NBC Hypes Hillary ‘Firing Back’ at Jeb Bush Over ‘Women’s Health’ Comments; ‘She’s Got an Issue’ Now

NBC Nightly News seized Tuesday on Jeb Bush’s comments concerning women’s health that “may have ignited a new flashpoint in the race for president” and instead of focusing on the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal, the network gushed over Hillary Clinton “firing back” and “blasting” Bush for his word choice after the Democratic candidate had “been so much on the defensive.”

In the show’s opening tease, anchor Lester Holt declared that there was “[d]eveloping news as we come on the air” as “a fight erupts late today” with “[w]hat Jeb Bush said about women's health that has Hillary Clinton firing back.”

Leading into the newscast’s opening segment from national correspondent Peter Alexander, Holt ignored Bush’s subsequent statement to instead gleefully hype that: “Jeb Bush may have ignited a new flashpoint in the race for president with comments he made tonight about funding women's health programs. Remarks immediately pounced on by Hillary Clinton.”

With the stage set, Alexander waltzed in by tying Clinton and Bush together with the fact that the first Republican presidential debate is two days away: “On the day that Republicans learned the final cut for Thursday's prime time debate, Hillary Clinton is blasting Jeb Bush for his call today to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Only after he highlighted the decision of who will be included in the 9 p.m. Fox News Channel (FNC) debate did Alexander cite Bush’s statement clarifying his original comments:

Late tonight, Jeb Bush released a statement saying he “misspoke” today and that he supports providing critical women's health services, especially to low-income women, but adding that he believes federal money shouldn't be spent on Planned Parenthood because of allegations the organization is involved in selling fetal organs.

Following Alexander’s report, Clinton correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell joined Holt for analysis and was asked by the NBC Nightly News anchor if Bush’s comments will be “a one day issue.”

Responding that “it depends on how he handles it,” Mitchell got weak in the knees in fawning over how the former First Lady “pounced” after having “been so much on the defensive.” Further lamenting her tumbling poll numbers and that “[a]ll the Republicans” were “ganging up on her,” Mitchell used the platform to make this broad judgement about what matters to women voters:

[N]ow, she's got an issue and an issue with the largest voting block, women and it depends on whether Jeb Bush really articulates that he understands the importance of federal funding for women's health. It's a huge issue with women voters, Republicans as well as Democrats.

While ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News did not cover Bush’s comments, both newscasts still had full reports on the 2016 election and the announcement regarding the selection of the ten candidates for Thursday’s prime time debate. 

CBS focused on the findings of its latest poll with Clinton leading the Democratic field and Donald Trump maintaining first place on the Republican side. Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes properly noted how “only 40 percent” of all voters view Clinton “as honest and trustworthy, down seven points since our last poll in May,” but not before Cordes touted her standing among Democratic voters: 

[N]ot only is Hillary Clinton way out in front, she's also clearly got a lot of good will within her party. 82 percent of Democratic voters told us they view her favorably and that’s far better than any Republican candidate does among GOP voters right now. 74 percent of Democratic voters say they see Clinton as honest and trustworthy[.]

On ABC, anchor David Muir and chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl only covered who FNC selected for the 9 p.m. and 5 p.m. debates and reports that some candidates are preparing to face Trump by watching portions of NBC’s The Apprentice.

The relevant portions of the transcript from August 4's NBC Nightly News can be found below.

NBC Nightly News
August 4, 2015
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Fight Errupts]

LESTER HOLT: Developing news as we come on the air, a fight erupts late today. What Jeb Bush said about women's health that has Hillary Clinton firing back. Also, the stage is set. We now know who is in the first debate and who's out. 

(....)

7:01 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Battle Lines]

HOLT: [A]nd just in time for that debate, Jeb Bush may have ignited a new flashpoint in the race for president with comments he made tonight about funding women's health programs. Remarks immediately pounced on by Hillary Clinton. NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander starts us off. 

PETER ALEXANDER: On the day that Republicans learned the final cut for Thursday's prime time debate, Hillary Clinton is blasting Jeb Bush for his call today to defund Planned Parenthood. 

JEB BUSH: I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues. 

ALEXANDER: Clinton tweeted: “@Jeb Bush: You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong.” Attacking Clinton will be one feature of Thursday night's debate with frontrunner Donald Trump flanked by Bush and Scott Walker. At number 11, Rick Perry will be along those left out. Already, Fox News's formula relying on national polls is angering the party's 2012 runner-up, Rick Santorum, now relegated to Thursday's afternoon debate with far fewer viewers. 

RICK SANTORUM: Now to go seven months out and arbitrarily cut off that number is an insult to the voters. They – Fox should apologize to the candidates. 

ALEXANDER: Last night, 14 would-be Republican presidents shared the spotlight in New Hampshire, a forum that played out like political speed dating with the sharpest one-liners aimed at the Clintons. 

(....)

ALEXANDER Late tonight, Jeb Bush released a statement saying he “misspoke” today and that he supports providing critical women's health services, especially to low-income women, but adding that he believes federal money shouldn't be spent on Planned Parenthood because of allegations the organization is involved in selling fetal organs. Lester? 

HOLT: Peter Alexander, thanks. Andrea Mitchell joins us now. Andrea, is this a one-day issue for Jeb Bush? 

MITCHELL: It depends on how he handles it. Obviously, Hillary Clinton pounced. She's been so much on the defensive. All the Republicans ganging up on her. Her own poll numbers sliding, even among women and now, she's got an issue and an issue with the largest voting block, women and it depends on whether Jeb Bush really articulates that he understands the importance of federal funding for women's health. It's a huge issue with women voters, Republicans as well as Democrats.

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