While all three major broadcast networks covered the failed vote in the U.S. Senate to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline on Tuesday night, ABC and NBC neglected to mention that political motivations were behind the vote to aid the reelection efforts of vulnerable Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that will take place on December 6.
After previously being held up in the Senate for years, the vote was finally allowed early Tuesday night and fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed for passage as only 14 Democratic Senators joined with all 45 Republicans to approve the measure. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
The measure, which was sponsored in the Senate by Landrieu, passed the House last week where the bill was named after her runoff election opponent in Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy.
On ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir, anchor David Muir hailed it as “a high stakes vote” for a pipeline that “[m]any argued it could have created thousands of jobs” but failed in the Senate. ABC news chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl mentioned the arguments for and against the pipeline plus the high likelihood that the incoming Republican Senate will approve it in January.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams read a 22-second news brief on the vote during the show’s second half and alluded to the vote failing to reach 60 votes, the intended location of the pipeline, and how “the White House has strongly hinted the President would veto it.”
Meanwhile, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley did heavily discuss the political motivations behind Tuesday’s vote with a full story from CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes. Program anchor Scott Pelley pointed out that, along with the failed vote, “the Democrats may have also killed the reelection chances of one of their own.”
Cordes reported that the effort was “dubbed ‘a hail Mary’” and something that “most of her fellow Democrats oppose, but which is popular in her oil-rich state.” Even though the bill was defeated, Cordes iterated that “Democrats, who lost eight Senate seats in this month's elections, are hoping to avoid a ninth defeat.”
Despite the desires of Democrats to stave off a 54-seat Republican majority in the Senate, Cordes said that the “[a]ffection for Landrieu was not enough to sway most Democrats.”
Not surprisingly, this was not the first time that the mainstream media ignored the political motivations behind this debate on Capitol Hill over the last week. When it was announced that the Senate would hold a vote, all three network morning newscasts made no mention of Landrieu’s tough reelection campaign in relation to the vote.
The transcript of the segment that aired on ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on November 18 can be found below.
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
November 18, 2014
6:40 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Pipeline Showdown]
DAVID MUIR: And now to breaking news from Washington, a high stakes vote late today in the Senate involving the controversial Keystone Pipeline. Many argued it could have created thousands of American jobs. It did not pass the Senate. You can see it there, the pipeline would send tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska where it would hook up with existing pipe lines, sending the oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The House passed the bill late last week. Tonight, the Senate voting it down and so, I want to bring in ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and, Jon, this is not over yet. Could it be revived and how many jobs are we talking about here?
JONATHAN KARL: Well, it can certainly be revived and it will be revived.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Pipeline Showdown; Keystone Vote Fails in Senate]
The jobs estimates range from 4,000 to 40,000 jobs. Proponents say it not only creates jobs, but it could lead to energy independence, but opponents and environmentalists say this would be a terrible thing to do, it would contribute to global warming, but David, this came just one vote short tonight. Republicans takeover the Congress, the Senate in January. They will bring this up first order of business and it will pass.
MUIR: One vote short in the Senate.
The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley that dealt with the Keystone XL pipeline on November 18 is transcribed below.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
November 18, 2014
6:47 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Pipeline Vote]
SCOTT PELLEY: The U.S. Senate has just taken action on a controversial oil pipeline. We'll have that when we come back.
6:50 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Keystone XL Vote]
PELLEY: It was a cliffhanger this evening, but Senate Democrats voted to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas. 59 Senators voted yes, which was one short of the number needed to advance the bill. With that, the Democrats may have also killed the reelection chances of one of their own, and Nancy Cordes reports from Capitol Hill.
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU (LA.) I called for this vote. Not Harry Reid. Not Mitch McConnell. I called for it.
NANCY CORDES: It's been dubbed "A Hail Mary." Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, trailing in her Senate runoff, was granted this vote on a project most of her fellow Democrats oppose, but which is popular in her oil-rich state. The vote drew protests from environmentalists who inflated a giant pipeline outside Landrieu's home on Capitol Hill, but Democrats, who lost eight Senate seats in this month's elections, are hoping to avoid a ninth defeat. Majority Leader Harry Reid.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NEV.): The race is not over in Louisiana. She hasn't given up and we haven't given up on her behalf.
CORDES: Republicans universally support the Keystone Pipeline, which would transport more than 800,000 barrels of crude per day from oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. Republican leader Mitch McConnell:
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY.): It's a vote that’s long overdue, but certainly welcome. Keystone X.L. is just common sense. It's a shovel-ready jobs project that would help thousands of Americans find work.
CORDES: Affection for Landrieu was not enough to sway most Democrats, like California's Barbara Boxer.
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (CALIF.): This isn't about the building of a pipeline. It's what's going into it-- the filthiest, dirtiest oil.
CORDES: Even if the bill had passed tonight, there was no guarantee that it would have helped Landrieu to win her runoff in two weeks. Her GOP opponent in Louisiana was the chief sponsor of the House version of this bill, which did pass last week and, Scott, Republicans even named the bill after him.
PELLEY: Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill. Nancy, thank you.
The complete transcript of the news brief from NBC Nightly News on November 18 is transcribed below.
NBC Nightly News
November 18, 2014
7:10 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Keystone Pipeline]
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Back east to D.C. we go. The long debated Keystone XL Pipeline has fallen short of the 60 votes it needed to pass the Senate. The oil pipeline, if it were to get the go ahead, would run from Canada through the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico. Had this Senate vote gone the other way, the White House has strongly hinted the President would veto it.