NBC Celebrates Muhammad Ali’s Left-Wing Activism, Skips Endorsement of Reagan

On Monday, rather than simply remember Muhammad Ali’s boxing career and humanitarian work around the world, NBC’s Today chose to politicize the athlete’s death and praise the liberal activism of his youth. Co-host Savannah Guthrie wanted to avoid a “gauzy portrait” of Ali and instead focus on “How radical, how controversial, and how expensive it was to him personally to do what he did in the ’60s, standing up to the war [in Vietnam].”

HBO Real Sports host – and former Today co-host – Bryant Gumbel acknowledged: “It was not only expensive to him personally in financial terms, but it was expensive to him in terms of his image. Because it’s easy in hindsight to say, ‘Oh, everybody embraced him and everybody loved him.’ But he did a variety of things that turned off a great portion of America….So not every step he took was a magnificent one that everybody applauded.”