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Palin goes rogue on 'Today' show

By Dana Bash, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent
updated 10:27 PM EDT, Tue April 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sarah Palin is facing off against Katie Couric in competing guest hosting stints
  • Palin on Romney: "There can still be a bit of a shake-up" but points out numbers lead
  • Palin also took a familiar jab at the "lamestream media"
  • Palin told NBC's Matt Lauer that Tuesday's appearance on "Today" was "controlled chaos"

Washington (CNN) -- Sarah Palin came right out of the gate with a stab at self-deprecating humor.

As Matt Lauer announced that "it is a pleasure to welcome Sarah Palin to the program this morning," the camera cut to Palin sitting on the "Today" show set in a sea of newspapers.

Not only did that allow the former Alaska governor to poke fun at herself, it was also a thinly veiled nod to the morning's high stakes competition with "Good Morning America" guest host Katie Couric, who famously couldn't get an answer from Palin about what newspapers she read.

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Expanding on the laugh-at-herself theme, the camera later zoomed in on Palin, sitting in Lauer's dressing room, writing notes on her hand with a sharpie.

Again, it was making light of another classic Palin moment, when she was busted with talking points for a speech written on her hand.

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"Thanks for letting me crash your dressing room," Palin said to Lauer.

He thought it was funny, sort of. "Technically, I didn't give you permission to be in there," he said dryly.

Palin's first assignment in this much-hyped stint as guest "Today" show host was really as a guest.

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She talked about Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney as if they'd poured sour milk in her coffee.

"Anything is still possible. There can still be a bit of a shake-up. But the numbers are what the numbers are," she said.

When Lauer pressed her, saying it "doesn't sound like you're happy with Mitt Romney as the party's nominee," Palin quickly responded with the bumper sticker line, "anybody but Obama."

She had a warning for the next GOP vice presidential pick.

"It doesn't matter if that person has the national level experience or not, they're going to get clobbered by the lamestream media, who does not like the conservative message."

Yes, without a hint of irony, she took part in the longest running network morning show and whacked the mainstream media.

Lauer couldn't help himself. "You are going to stick around for the 8a hour, which technically makes you part of the lamestream media," he deadpanned.

Sarah Palin's key moments

How much more mainstream media can you get than standing on the plaza outside NBC's "30 Rock" tossing to the weather?

"It's Al's turn, so let's get a check of the weather with Al," Palin said, throwing to Al Roker.

As guest host, Palin took part in three segments.

In "Today's Professionals," they cleverly brought up the buzz about Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs in an upcoming movie as a way to pivot to Palin and the HBO movie "Game Change."

Palin repeated previous comments that she didn't watch the movie saying, "I'm not going to waste my time there."

Nevertheless, she did give Julianne Moore a thumbs down for her portrayal. She volunteered that she liked another actress known for her uncanny Palin impersonation.

"I do have to admit that Tina Fey has been pretty clever," said Palin.

She also defended Jessica Simpson's pregnancy weight gain.

"How would you have felt had someone criticized you for gaining too much weight," Lauer asked Palin. "I would have wanted to punch them in the neck," she responded.

Palin went on to say that this is only an issue "because that Hollywood image is full of itty-bitty people,"

In the her next segment, she gushed over one of those itty-bitty Hollywood people, Tori Spelling, who is now pregnant with her fourth child.

"Keep going, keep going, the more the merrier," Palin told Spelling, as the daughter of Hollywood royalty-turned reality TV star promoted her book on how to host an economical party.

"How do you do it with five?" Spelling asked Palin, gushing back, "I don't know if I can handle four,"

The only segment Palin technically co-hosted was on mothering teenage daughters.

At the end, Ann Curry got a real taste of what it's like when Palin goes rogue.

Palin kept talking as a visibly anxious Curry tried to go to commercial break. The normally unflappable Curry even made a caught-on-television face at either the floor director or the control room, as Palin continued to talk to the guests about children wanting boundaries from parents.

Back on the plaza, as she was saying goodbye to the "Today" show gang, Lauer asked how she enjoyed being "part of the mainstream media."

She called it "controlled chaos" and quoted race car driver Mario Andretti as saying, if things are in control, "you're going too slow."

In the end, Palin seemed to have fun with her one-day appearance, but the real arbiter of that will be how she rated in this head-to-head competition with Couric on "Good Morning America."

After all, it was Palin herself who set it up that way, declaring "game on."

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