ABC, CBS: Will Progressives Rally Around ‘Moderate’ DNC Chair?

The journalists on ABC, CBS and NBC on Sunday couldn’t quite agree how to spin new Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. Is he “moderate,” “establishment” or actually really progressive? Despite having what the liberal Mother Jones magazine called “stalwart progressive” credentials, Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley described, “Former Labor secretary Tom Perez is the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee... His election is seen as a win for the moderate wing of the party.” 

Later on CBS's Face the Nation, Atlantic journalist Molly Ball called Perez the “establishment candidate” who angered the “progressive movement.” Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, reporter Gloria Riviera worried, “A key question, of course, will be how many progressives who supported Bernie Sanders and also supported the man who came in second, Keith Ellison, will now get behind the new DNC chair?” 

While the journalist failed to identify Perez as a liberal, she labeled Congressman Keith Ellison, the man who came in second: "New Deputy Chair Ellison is the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress and has widespread progressive support." 

Efforts to paint Perez as anything other than very progressive were too much for NBC’s Chuck Todd. On the Sunday Today show, he asserted that the former Labor Secretary shows just how liberal the Democratic Party is becoming: 

If Tom Perez is considered establishment today, I think that tells you how the party has moved substantially to the left. It wasn't that long ago, when Tom Perez was nominated to be Labor secretary... it was going to be a tough push to get him confirmed because there was this feeling that, “Oh, is he too progressive? Is he too outside the so-called establishment Democratic mainstream to get confirmed in the U.S. Senate?” So, the point is that the establishment knew it was afraid of Bernie Sanders and the Warren wing totally getting control of the party through Keith Ellison. So, by recruiting Tom Perez, it was a progressive they could live with. So, I think what it tells you is how far the Democrats have moved left.

In June of 2016, National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote about the “radical leftist Perez": 

Long before Obama stepped into the Oval Office, Perez stood out as a Democratic lawmaker willing to ignore or contravene laws that impeded his agenda. As a member and then chairman of the Montgomery County Council, Perez promoted driver’s licenses and in-state tuition eligibility for Maryland illegal immigrants.  In 2006, Perez ran for state attorney general and pushed for one of his favorite ideas at the county level, a program to have state residents import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada. But the federal Food and Drug Administration said the program would be illegal, and county attorneys concurred in a formal review, adding, “one need not be a lawyer nor clairvoyant to see the potential for civil liability.” Perez responded that, “Sometimes you have to push the envelope in pursuit of the right thing.”

Partial transcripts of how Perez was covered on Sunday can be found below: 

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CBS News Sunday Morning
2/26/17
9:04:40 to 9:04:54

JANE PAULEY: Former Labor secretary Tom Perez is the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the first Latino to hold the job. His election is seen as a win for the moderate wing of the party.

Face the Nation
2/26/17
11:25
MOLLIE BALL (The Atlantic): When Tom Perez the establishment candidate won the DNC race and made Keith Ellison a vice chair and brought him on stage said let's all have party unity and the progressive movement was not having it. 

Today
2/26/17
8:08:40am 

WILLIE GEIST: What does the selection — or the election of Tom Perez tell you about where the Democratic Party is and the lessons it learned from that election four months ago? 

CHUCK TODD: Well, I'll tell you this: If Tom Perez is considered establishment today, I think that tells you how the party has moved substantially to the left. It wasn't that long ago, when Tom Perez was nominated to be Labor secretary. There was this —  it was going to be a tough push to get him confirmed because there was this feeling that, “Oh, is he too progressive? Is he too outside the so-called establishment Democratic mainstream to get confirmed in the U.S. Senate?” So the point is that the establishment knew it was afraid of Bernie Sanders and the Warren wing totally getting control of the party through Keith Ellison. So by recruiting Tom Perez, it was sort of a progressive they could live with. So, I think what it tells you is how far the Democrats have moved left.

Good Morning America
2/26/17
8:07

PAULA FARIS: A fiercely divided Democratic Party that is still reeling from losing the White House has chosen a new national leader who wants to ensure that Trump is a one-term president. Tom Perez, the former Labor Secretary under President Obama, won a tightly contested race, becoming the DNC chairman. And Gloria Riviera is in Atlanta where it all went down. Good morning, Gloria. 

GLORIA RIVIERA: Paula. So many Democrats here in Atlanta telling me they feel like finally their party is turning a new page after that devastating loss in November. Now President Trump chimed in rather quickly, with some rather insincere congratulations. He tweeted that he was happy for the new DNC chair Tom Perez, but also his own Republican Party. The DNC chair came right back at him on Twitter, vowing that Democrats across the country will soon be the President's worst nightmare. Overnight, the embattled Democratic Party finding new leadership. After a contentious race for national chair, Tom Perez, former Labor Secretary under Obama, edging out rival Keith Ellison. Perez vowing to spearhead the party’s recovery and more. 

TOM PEREZ: We need a chair who cannot only take the fight to Donald Trump. We also need a chair who can lead turnaround and change the culture of the Democratic Party. 

RIVIERA: In a show of unity, Perez nominated the man who came in second to be his official number two. New Deputy Chair Ellison is the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress and has widespread progressive support. 

KEITH ELLISON: We got to win elections. We are in this mess because we lost not one election, but a thousand elections. 

RIVIERA: The two men now charged with restructuring the party still reeling from Hillary Clinton's devastating loss. Congressman Waters, your party is recovering from the worst political defeat in modern American politics. What has to happen now? 

MAXINE WATERS: Well, first of all, we have to be unified. I think we saw indications of that after the vote was announced here today. 

RIVIERA: A key question, of course, will be how many progressives, who supported Bernie Sanders and also supported the man who came in second, Keith Ellison, will now get behind the new DNC chair? The President had more to say this morning over Twitter. He wrote, “The race for DNC chairman was, of course, totally rigged. Bernie's guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez.” That's what the President had to say about all of in this morning. Paula? Dan? 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.