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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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‘Today Show’ mocks scout leaders who toppled rock in Goblin Valley

As if the Utah Boy Scout leaders facing felony charges for knocking over a formation in Goblin Valley State Park don’t have enough problems, they were openly mocked on NBC’s "Today Show" on Monday morning.

Embarrassment is nothing compared to the possibility of criminal charges, but Carson Daly, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales all took shots at Glenn Taylor, who knocked over the 170 million-year-old formation, and Dave Hall, who took the video of him doing it.

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That video "stirred up quite a firestorm," said Daly as "Today" got around to reporting the story the week after that firestorm broke out.

There was nothing new in the report. It was a rehash of what was reported last week, including a clip of Taylor claiming "the rock needed to come down" but apologizing — sort of — taking matters into his own hands.

"We did something right the wrong way," he says as NBC cuts to the clip of the maniacal laughing that accompanied knocking the rock over.

Daly then moved on to the civil lawsuit Taylor filed last month. "He’s suing for disability compensation, stating he sustained serious, permanent and debilitating injuries from a car accident four years ago."

Cut to the woman he’s suing saying she was "a little bit surprised" to learn of Taylor’s actions in Goblin Valley - and more of the maniacal laughter from the video clip.

And then the "Today" team cut loose with a stream of sarcasm.

"A hundred and seventy million years the rock never posed a threat, but, thank God, he was there," Daly said.

Should Taylor and Hall be charged?

"I think the video speaks for itself," Lauer said.

Guthrie suggested they be "charged with noise pollution for that crazy laugh."

Roker sarcastically came to their defense on the laugh.

"He was excited by the fact that he was miraculously cured from his injuries," he said.

"I think his disability lawsuit goes away right away," Morales opined.

"Out the window," Lauer added.

As you might expect, there was a certain East Coast-bias to the "Today" segment. Daly told viewers, "Salt Lake City authorities are conducting a criminal investigation to determine if charges should be filed."

No, they’re not. Salt Lake City has no jurisdiction over Goblin Valley State Park, which is more than 200 miles away from Utah’s capital city.

(Had Daly said "authorities in Salt Lake City," he would have been OK. The Utah State Parks has offices there.)

And, by the way, "Today" put up an online poll asking viewers, "Should Utah scout leader be charged with a felony?"

As of 9:30 a.m. MT on Monday, it was 86 percent yes, 14 percent no.



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