NBC Touts 'Rarefied Air' of Summit Where Democratic Presidents Spew Left-Wing Talking Points

Promoting the civil rights summit being held at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library on Thursday, NBC Today co-host Savannah Guthrie turned to "NBC special anchor" and full-time liberal activist Maria Shriver for a report on the event: "This is pretty rarefied air you're in. We've got these former presidents all speaking at the summit. What are the themes you've been hearing so far?" [Listen to the audio]

Shriver proceeded to fawn over the speeches given by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton: "President Carter...spoke about the growing disparity between rich and poor....gender pay gap....President Clinton...talked about the lack of civil discourse going on in Washington. He longs for a time when he was president when people actually worked together....He also criticized Republicans for their lack of support of the voting – Voting Reform Act."

A soundbite ran of Clinton declaring: "I am concerned that on this 50th anniversary these divisions and the lack of a spirit of coming together put us back in the dust bin of old history."

Shriver eagerly touted President Obama's upcoming address at the summit: "[He] is coming here this morning, and he is expected to talk about Lyndon Johnson as his inspiration....He's also going to talk about what he sees as civil rights issues of today: Marriage equality, the pay gap, women's rights. So, you know, it's a really exciting day."

As an afterthought, Shriver tacked on a single sentence about George W. Bush attending: "And also President Bush is going to speak here tonight about education as the civil rights issue in his opinion."

Shriver then previewed her own planned remarks at the conference:

We're going to talk about how to make an impact, certainly with social justice issues today in a very crowded climate....when President Johnson spoke about civil rights it was really in terms of black versus white. Now you have people talking about marriage equality, immigration, rich, poor, women's rights. So the civil rights issue is no longer black and white, it's more like fifty shades of grey.

Here is a full transcript of the April 10 segment:

8:34 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, it's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the groundbreaking Civil Rights Act of 1964, granting new protections to Americans of all races, genders, and religions. And to celebrate this landmark legislation, four presidents are joining civil rights leaders at a summit at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas. NBC special anchor Maria Shriver is also one of the participants. Maria, good morning to you.

MARIA SHRIVER: Good morning, Savannah.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Politics and Pagentry; Maria Shriver on 50 Years of Civil Rights]  

GUTHRIE: This is pretty rarefied air you're in. We've got these former presidents all speaking at the summit. What are the themes you've been hearing so far?

SHRIVER: Well, President Carter spoke the other night and he spoke about the growing disparity between rich and poor. He also spoke as women as a civil rights issue for today. Pay gap – gender pay gap, he spoke about. And he spoke about increased violence against women, not just here in the United States, but around the world.

President Clinton spoke last night and he talked about the lack of civil discourse going on in Washington. He longs for a time when he was president when people actually worked together and he talked about that time. Also when President Johnson was able to bring both parties together to pass this landmark legislation that they're celebrating here. He also criticized Republicans for their lack of support of the voting – Voting Reform Act. Let's take a look.

BILL CLINTON: I am concerned that on this 50th anniversary these divisions and the lack of a spirit of coming together put us back in the dust bin of old history.

SHRIVER: President Obama is coming here this morning, and he is expected to talk about Lyndon Johnson as his inspiration. He's obviously the first African-American president and a beneficiary of that legislation. He's also going to talk about what he sees as civil rights issues of today: Marriage equality, the pay gap, women's rights. So, you know, it's a really exciting day.

And also President Bush is going to speak here tonight about education as the civil rights issue in his opinion.

GUTHRIE: He says it's the ultimate civil rights issue.

Of course, Maria, you and your family have a long history in this area. Of course Sargent Shriver, your father, started the – took on the war on poverty for LBJ. And I know you're going to speak as well.

SHRIVER: Well, I am. I was invited to speak here today. And we're going to talk about how to make an impact, certainly with social justice issues today in a very crowded climate. I think what's interesting, Savannah, is when President Johnson spoke about civil rights it was really in terms of black versus white. Now you have people talking about marriage equality, immigration, rich, poor, women's rights. So the civil rights issue is no longer black and white, it's more like fifty shades of grey.

GUTHRIE: Maria, it's always good to talk to you, good luck with your speech today. And I know you'll keep us posted on what happens at the summit, thank you.

SHRIVER: Thank you.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.