ABC and CBS on Wednesday went into full panic mode on Wednesday, seeing Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey as a crisis comparable to Richard Nixon during the darkest days of Watergate. With dramatic music, Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos parroted, “Now, calls for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. Democrats compare this to Watergate.”
Co-host Robin Roberts turned to liberal journalist Cokie Roberts to push this hyperbolic narrative: “As our resident historian, put this into context for us. Because some are comparing it to Watergate.” Of course, she agreed, declaring, “Well, that's understandable that people are comparing it to Watergate because, of course, what happened there is that President Nixon fired the special prosecutor because he was getting too close.”
Well, case closed. They must be the same thing.
Over on CBS This Morning, Norah O’Donnell repeated the Democratic talking point: “Some congressional Democrats compared President Trump to Richard Nixon who ordered the firing of the Watergate scandal's independent prosecutor.”
Nancy Cordes uncritically pushed this point: “Democrats savaged the President's decision, calling it Nixonian, mind-boggling and a cover-up.”
Surprisingly, NBC on Tuesday and Wednesday avoided immediately jumping to this comparison.
Partial transcripts are below:
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Good Morning America
STEPHANOPOULOS: Fired. Breaking new details on FBI Director James Comey terminated by president Trump with this letter. Comey was leading the investigation over Trump's campaign and Russia. The President's team speaks out overnight.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: When are they going to let that go? It's been going on for nearly a year. Frankly, it's kind of getting absurd. There is nothing there.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Democrats claiming a cover-up.
CHUCK SCHUMER: Mr. President, with all due respect, you are making a big mistake.
ROBERTS: And even top Republicans question Trump's decision. The FBI director completely caught off guard, fired for how he handled Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation. Comey defending those actions just a week ago.
JAMES COMEY: Tell me what you would do. It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, calls for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. Democrats compare this to Watergate as President Trump prepares to nominate a new FBI director and meets with the Russian foreign minister this morning. Our entire team is breaking it down, a special edition of GMA.
ROBIN ROBERTS: In some ways uncharted territory and, Cokie, as our resident historian, put this into context for us. Because some are comparing it to Watergate.
COKIE ROBERTS: Well, that's understandable that people are comparing it to Watergate because, of course, what happened there is that President Nixon fired the special prosecutor because he was getting too close. And here we have the President firing the head of the FBI. And the President's people saying it's time to shut down this very important investigation as to whether the Kremlin interfered in our election. And so this is something that is going to resonate in Washington for a long time to come.
CBS This Morning
NORAH O'DONNELL: Some congressional Democrats compared President Trump to Richard Nixon who ordered the firing of the Watergate scandal's independent prosecutor. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer talked to the President on the phone. Schumer said he told the president he was making a big mistake.
NANCY CORDES: Democrats savaged the President's decision, calling it Nixonian, mind-boggling and a cover-up.
GAYLE KING: Other Democrats call the decision Nixonian, referring to President Nixon's decision to dismiss the Watergate special prosecutor in 1973. Well, Team Nixon seems to disagree with that. The Nixon Presidential Library said on Twitter last night, "President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI."