As planned, Sarah Palin made her debut today as a member of “the lamestream media” — and, boy, was that phrase ever repeated by both SP and Matt Lauer throughout the morning! She first joined Lauer in the 7 a.m. hour for a brief interview to discuss the GOP presidential race. The Sarah Palin who verbally jousted with Mr. Lauer wasn’t the same relaxed Sarah Palin who appears regularly on “Hannity.” Her antagonism toward the MSM was evident — and, at least once, articulated — in the interview.

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She displayed notable message discipline, though. Despite Lauer’s repeated attempts to express disappointment in Romney, Palin cleaved to the essential thing: Any of the GOP contenders would be better than Obama.

In the 8 a.m. hour, she joined Lauer and Ann Curry as an actual co-host of the show. She first appeared reading a newspaper, with a stack of newspapers behind her — a cheeky way to confirm that her appearance on NBC’s “Today” was intended to be a direct challenge to Katie Couric, who is guest-hosting ABC’s “Good Morning America” this week.

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For the rest of the hour, she appeared in a variety of segments, chatting it up with the other co-hosts and guests like … Tori Spelling, who asked SP pointblank whether she plans to have more children. The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy live-blogged the show and captured several of Palin’s wittiest one-liners. (My favorite came at the end, when Al Roker mentioned hibachi cooking. “Let’s put some moose and caribou on the grill!” Palin quipped.) By the end of the show, she seemed far more at ease and Lauer seemed a little less patronizing.

Still, as Speakeasy noted, it’s “fair to say that Palin has been used sparingly on ‘Today.'” When the TV ratings come out this evening, we’ll see whether Palin earned bragging rights. Given that both “Matt Lauer” and “Sarah Palin” were trending topics on Twitter this morning, I bet she did, but, either way, she did more for “Today” than “Today” did for her. She no doubt inspired her considerable following to flip to NBC this morning, while NBC did little to give Palin a true platform. She was given the opportunity to make only a few minor remarks and had to fit her opinions to a relatively substance-less show. If NBC wants to see what she could really do, they should give her her own hour.