NBC's 'Today' Finds It 'Surprising' Obama Not On List of Greatest Leaders

On Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie touted an exclusive preview of Fortune magazine's list of the world's 50 greatest leaders and wondered about one name that was absent from the ranking: "Bill Clinton comes in at number five and makes the cover. There are a lot of other notable names here. Tell you what, though, there may be some talk about one leader who did not make the list, the leader of the free world, President Obama. Fortune tells us he was not overlooked, he just did not make the cut." [Listen to the audio]

Co-host Matt Lauer reacted: "Yeah, that's surprising." He then noted leaders who "did make the cut": "Pope Francis takes the top spot. Congratulations to him....Some other folks you may recognize, Bono, Derek Jeter – yes! – Angelina Jolie, and Malala Yousafzai."

Wrapping up the segment, Lauer reassured viewers: "But the President is not sulking at home. On Wednesday, what did he do? He went out and taped an appearance on Ellen." Host Ellen DeGeneres proceeded to suck up to Obama by claiming people were "very grateful" for ObamaCare.

In a statement to NBC News, Fortune explained:

President Obama wasn't excluded from Fortune's World's 50 Greatest Leaders list. He simply didn't make this year's list of 50 outstanding individuals who have demonstrated rare leadership, leadership in multiple areas or who have demonstrated a long history of leading.

Besides Bill Clinton getting the number five spot, the only other American political leaders on the list were former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. No Republicans made the list.

In an interview with Fortune, Clinton was asked: "Who are the great leaders in your mind?" Obama didn't make his list either.

Here is a full transcript of the March 20 Today segment:

8:14 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We are back now at 8:14 with What's Trending Today. And this morning, Fortune magazine is releasing its first list of the world's 50 greatest leaders.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Fortune's Finest; 50 Greatest World Leaders]

The issue's out tomorrow, we're going to get an exclusive look right now at who makes the list. Bill Clinton comes in at number five and makes the cover. There are a lot of other notable names here.

Tell you what, though, there may be some talk about one leader who did not make the list, the leader of the free world, President Obama. Fortune tells us he was not overlooked, he just did not make the cut.

NATALIE MORALES: In the top 50.

MATT LAUER: Yeah, that's surprising. Okay, so who did make the cut? Pope Francis takes the top spot. Congratulations to him.

CARSON DALY: What a year, what a year he's had.

LAUER: That's right. Some other folks you may recognize, Bono, Derek Jeter – yes! – Angelina Jolie, and Malala Yousafzai.

But the President is not sulking at home. On Wednesday, what did he do? He went out and taped an appearance on Ellen. And then he had a little joke about her famous Oscar selfie. Remember, she beat his record for the most retweeted tweet. Take a look.

[ELLEN OSCAR SELFIE STUCK ON SCREEN AS CLIP ROLLS]

BARACK OBAMA: Pretty cheap stunt myself.

LAUER: Well, he was actually a lot better when you saw him. But he said, "Pretty cheap stunt, grabbing a bunch of celebrities and feeding them pizza just to beat my record."

GUTHRIE: Yeah. Did a little dancing with her. Episode airs later today. By the way, if you're interested in Fortune's list, you can find it at today.com.

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