PBS Anchor Woodruff Blames Republicans for Congressional Gridlock

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, anchor Judy Woodruff brought on former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to discuss the problem of gridlock in Washington. The conversation started off well, but Woodruff soon made it clear who she believes is more responsible for a lack of legislative progress in the nation’s capital.

Snowe presented the problem as being caused by members of both parties. She cited the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street as examples of ideologically rigid groups on the right and left respectively. But Woodruff couldn’t let this even-handed approach fly on her program. She jumped in with a slanted question:

"You know, with all due respect, Senator, I hear many analysts say, yes, the problem’s on both sides, but more the problem is with your party, with the Republicans. In fact, a respected political scientist, Norman Ornstein, Tom Mann wrote a book last year. The thrust of it was that it’s the Republicans who have been the most ideologically extreme, the least willing to compromise, the most dismissive of the other party. How do you see that?"  

Woodruff cited “many analysts” who blame the Republicans for gridlock, but one has to wonder how many of those analysts are liberals. Thomas Mann, to whom Woodruff alluded, is a senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution. Norman Ornstein, although a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, does not fit the conservative mold of that organization. Incidentally, Woodruff interviewed Ornstein and Mann on the NewsHour last year, when their book came out. The two men used the opportunity to blame Republican “extremism” for everything that’s wrong with Washington.

Of course, Democrats have controlled the Senate for years now, and yet they went four years without passing a budget. If anything cries "dysfunction," that would be it, and yet Senate Democrats and their leadership are absolved of being part of the problem of gridlock in Washington.

At the end of the interview, Woodruff again tried to paint Republicans as extremists by asking Snowe another loaded question:

"Finally, let me ask you another question about your own party, the Republicans. The leadership of the party recently conducted what they called an autopsy to look at what went wrong in the election and they said a lot of it was just communicating with the voters, but others are looking at it and saying it’s some of the beliefs in the Republican Party that are out of the mainstream. Right now on gun control, which is an issue before the country, your party is the party that’s basically saying we don’t need any more restrictions on guns. How do you see your party?"

Again, it appears that Woodruff is simply giving voice to every sneering left-wing critic of the Republican Party. After all, the position she cites is the familiar liberal refrain: Republicans need to move leftward because their beliefs simply aren’t “mainstream” anymore.

If PBS is going to draw funding from American taxpayers, it should treat all points of view with fairness and respect. It is an outrage to see a publicly-funded network do little more than parrot left-wing talking points.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.