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NBC Puns: 'Romney's Having A Hard Time Shaking' Etch-A-Sketch Gaffe

Eager to seize on an unfortunate Etch-A-Sketch analogy made by a Romney campaign advisor, on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry used all her cleverness to come up with this one-liner: "...a very mixed day for GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. He picked up a key endorsement on Wednesday, but it's a campaign gaffe from a top aid that Romney's having a hard time shaking."

In the report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander declared: "Mitt Romney's critics have hounded him as a flip-flopper....[He's] on the defensive once again..." Alexander also joined in the mocking: "Who knew that classic toy could cause a presidential candidate so much trouble....If only those words could magically disappear."

While Alexander described how Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich took advantage of the gaffe, he also made sure to tout DNC talking points on the matter: "The Democratic National Committee mocked the comment with this web video. And on Twitter, critics had a field day, a Democratic operative tweeting a Romney caricature inside that famous red screen. Others suggesting made-up Romney toys, 'Hungry, Hungry Corporations,' one wrote."

Alexander emphasized the disruption caused by the remark:

By days end, Romney tried to erase the damage during an impromptu news conference....So much for Romney riding the wave of his big Illinois win, touting the endorsement Wednesday of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Worse, it was Mitt and Ann Romney's 43rd anniversary, the couple tweeting out this wedding photo before images of Etch-A-Sketches dominated the day.

On Wednesday's Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd held up the incident and proclaimed: "Like some other flubs after big primary victories...a gaffe rained on the candidate's Illinois parade."

Not finished with his stand-up comedy disguised as journalism, Alexander ended his report by noting: "Perhaps the only clear winner in all of this, the makers of Etch-A-Sketch. And yes, they weighed in as well. While they say it's too early to tell if all the attention will lead to a spike in sales, they released a statement saying that their happy to see the iconic American toy is now, in their words, 'shaking up the national debate.'"

Curry signaled the media wouldn't let the story go: "I don't think this is going to be the end of what we're going to hear about this."

When it comes to covering gaffes, NBC is quite selective. Just on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd of Democratic fundraisers that the plan to kill Osama Bin Laden was the most "audacious" military action in the past 500 years. The network completely ignored the obvious historical blunder.

Here is a full transcript of Alexander's March 22 report:

7:14AM ET

ANN CURRY: Now to the race for the White House and a very mixed day for GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. He picked up a key endorsement on Wednesday, but it's a campaign gaffe from a top aid that Romney's having a hard time shaking. NBC's Peter Alexander is in Washington D.C. and joins us with more on this. Hey, Peter, good morning.        

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Romney Drawing Fire; "Etch-A-Sketch" Comment Causes Campaign Headache]

PETER ALEXANDER: Ann, good morning to you. This is the kind of distraction the campaigns hate. Throughout this campaign, Mitt Romney's critics have hounded him as a flip-flopper, changing his positions depending on the audience. And this morning, Romney's on the defensive once again after one of his senior advisors said that Romney will be able to reintroduce himself to voters ahead of the general election, comparing the campaign to that unforgettable red toy, the Etch-A-Sketch.

ETCH-A-SKETCH COMMERCIAL: Yeah, you're fun times start with Etch-A-Sketch.

ALEXANDER: Who knew that classic toy could cause a presidential candidate so much trouble.

PIERS MORGAN: Are you going to make Eric write out 100 times on an Etch-A-Sketch, "I'm very sorry"?

ANN ROMNEY: I think that's a great idea Piers. We'll have him do that tomorrow.

ALEXANDER: This latest stumble for Mitt Romney's campaign sparked by his veteran senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, responding to questions about whether Romney could easily change to appeal to more moderate general election voters.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM: I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch, you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.

ALEXANDER: If only those words could magically disappear. Instead, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum quickly picked up on the gaffe, Etch-A-Sketches in their hands.

NEWT GINGRICH: If we're dumb enough to nominate him, we should expect that by the acceptance speech, he'll move back to the left.

RICK SANTORUM: This isn't a joke or a game. We're talking important things in our society here.

ALEXANDER: Santorum's campaign wasn't finished, tweeting out this photo [of Santorum looking at an Etch-A-Sketch], saying it showed Santorum "studying up on Romney's policy positions." Even sending an aide to hand out Etch-A-Sketches at Romney's only event of the day.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [SANTORUM AIDE]: I've given some out to different people.

ALEXANDER: The former Massachusetts governor took heat from all sides.

MITT ROMNEY: I was a severely conservative Republican governor.

ALEXANDER: The Democratic National Committee mocked the comment with this web video. And on Twitter, critics had a field day, a Democratic operative tweeting a Romney caricature inside that famous red screen. Others suggesting made-up Romney toys, "Hungry, Hungry Corporations," one wrote. By days end, Romney tried to erase the damage during an impromptu news conference.

ROMNEY: Organizationally, a general election campaign takes on a different profile. The issues I'm running on will be exactly the same.

ALEXANDER: So much for Romney riding the wave of his big Illinois win, touting the endorsement Wednesday of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Worse, it was Mitt and Ann Romney's 43rd anniversary, the couple tweeting out this wedding photo before images of Etch-A-Sketches dominated the day. Perhaps the only clear winner in all of this, the makers of Etch-A-Sketch. And yes, they weighed in as well. While they say it's too early to tell if all the attention will lead to a spike in sales, they released a statement saying that their happy to see the iconic American toy is now, in their words, "shaking up the national debate." Ann.

CURRY: Alright. I don't think this is going to be the end of what we're going to hear about this. Peter Alexander, thank you.

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.