NBC's Maria Shriver Offers Fawning Profile of 'Overnight Sensation' Wendy Davis

In a glowing profile of Texas state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis that amounted to a campaign commercial on Wednesday's NBC Today, correspondent Maria Shriver proclaimed: "Wendy Davis became a familiar name last year when she stood in her pink tennis shoes for eleven hours to defeat a Texas abortion bill. Even though the bill eventually passed, Davis became a star. And her story, her personal story, resonated across this country." [Listen to the audio]

Following footage of cheering Davis supports, Shriver lobbed this ridiculous softball to the Texas abortion heroine: "Everybody says Wendy Davis is an overnight sensation. Does it irritate you that people call you an overnight sensation?" Davis replied: "I'm not an overnight sensation. I'm a Texan. And I'm a Texas success story. I am the epitome of hard work and optimism."

While teasing Shriver's upcoming interview with Davis as part of Today's series on women "doing it all," co-host Savannah Guthrie described Davis as "a mom who rose from nothing to become a rising political star. "

Beyond vaguely describing how Davis tried to "defeat a Texas abortion bill," Shriver failed to ask a single question about the would-be governor's staunch support for abortion in such a pro-life state.  

Shriver touted Davis's life story: "Her story was forged a long way from the Austin state capital. Davis grew up poor and at the age of 18 found herself pregnant and married. By 19, she was getting divorced and living in a mobile home park....Her early struggles, she says, have informed everything in both her political and her personal life."

Looking at Davis's chances in the Texas governor's race, Shriver asked Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith: "Is Wendy Davis more of a national star than a Texas star?" Smith explained: "She's attracting a lot of attention nationally and internationally. But at the end of the day, the people who matter are the people in her state. This is a conservative state. And so that celebrity outside is great, it helps. But it doesn't necessarily translate into votes."

Having not once referred to Davis as liberal, Shriver made sure to label her Republican opponent: "Her likely opponent is Texas state attorney general Greg Abbott. He's a man with a conservative record to match the blanket of red that covers most of Texas."

According to a poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Public Policy Polling in November, Davis trailed Abbot by fifteen points. Shriver avoided any such polling data in her report.  

In a report for Tuesday's Nightly News, Shriver bemoaned women suffering from a "wage gap" with men and touted meeting with President Obama on the issue.

Here are excerpts of Shriver's January 15 segment on Today:

8:16AM ET

(...)

MARIA SHRIVER: Wendy Davis became a familiar name last year when she stood in her pink tennis shoes for eleven hours to defeat a Texas abortion bill. Even though the bill eventually passed, Davis became a star. And her story, her personal story, resonated across this country.

[FOOTAGE OF CROWD CHEERING AND CHANTING: "WENDY! WENDY! WENDY!"]

SHRIVER [TO DAVIS]: Everybody says Wendy Davis is an overnight sensation. Does it irritate you that people call you an overnight sensation?

WENDY DAVIS: I'm not an overnight sensation. I'm a Texan. And I'm a Texas success story. I am the epitome of hard work and optimism.

SHRIVER: Wendy Davis was catapulted into the spotlight last June when her filibuster caught the nation's attention.

[CROWD CHEERING]

DAVIS: The capitol literally felt like it was alive that day.

SHRIVER: Her story was forged a long way from the Austin state capital. Davis grew up poor and at the age of 18 found herself pregnant and married. By 19, she was getting divorced and living in a mobile home park.

SHRIVER [TO DAVIS]: You haven't been back here since you lived here?

DAVIS: That's right.

SHRIVER: When you look at this place, what are you feeling right now?

DAVIS: A homecoming of sorts. I've tried really hard not to put this in the rearview mirror. I've tried to keep it present.

SHRIVER: Her early struggles, she says, have informed everything in both her political and her personal life.

(...)

SHRIVER: And last year, she threw her hat into the ring for governor. Evan Smith is the editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune.

SHRIVER [TO SMITH] Is Wendy Davis more of a national star than a Texas star?

EVAN SMITH: She's attracting a lot of attention nationally and internationally. But at the end of the day, the people who matter are the people in her state. This is a conservative state. And so that celebrity outside is great, it helps. But it doesn't necessarily translate into votes.

SHRIVER: Her likely opponent is Texas state attorney general Greg Abbott. He's a man with a conservative record to match the blanket of red that covers most of Texas.

SHRIVER [TO DAVIS]: What difference do you think it will make if you're the governor in here?

DAVIS: I think that people hopefully will feel more welcome here. They'll feel like that's not an unusual occurrence for their voices to matter.

(...)

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