ABC and NBC Offer Mushy Briefs on Retiring Democratic Senator Mikulski; Refuse to Label Her a Liberal

The Monday editions of ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News aired news briefs on the announcement that Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski will not seek a sixth term in the Senate in 2016 and instead retire. In their coverage, however, they both failed to label Mikulski a liberal and heaped only effusive praise on her.

On ABC, anchor David Muir hailed the announcement as “the end of an era in Washington” for the 78-year old “longest serving woman in Congress” who was “the daughter of a grocer.”

Muir continued the gooey tribute by remarking that while “four-feet-11-inches tall,” “she’s towering in spirit” among those “on both sides of the aisle” and retiring not “out of frustration, no health problems” but because “she just wants to focus on her constituents rather than campaigning.”

He capped off the 31-second brief by mentioning some of President Obama’s thoughts on the announcement: “President Obama tonight, saying her service has ‘spann[ed] decades, but her legacy will span generations.’”

Over on NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Savannah Guthrie said this about Mikulski:

The longest serving woman in the history of Congress, Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, announced today she will not seek re-election, choosing to retire when her fifth term ends in 2017. Mikulski, who is now 78 years old, was first elected to the House in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 1987.

In the case of NBC, this is the second instance in less than a year where the network’s evening newscast has declined to apply the term liberal to a retiring Democratic Senator. On January 8, now-suspended anchor Brian Williams refused to describe California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer as liberal, progressive, or even far-left in her politics. Instead, he opined that Boxer was “one of the most prominent” Democrats in the Golden State.

The transcript of the brief from ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on March 2 can be found below.

ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
March 2, 2015
6:44 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Mikulski Retiring]

DAVID MUIR: And now to the end of an era in Washington. Democrat Barbara Mikulski from Maryland, revealing she will retire next year after five terms in the Senate. The longest-serving woman in Congress, 78 years old, the daughter of a grocer, four-feet-11-inches tall, but on both sides of the aisle, they know she's towering in spirit. The first woman to chair the Appropriations Committee, she says she’s not resigning out of frustration, no health problems, she just wants to focus on her constituents rather than campaigning, she says. President Obama tonight, saying her service has “spann[ed] decades, but her legacy will span generations.”

The brief that aired on NBC Nightly News on March 2 is transcribed below.

NBC Nightly News
March 2, 2015
7:23 p.m. Eastern

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The longest serving woman in the history of Congress, Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, announced today she will not seek re-election, choosing to retire when her fifth term ends in 2017. Mikulski, who is now 78 years old, was first elected to the House in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 1987.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections Congress Double Standards Labeling Liberals & Democrats ABC World News Tonight NBC NBC Nightly News Maryland Video Government & Press Savannah Guthrie David Muir Barbara Mikulski
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