In an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer used attack lines from deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter to question the honesty of Paul Ryan's vice presidential nomination acceptance speech: "[She] said, 'Forty minutes of vitriol and half a dozen previously debunked attacks.' Was it an honest speech or was it just a campaign convention speech?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
This is the same Stephanie Cutter who in July made the wild accusation that Mitt Romney was a felon. In an interview with Cutter shortly after that outrageous comment, Lauer failed to even mention the remark, let alone challenge her on it.
In a Tuesday 10 a.m. et NBC News special report on President Obama declaring a state of emergency for Gulf Coast states in the path of Hurricane Isaac, Today co-host Matt Lauer gushed: "Politics 101, you've got your opponents in Tampa and Mitt Romney's about to tell Americans why he should be elected president, if you're the president, you go out and act like the president." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Meet the Press host David Gregory agreed: "Yeah, you do your job." As they both anchored the coverage from the Republican National Convention, Gregory observed that Obama's statement "...happens as there's so much anxiety here among the campaign and the party organizers about how to approach this and the optics of a split-screen, storm coming and a big political party." After the President spoke about the impending storm, Gregory added: "Again, it only underscores how difficult it is for a Republican Party to move forward with this convention, with that potential threat."
In an interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer was aghast at an off-the-cuff joke by Mitt Romney on Friday: "...he said, 'No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate,' an obvious reference to the birther debate. Is it – he says it was a joke. Is it funny to kind of pay attention to a fringe group and question the very legitimacy of the President of the United States's citizenship?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Christie replied: "Yeah, but he hasn't. I mean, he has been the clearest, the most affirmative of all the Republican candidates who are running for this nomination, in saying that he didn't think that was an issue." Lauer ignored the fact that President Obama himself has joked about his birth certificate on more than one occasion and that the Obama campaign actually raised money off the issue, selling mugs and t-shirts mocking the conspiracy theory.
Christie also appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning on Tuesday, no one asked him about the comment.
In what co-host Matt Lauer billed as a campaign ad "reality check" on Tuesday's NBC Today, a Romney ad criticizing the Obama administration for gutting Welfare reform was dismissed as ineffective, "too complicated" and "Pants on Fire" false. Meanwhile, an Obama ad slamming Romney over taxes was praised for making Romney look like a cross between wealthy Simpson's villain "Mr. Burns" and an "evil" version of Mad Men's Don Draper. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Much of the commentary came from ad critic and MediaPost.com editor-at-large Barbara Lippert. She quickly rejected the Romney ad: "I don't think it's effective because it's such a battle of images....It's too complicated. You have to turn it around in your mind." Then she enthusiastically gushed over the Obama ad and threw in her own nasty jabs at Romney:
Teeing up Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to bash Paul Ryan on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer lobbed this softball: "Do you think that Paul Ryan's addition to this ticket is the best thing that could happen to President Obama's chances for re-election?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer used an article from The Washington Post's Dan Balz to set up the question and tout Democratic bravado on Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate: "He said quote, 'There was no one on Romney's short list of contenders that they,' meaning the Obama campaign, 'wanted to run against more than the chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan.' Do you agree with that assessment?"
In an interview with former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's commitment to conservative principles: "I've heard Paul Ryan described as a true conservative....Do you honestly think he is someone who will work and reach across the aisle to Democrats or will he be an immovable object on key social issues and issues of ideology?"
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer actually used the President's own past statements about Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to grill deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: "President Obama said this of Paul Ryan, that he was 'absolutely sincere about wanting to reduce the deficit'...gave him 'credit for at least being willing to put out there some very tough choices.' Does he still feel that way?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cutter attempted to rely on the usual Democratic fearmongering, accusing Ryan of a plan "that balances the budget on the backs of the middle class." Lauer called her out for that tactic, again citing Obama's own words: "...he said this, quote, 'We're not going to be able to do anything about these entitlements if what we do characterize whatever proposal's are put out there as well, you know, that's the other party being irresponsible...the other party trying to hurt our senior citizens.' Which sounds exactly what – like what you just said."
Hoping to define vice presidential pick Paul Ryan early with liberal talking points, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander painted the Wisconsin congressman as "the architect of a politically polarizing budget plan to slash trillions in federal funding, including cuts to Medicare..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander began his report by offering this description of Ryan: "To Republicans, Ryan is viewed as a conservative, a courageous and visionary conservative. To Democrats, his views are seen as extreme." At the top of the show, co-host Matt Lauer only saw problems for Republicans and advantages for Democrats with the Ryan pick: "Will Ryan's budget plan hurt the ticket? And how is President Obama using the choice to his own advantage?"
In an unaired portion of an interview with British Prime Minister David Cameron meant to be featured on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pressed Cameron to compare the London Olympics with the winter games run by Mitt Romney: "Do you think that Mitt Romney, the challenges he faced in 2002 in Salt Lake City, compared at all to what you faced here in London?" [View video after the jump]
After pushing Cameron to criticize Romney, moments later, Lauer went after Britain's head of Parliament for daring to modestly cut back on the nation's massive government spending: "You put in place some very difficult austerity measures that were controversial, hard for a lot of people to swallow. And yet, in the last quarter, your economy shrunk. So, was austerity the right path to take at that particular time, facing this very stubborn recession?"
In an interview with actor Kevin Spacey on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer quoted the liberal star's description of his new role in a political drama, playing "a wily murderous politician worming his way to the White House." Spacey quipped in response: "Kind of like this year, isn't it?" Immediately picking up on the reference to Mitt Romney, Lauer chuckled and replied: "No, no, no. Get yourself in trouble, not me." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Managing to squeeze politics into the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday, NBC hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira cheered a tribute to Britain's government-run National Health Service, with Lauer declaring: "Back in the states...we're locked in this kind of partisan debate over the future of health care in our own country. Here, they feel so strongly about their health care system, they're actually celebrating it as part of the Olympic opening ceremony." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In a live interview with Mitt and Ann Romney on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over the "very negative" presidential race and wondered: "Are you proud of the campaign you're running so far? Is this the campaign you'd like to run?"
Romney responded: "I'm very proud of the fact that my campaign is focused on the economy. It's focused on my vision for what I do to get more jobs for America. And about the President's-" Lauer interrupted: "And what President Obama has done wrong with the economy." Lauer pressed: "Do you think your campaign has been less negative than the Obama campaign?"