On Sunday, NBC Highlights DNC Litmus Test Against Pro-Life Democrats

April 25th, 2017 11:15 AM

Of this past Sunday's political talk shows, NBC's Meet the Press went the furthest in informing viewers of Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez's recent statement against Democrats who hold pro-life views as host Chuck Todd brought up the issue with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and even raised the matter again during the show's regular panel segment.

CNN's State of the Union also touched on the issue as CBS's Face the Nation only brought it up vaguely, while ABC's This Week and Fox News Sunday ignored it completely.

NBC's Todd notably called opponents of abortion by their preferred label of "pro-life" in contrast with the standard media practice of calling them "anti-abortion" while supporters of abortion rights are usually denoted by their preferred label of "pro-choice" by liberal journalists.

Speaking to Pelosi, Todd brought up the case of Omaha Democratic mayoral candidate Heath Mello and recalled:

There's been a lot of back and forth, especially among abortion rights activists, about a decision by the Democratic party to support a candidate for mayor in Omaha -- a Democrat -- who happens to be pro-life. And there are some that -- and at some point, the Democratic National Committee chairman actually had to put out the following statement after three days of back and forth.

The NBC host then read Perez's statement addressing candidate Mello's history of voting against abortion in the state legislature:

I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello's personal beliefs about women's reproductive health. It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic party's position on women's fundamental rights. Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same because every woman should be able to make her own health choices, period.

As Pelosi initially appealed for Todd to ask Perez about his statement instead of her, the NBC host posed: "Let me ask you this. But can you be a Democrat and a supporter of the Democratic party if you're pro-life?"

Later in the show, Todd brought up the issue again for the panelists to address: "I have to say, I mean, they're fighting over Omaha mayor. And you saw Tom Perez spent his entire week having to backtrack on it. And you heard Nancy Pelosi there, Savannah: No, no, no, no, we welcome pro-life Democrats."

Today show co-host and panel member Savannah Guthrie began:

Tom Perez takes the position that's something close to a purity test or a litmus test saying if you want to be a Democrat, you have to hold these pro-choice views. Nancy Pelosi didn't go there. I mean, Democrats have to work out these politics for themselves. 

She likened the internal conflict by Democrats to that experienced by Republicans as she continued:

They're going through something that the Republicans have gone through -- and arguably are still going through -- where you have the grassroots, all the energy is on the far left, just as on the right, the energy is on the far right. But are you going to win elections like that? That's the big question.

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan then added:

 If I can put it this way -- those who profit from abortion or health services, women's health services -- however you put it -- they give a lot of money to the Democratic party. The Democratic party should say, "Thank you very much, but you know what? We're going back to be a big tent party."

On CNN's State of the Union, substitute host Dana Bash brought up NARAL's criticism of Senator Bernie Sanders for endorsing candidate Mello as Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin appeared as a guest. Without going so far as to mention Perez's statement, Bash posed:

A debate broke out in your party this week when Bernie Sanders endorsed a candidate with a pro-life voting record for mayor of Omaha in Nebraska. Ilyse Hogue -- who is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America -- called the endorsement a "betrayal" of women. Where do you come down on this debate? Are you with NARAL or Senator Sanders?

On CBS's Face the Nation, host John Dickerson bought up the issue only vaguely to Senator Bernie Sanders as the Democratic-leaning independent Senator appeared as a guest. Dickerson:

One of the things to debate as Democrats try to fix the party is this question of: Should there be a prioritization? You've put those populist economic issues at the forefront. One of the reasons that there's a debate about the Omaha candidate for mayor is that he is against abortion rights. And so there's a debate about cultural issues versus economic. How does the party sort all that out?