceptions of him about women, about Hispanics, but also about whether he’s a gracious person.
During that segment, Halperin also warned Trump not to focus on the Clinton scandals, dismissing the litany of controversies as a “distraction.”
At the top of the 7:30 ET half hour, Access Hollywood anchor Natalie Morales appeared on the show to promote her interview with Alicia Machado: “Machado says she was surprised to hear Hillary Clinton bring up her story on live national TV, but she is an enthusiastic Clinton supporter who is adding her voice to the list of women who have accused Donald Trump of sexist behavior over the years.”
Machado says Trump's insults contributed to an eating disorder that she struggled for years to overcome. And while Machado says she didn't know Clinton planned on telling her story during the debate...she did participate in this ad, released by the Clinton campaign immediately after the debate....The latest controversy about Trump and sexism on the heels of another Clinton campaign ad featuring young girls looking at themselves in the mirror....[Machdo] says she's thinking of her young daughter when she considers the prospect of a Trump presidency.
After the report, Matt Lauer repeated Halperin’s prediction that “this is going to be more than a one or two-day story.”
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Lauer and Guthrie took turns demanding Trump not use Bill Clinton’s sex scandals as a campaign issue.
While the NBC morning show was very concerned about Trump “fat-shaming” Machado, the broadcast argued on two separate occasions that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was too fat to run for president and needed to lose weight:
> During a panel discussion in 2011, Guthrie proclaimed: “There's kind of this conventional wisdom among the political chattering class that someone as heavy as Chris Christie would not be elected.”
> In another roundtable discussion on the show in 2013, co-host Willie Geist argued the Governor would be a “shoo-in” for the GOP nomination “if he didn't weigh what he weighed right now.”
ABC’s Good Morning America displayed the same hypocrisy on Wednesday.
Here is a full transcript of Morales’s interview with Machado aired on the September 28 Today:
7:20 AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Just ahead, taking on Trump. What the former Miss Universe is saying to NBC News about being at the center of the newest campaign controversy.
7:32 AM ET SEGMENT:
MATT LAUER: Now to another campaign moment getting a lot of attention. As we mentioned, during the debate, Hillary Clinton brought up the name of Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996, as evidence of Donald Trump’s attitude toward women. Natalie [Morales] has more of her interview with Alicia. Natalie, good morning.
NATALIE MORALES: Good morning to you, Matt. Well, Alicia Machado says she was surprised to hear Hillary Clinton bring up her story on live national TV, but she is an enthusiastic Clinton supporter who is adding her voice to the list of women who have accused Donald Trump of sexist behavior over the years.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Former Miss Universe vs. Trump; Fights Back Against Trump’s Fat-Shaming Comments]
HILLARY CLINTON: She has a name.
DONALD TRUMP: Where did you find her? Where did you find her?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado and she has become a U.S. citizen and you can bet she's going to vote this November.
TRUMP: Okay, good.
MORALES: What were the names that he called you?
ALICIA MACHADO: “Miss Piggy, Miss housekeeping, Miss Eating Machine.”
MORALES: All to your face?
MACHADO: Yes, all the time. That was really normal for him in that moment. You know, 18 years old, when you are growing up, that was horrible for me. I was – my self-esteem on the floor.
MORALES: Machado says Trump's insults contributed to an eating disorder that she struggled for years to overcome. And while Machado says she didn't know Clinton planned on telling her story during the debate...
MACHADO: It was a real surprise for me.
MORALES: ...she did participate in this ad, released by the Clinton campaign immediately after the debate.
MACHADO [CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD]: He’d yell at me all the time. He’d tell me, “You look ugly,” or, “You look fat.”
MORALES: Trump's response, attacking Machado on Fox & Friends.
TRUMP: She was the worst we ever had, the worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible.
MORALES: Mr. Trump immediately today said you're no Mother Teresa and he alluded to your past.
MACHADO: I'm not pretend to be Mother Teresa. I know they will trying to distractions about my story [sic]. This happened 20 years ago and that happened. And that's it.
MORALES: In 1997, Trump brought cameras to film Machado exercising and discussing her weight in an interview with Howard Stern.
TRUMP: She gained about 55 pounds in a period of nine months. She was like an eating machine.
MORALES: Machado called it a lie saying she gained only a total of 18 pounds after her pageant win. The latest controversy about Trump and sexism on the heels of another Clinton campaign ad featuring young girls looking at themselves in the mirror.
TRUMP [CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD]: I'd look her right in that fat ugly face of hers.
MORALES: Machado, recently profiled by Cosmopolitan.com, says she's thinking of her young daughter when she considers the prospect of a Trump presidency. She told me in her native Spanish that the Trump we see on television seems no different than the man she knew 20 years ago.
MACHADO [SPEAKING SPANISH]: That same person I knew, I see in each one of his speeches. And I see it getting worse and I see it even more harmful and even more damaging.
MORALES: And we should mention, Machado says she is not being paid by the Clinton campaign or compensated in any way. Matt and Savannah?
LAUER: Alright, Natalie, thank you very much. As Mark Halperin says, he thinks this is going to be more than a one or two-day story.
GUTHRIE: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes.