Kelly O'Donnell touted Harry Reid's "reputation for mastering the tactical side of politics" on Friday's NBC Nightly News, after the Nevada Democrat announced that he is not running for a sixth term. O'Donnell quickly added that "that skill includes quickly endorsing a successor." However, the correspondent failed to mention that the politician had a significant role in exacerbating the partisan bickering in Congress in recent years. [video below]
Anchor Lester Holt introduced O'Donnell's report by highlighting the "news tonight of a political shakeup. The long-time leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, says he will not run for reelection. And there's already a big name making moves to replace him."
The NBC journalist noted during her report that Senator Reid was "still bruised and partially blinded after a serious home exercise equipment accident in December." She also zeroed in on how President Obama complimented his former Senate colleague hours after his announcement:
KELLY O'DONNELL (voice-over): The Senate's most powerful Democrat is stepping out of the ring.
SENATOR HARRY REID, (D), NEVADA: I'm not going to run for reelection.
O'DONNELL: Harry Reid, still bruised and partially blinded after a serious home exercise equipment accident in December.
REID: But this accident has caused us, for the first time, to have a little down time.
O'DONNELL: Aides say around Christmas, Reid and wife, Landra, decided that he would not battle for a sixth term. But in January, Reid told me, despite injuries, he was ready to run.
O'DONNELL (on-camera, from January 2015 press conference): And is there any situation related to this that would cause you not to seek reelection?
REID: I know, at this stage, I'm fully intending to run.
O'DONNELL (voice-over): Today, on Nevada radio, President Obama surprised him with a call.
PRESIDENT OBAMA (from segment on KNPR radio): He's got that curmudgeonly charm, (Reid laughs) but it's hard to replace. I'm going to miss him.
Just before dropping her "mastering the tactical side of politics" line, O'Donnell played up Reid's simple start to life: "From a childhood in extreme poverty, Reid became a scrappy boxer – later, a U.S. Capitol Police officer." She added that "Democrats are circling around New York's Chuck Schumer – heading off any knock-down, drag-out fight to replace Reid in leadership."
The same evening, ABC's World News Tonight and CBS Evening News aired news briefs on Senator Reid's retirement. Like NBC, they noted the Democrat's recent injury and how Senator Schumer could be his successor. But like their competitor, the two evening newscasts also omitted mentioning the Democrat's responsibility for the gridlock in Congress in the recent past.
The transcripts of the Harry Reid news briefs from Friday's CBS Evening News and ABC's World News Tonight:
06:45 pm EDT
ABC – World News Tonight
DAVID MUIR: And from Washington tonight, Harry Reid – the Democratic Senate minority leader – announcing he will not seek reelection next year, saying his decision has nothing to do with those injuries he sustained while exercising over New Year's. He has endorsed Senator Chuck Schumer now from New York to lead the Democrats in the Senate.
06:39 pm EDT
CBS Evening News
SCOTT PELLEY: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced today that he will not run for a sixth term. Reid is 75, and he's still recovering from injuries after he fell while exercising. He lost the majority leadership position when the Republicans took back the Senate. Chuck Schumer of New York is likely to succeed Reid as the Democratic leader.