Jane Pauley Back on NBC, Yearned for 'Cool, Steady Hand' of 'Exceptional' Obama

In 2008, just four years after leaving NBC News, Jane Pauley gave the maximum allowed donation to Barack Obama ($2,300) and campaigned for him in her native Indiana where she proclaimed "I want to see the cool, steady hand of Barack Obama on that Bible on Inauguration Day" and predicted Obama will be "an exceptional" President, enthusing: "I so look forward to it!"

On Tuesday morning (March 9) Pauley reappeared on the Today show, which she co-hosted from 1976 to 1989 before spending more than a decade with Dateline NBC, as the narrator of a new monthly segment produced by the liberal AARP, "Your Life Calling Today," about those 50-plus reinventing themselves. "We are welcoming back a very, underline 'very' good friend and familiar face around here, Jane Pauley," Matt Lauer announced, explaining "she's been working with AARP which has produced and sponsored a new series of reports for us." Her first report looked at a woman who "left a lucrative career so she would have more time to knit socks."

Not exactly hard-hitting political reporting, but it gives me a hook to share some 2008 video of Pauley praising Obama as she made appearances on his behalf. "Pauley called the last eight years a mistake and says America must make the right choice come election day," WISH-TV channel 8 reporter Phil Sanchez related on the Indianapolis CBS affiliate's Sunday, September 21, 2008 newscast. Just over a month later, following an event in Bloomington, sporting an Obama button she told Indiana University's public TV station, WTIU:

I think the 21st century really hasn't started yet for this country. We have not gotten off to a good start and the rest of the world hasn't been waiting. So we, we can not only get it right this time but I kind of agree with Colin Powell that not only Barack Obama will be a good President he'll be an exceptional one and I so look forward to it!

Pauley, who worked for the Indiana State Democratic Committee in the mid-1970s before jumping to NBC News, appreciated the freedom to express her political views, as if they never came through during her NBC years:

Well this is, this is new for me because I was in television news for 30 years and, and you know I would not have been approved of going public with my particular political position. That was between me and the voting booth. But I haven't been with NBC for three-and-a-half years and I am free to make a contribution and I hope I can make a contribution here in Indiana.

The MRC reviewed Pauley's later years at NBC with a Media Reality Check in 2003, "Jane Pauley's 'Unusual Empathy' for Liberals," which recalled how she once cued up Hillary Clinton: "What don't you do perfectly?"

The MRC's Geoff Dickens tracked down the WTIU-TV channel 30 video on YouTube and Pauley's 2008 campaign donation to Obama as listed by OpenSecrets.org (as Jane Trudeau) and by Doug Elfman in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who provided a lengthy list of celebrity financial supporters: "The Biggest Stars Donate Gobs of Money to Obama."

My Obama-Media "Revolving Door" list.

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.