Everyone on NBC's Today show payroll ignored foul-mouthed comedian Bill Maher's $1 million donation to an Obama super PAC -- but NBC's Andrea Mitchell went to extravagant lengths on Wednesday to tie Mitt Romney as closely as possible to supporter Ted Nugent, after Nugent made headlines for controversial comments about President Obama. The lone mention of Bill Maher on the Today show in 2012 was from guest host Sarah Palin on April 3.
This manifests a complete partisan double-standard on the part of NBC as they scrutinized the ties between a Republican and his supporter but left it to a conservative guest host to address the rhetoric of the Obama super PAC donor who has repeatedly spewed vile insults at Republican women. And Palin didn't even mention Maher's donation, only his harsh words.
Even ABC's George Stephanopoulos addressed conservative concerns on Sunday's This Week, as he wondered if Maher is a "continuing problem" for Obama and asked if the President "is going to have to cut ties" with the comedian.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday's morning coverage the other major networks, CBS and ABC, either ignored the Nugent story or barely covered it. The Today show spent a total of four and a half minutes on Nugent's remarks and his ties to Mitt Romney, but CBS This Morning did not even mention it and ABC's Good Morning America gave it a 25-second brief.
In her segment that ran over three minutes, NBC's Andrea Mitchell did her level best to connect Mitt Romney with Ted Nugent and his "threatening and obscene comments" as closely as possible. For instance, Mitchell admitted that the Romney campaign "disavowed" the remarks, but added "it may not be that easy to ignore the outrageous words of hard-rocker Ted Nugent."
The closest Mitchell got in connecting the two was reporting that Romney and Nugent shared a close conversation, after which Nugent endorsed Romney and the candidate and his son showed their enthusiasm for the endorsement.
She noted that Nugent's remarks came at the same NRA event attended by Romney, although a day later.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 18 at 7:00 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
MATT LAUER: Scratch him. Mitt Romney distancing himself from supporter and rocker Ted Nugent after Nugent made some very harsh comments about President Obama and his cabinet.
TED NUGENT: Our President and Attorney General, our Vice President, Hillary Clinton, they're criminals. They're criminals.
LAUER: Angry speech, and we'll tell you which part of it is even getting the attention of the Secret Service.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And now to presidential politics. Mitt Romney's campaign is dealing with fallout over controversial statements made by one of his high-profile supporters, rock musician Ted Nugent. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has the details on that. Andrea, good morning to you.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Savannah. Once again, the political world is buzzing about controversial comments by one of a presidential candidate's supporters. This time, threatening and obscene comments about President Obama by a Romney supporter that were disavowed by the Republican campaign. But it may not be that easy to ignore the outrageous words of hard-rocker Ted Nugent.
MITCHELL: (voice-over) Rocker Ted Nugent, the self-proclaimed "Motor City madman," makes no secret of his long-standing contempt for Barack Obama. Here is Nugent in 2007.
TED NUGENT: Obama, he's a piece of s***, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for him.
MITCHELL: Still, Mitt Romney welcomed Nugent's endorsement last month when asked about it on a St. Louis radio station.
MARK REARDON, host, the Mark Reardon Radio Show: Ted Nugent, he said he had a great conversation with you. And if Ted says you're okay, he endorsed you, I'm pretty tempted to do the same thing.
MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: Boy, that's good to hear. Yeah, it's been fun getting to know him, that's Ted Nugent –
MITCHELL: Nugent delivered his endorsement on Twitter on March 2, tweeting "after a long heart&soul conversation with Mitt Romney today I concluded this goodman will properly represent we the people & I endorsed him."
Romney's son Tad tweeted less than two hours later "Ted Nugent endorsed my dad today. Ted Nugent? How cool is that?! He joins Kid Rock as great Detroit musicians on Team Mitt!"
On Saturday at the National Rifle Association convention, which Romney also attended the day before –
ROMNEY: I will protect the Second Amendment rights of the American people.
MITCHELL: – Nugent urged the crowd to support the likely GOP nominee, and delivered a violent rant against the President, the cabinet, and liberal members of the Supreme Court.
NUGENT: We got a President and an Attorney General who doesn't even like the Constitution. We got four Supreme Court justices who don't believe in the Constitution.
If you can't galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we're done. We'll be a suburb of Indonesia next year.
Our President and Attorney General, our Vice President, Hillary Clinton, they're criminals. They're criminals.
We are Braveheart! We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November!
MITCHELL: That raised questions for the White House.
JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: I think the President has said, and I and others have said that we can't be policing the statements of supporters across the board.
MITCHELL: The Romney campaign issued a statement saying "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil."
(End Video Clip)
MITCHELL: (on camera) But they did not mention Ted Nugent by name, and last night the Romney campaign told NBC News that contrary to Nugent's claims, they never solicited his endorsement. Although clearly they were pleased about it at the time. The Secret Service said it is following up on Nugent's violent speech, but they have not launched a formal investigation.