When Speaker Pelosi called for the State of the Union address to be postponed, network morning show anchors celebrated it as a “bold” move and a “power play” — until they needed an excuse to criticize the President for retaliating. President Trump responded Thursday to Pelosi’s move by cancelling her military flight overseas, prompting those same network hosts to redefine the whole ordeal as a “petty feud.”
On Thursday, the morning show hosts on ABC, CBS, and NBC had nothing but admiration for Pelosi’s letter to the President expressing her desire to cancel the State of the Union address. On three occasions, hosts on ABC’s Good Morning America deemed it a “power play,” and congressional correspondent Mary Bruce called the Democratic Speaker’s move “bold” and “brazen.”
The “power play” language was also heard on NBC’s Today. There, NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander marveled that Pelosi was “flexing her muscles.” On CBS This Morning, it was framed as adroit “political maneuvering” and a “power move.”
For the reaction on Thursday's morning shows, watch the video below:
However, after President Trump cancelled Pelosi’s military plane to Afghanistan that same day, network hosts shifted gears. None of the three morning shows on Friday offered any further characterization of Pelosi’s move. Instead, they portrayed both sides as embroiled in a petty game of politics — with extra emphasis on the President.
A far cry from the previous day's verbiage, ABC’s senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega soft-pedaled Pelosi’s letter as a mere suggestion on Good Morning America: “After she suggested he postpone the State of the Union, he abruptly cancelled her trip to Afghanistan on a military plane.” Over at CBS This Morning, the feud was described as a “petty political battle,” but hosts used no negative language to specifically reference Pelosi’s letter.
Meanwhile, Peter Alexander remarked on NBC’s Today that Trump’s “apparent payback” to Pelosi was “laced with sarcasm,” though he also described it as a “power play.” Like CBS, no NBC journalists offered any further remarks about Pelosi’s actions in particular. Hosts instead described the back-and-forth as “bitter” and full of “pettiness.”
The network hosts would have appeared hypocritical if they had continued to praise Pelosi’s move, while at the same time lambasting Trump for hitting back. But thanks to their commentary on Thursday (which occurred before the President had retaliated), the appearance of a double standard remains.