Wednesday, June 01, 2011

"This is 'Today'"... with B16

Next time somebody tries to pull the "anti-Catholic media" card on anyone here, just remember two things, folks: 1. the clip you're about to see... and 2. that, in all likelihood, whatever the beef's about has a daily viewership of far less than five million.

In that light, live from Rome, with "Bubbles," cameras and a crystal cat in tow, Today's Matt Lauer and Al Roker nab what's become the city's toughest ticket -- spots in the Pope's baciamano line following this morning's General Audience:

With the full-on "Oggi" treatment set to run tomorrow, some notable behind the scenes footage and, er, interesting cameo appearances can be expected over the show's first three hours.

As the morning brings what's still Ascension Day in the four Northeastern provinces of these shores, however, it's worth reminding that watching the Romefest does not fulfill one's requisite Mass-duty.

As history goes, this isn't Today's first Vatican pilgrimage -- in 1985, the show aired for a full week from the Apostolic Palace, a run which included a Bryant Gumbel interview with now-Blessed John Paul II and the late pontiff's asking one of his favorite questions for American visitors to a stunned Willard Scott.

For Benedict, however, the NBC invite is just the latest instance of the Vatican's recent push to "pitch" the Pope to a few major global outlets, with each event resulting in a bonanza of attention and positive coverage worldwide.

Among other turns, earlier editions of the new outreach came last Christmas Eve, as B16 made a high-profile delivery of BBC's "Thought for the Day", and on Good Friday as the pontiff appeared on Italian television to answer questions submitted from viewers.