Two signs Sunday morning of how the Washington press corps are dismissive, disdainful and befuddled by the Tea Party.
On This Week, Christiane Amanpour fretted that though the New York Times has discredited the Tea Party’s rationale (“a new report today in the New York Times, they say that in fact TARP will cost maybe $28 billion to the taxpayer, instead of the $700 billion”), she told Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas “you yourself have been facing, even though you’re a reliable conservative, Tea Party competition in Texas. Are they outflanking you?” Amanpour empathized that Tea Party activists “said that you personally signify everything that the Tea Party is fighting.” A flummoxed Amanpour wondered: “What on earth do they mean by that?”
Over on CBS's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer, echoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asked Senator John McCain about a Senate vote to repeal ObamaCare: “Do you think...that that's a waste of time, that the time in the Senate could be better spent working on something that has a chance of passing?”
Instead of then pressing Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer about what Democrats have to fear about such a vote if they have the votes to defeat it, Schieffer simply cued him up with “what will be the Democratic response?” That allowed Schumer to expound on how they’ll force Republicans to reject supposedly popular elements of it.
From the January 23 Face the Nation:
BOB SCHIEFFER: This morning on Meet the Press, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he is definitely going to try to force a vote on repealing health care reform, even though as most people, and I'm sure you would agree, there is no chance that that's going to pass in the Senate. Do you think Senator McCain that that's a waste of time, that the time in the Senate could be better spent working on something that has a chance of passing?
JOHN McCAIN: One thing about the Senate, it is not the most efficient organization and I don't think we would be wasting – we need to have a vote on it because we promised the people we would...
SCHIEFFER TO SCHUMER: He [McCain] agreed, you heard him, with what Mitch McConnell said also this morning. There needs to be a vote on repealing health care. If the Republicans do force a vote -- and I would guess that about the only way they can get this done is just to add it on as an amendment to some other legislation -- that seems most likely to me. But if they do that, Senator Schumer, what will be the Democratic response?
From ABC’s This Week, segment with retiring Senators Hutchison, Kent Conrad and Joe Lieberman:
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Senator Hutchison. First of all, in a new report today in the New York Times, they say that in fact TARP will cost maybe $28 billion to the taxpayer, instead of the $700 billion. They say that bailing out the auto industry will cost maybe, in the end, about $15 billion rather than the many tens of billions that were put in. What about you? You yourself have been facing, even though you’re a reliable conservative, Tea Party competition in Texas. Are they outflanking you?
HUTCHISON: You know, I think the Tea Party has done a good thing in awakening America to the problems that we are facing and saying, we can do something about it. And I appreciate that. I think that if I had run, I would have won. It would have been a tough race, for sure. But I think I would have won because I think my record is good. And it is to be effective and get things done. But I do think there is such a strong feeling that America has not been going in the right direction. And I think people are looking for a change. That's not why I didn't run. It was a personal decision for me. I commute every week. I have two young children and the time was right for me. I'm excited about a new future and excited about turning it over to someone else, but I think that the Tea Party, all in all, has done a good thing for America.
AMANPOUR: And yet they say that, as I said you're a reliable conservative by all indicators, they said that you personally signify everything that the Tea Party is fighting. What on earth do they mean by that? Particularly when it comes to issues such as spending cuts and the things that everybody’s talking about right now.
HUTCHISON: Well, I think that's a misrepresentation of my record. I am a reliable conservative. There are some people who say that, of course. I mean I read the blogs and it gets kind of depressing, frankly, to read those blogs. But all in all, I have support of Tea Party people. I do have the support of many of the leaders of the Tea Oarty. And I don't think there is a Tea Party spokesman that speaks for everyone. But I have a good relationship with the Tea Party. And yes, there are people that think that maybe I fought too hard for Texas in spending areas. But I think I'm elected to support my state. And I have supported every spending cut, every overall spending cut. And I think we're going to have to be doing a lot more of that in the next few weeks, because we all agree -- and I didn't support the stimulus. So I think that was a -- way too much spending. But we all agree now, it must be cut.
— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.