Lauer to Bill's Defense: 'Nothing to Do With Race'

To know what's on a morning-show anchor's mind, it's often easy to read between the lines. Katie Couric famously employed the "some say" technique to put her own views in the mouths of unidentified others.

But it's relatively uncommon to hear an anchor flatly express an opinion in the way Matt Lauer did this morning. The topic was whether there were racial overtones to Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" tirade directed at Barack Obama in the closing days of the New Hampshire campaign. Matt's guests were radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and former Clinton advisor Paul Begala.

View video here.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: There's a tightrope that they're [the Clinton campaign] walking. Because criticism of Barack Obama is perceived in certain quarters as having a racial connotation. Look at Bill Clinton referring [view YouTube] to this as a "fairy tale" story and Donna Brazile quickly says as an African-American female she's "depressed" about that.

MATT LAUER: Which had nothing to do with race.

SMERCONISH: I agree. Has nothing to do with race.

LAUER: You could say it's a fairy tale on Mitt Romney's side. You could say it's a fairy tale on Rudy Giuliani's side.

SMERCONISH: Absolutely.

On the one hand, I agree with Lauer and Smerconish. While Clinton looked angry, I didn't read a racial angle into his remarks. But query whether Lauer be so quick to vouch for the bona fides of a Republican in similar circumstances.

Race Issues Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential Racism NBC Today Video Michael Smerconish Donna Brazile