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NBC Reporter's Idea of Balance: Dem Voices Outnumber GOP 4 to 1

NBC's Savannah Guthrie gave little time to the GOP view on health care, on Monday's Today, as the reporter offered only one soundbite to a Republican compared to four Democrats in favor of the health care bill. In a report headlined: "One More Last Chance, Will Democrats Pass Health Care Reform This Week?" Guthrie began the piece: "Well we've said it before, but this is it. The White House press secretary boldly predicted that by this time next week, health care will be the law of the land, but privately aides acknowledge this one is coming down to the wire. Beginning a week Democrats hope will end with the health care bill finally passed, the President's senior adviser on Meet the Press was optimistic."

Guthrie then threw it to the first of four pro-health care soundbites with White House senior advisor David Axelrod proclaiming, "I'm confident" Obamacare will pass, then aired Democratic Representative James Clyburn also asserting he was "confident." Then after a clip of Democratic Senator Richard Durbin declaring "We're gonna pass it" Guthrie finally got to a Republican voice with Senator Lindsey Graham warning passage of health care will "poison the well" to get anything else done. Guthrie gave the final word to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaiming passage will be "historic." Guthrie concluded her story by offering one more White House line of spin: "Well the President will be on the road one more time today, making his closing argument in Strongsville, Ohio. That is the home of a woman named Natoma Canfield, who wrote the President a letter about her skyrocketing premiums. The President read that to insurance executives. She is too sick to be there with the President, but her sister will introduce President Obama today, Matt."

The following is the full story as it was aired on the March 15 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Is this the week that health care overhaul passes through Congress? Aides to President Obama say they're confident but they don't appear to have the votes just yet. NBC's Savannah Guthrie is at the White House with more on this. Savannah, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "One More Last Chance, Will Democrats Pass Health Care Reform This Week?"]

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning, Matt. Well we've said it before, but this is it. The White House press secretary boldly predicted that by this time next week, health care will be the law of the land, but privately aides acknowledge this one is coming down to the wire. Beginning a week Democrats hope will end with the health care bill finally passed, the President's senior adviser on Meet the Press was optimistic.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: It's time to bring this to a close.

TOM BROKAW: And you're gonna get it passed?

AXELROD: I'm confident.

GUTHRIE: But House Democratic leaders were realistic, acknowledging, at the moment, they don't have the votes.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN: No, we don't have them as of this morning. But we've been working this thing all weekend. We'll be working it going into the week. I'm also very confident that we'll get this done.

GUTHRIE: To get it done, House leaders need 216 votes, wavering House Democrats are waiting on a final score from the Congressional Budget Office this week, worried about the bill's cost. Other Democrats are vowing to vote no, because they want tougher language outlawing federal funding of abortion. Under the Democrats' road map for the coming week, House members will have to pass the Senate's version of health care, which many don't like, then trust the Senate to pass a series of fixes through a process called reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of the Senate. On Sunday, Senate leaders sought to reassure House Democrats they won't leave them in the lurch.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: When Nancy Pelosi goes before her House Democratic caucus, it will be with the solid assurance that when reconciliation comes over to the Senate side, we're gonna pass it.

GUTHRIE: But a key Republican warns Sunday if Democrats use reconciliation, bipartisanship is over.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: If they do this, it's going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter.

GUTHRIE: Pressed by congressional leaders, the President has delayed his trip to Indonesia and Australia, to be there for the last-minute negotiating and arm twisting that may be required. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear she will need him.

REP. NANCY PELOSI: I'm delighted that the President will be here for the passage of the bill. It's going to be historic.

GUTHRIE: Well the President will be on the road one more time today, making his closing argument in Strongsville, Ohio. That is the home of a woman named Natoma Canfield, who wrote the President a letter about her skyrocketing premiums. The President read that to insurance executives. She is too sick to be there with the President, but her sister will introduce President Obama today, Matt.

LAUER: Alright, Savannah, thanks very much. Savannah Guthrie at the White House.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.