NBC Highlights Rand Paul Slamming Media Coverage of Assault by Liberal Neighbor

On Thursday afternoon, news broke that  Republican Senator Rand Paul's office had disputed claims aired in the media that the Kentucky Senator had been in an ongoing dispute with his neighbor, Rene Boucher, before being tackled in his yard about a week ago, calling the accounts "fake news," and claiming that the two had not even spoken to each other in many years.

But ABC's World News Tonight and Good Morning America both ignored Senator Paul's complaints as they continued to air stories updating viewers on the situation. The NBC Nightly News more directly gave attention to Senator Paul's side of the story as the CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning quoted a lesser portion of the Kentucky Senator's statement.

On Thursday's World News Tonight, host David Muir read a 19-second brief without mentioning the Republican Senator's complaints:

The attack on Senator Rand Paul, the Senator suffering six broken ribs after being allegedly beaten by his neighbor while mowing his lawn. Dr. Rene Boucher pleading not guilty in court today, ordered to stay away from the Senator. Neighbors suggesting the fight was, quote, "yard rage," angry over the way the Senator allegedly keeps his lawn.

But in a full report on the same night's NBC Nightly News, reporter Blake McCoy informed viewers:

But Senator Paul has retweeted two articles quoting neighbors calling that "fake news," and, in a statement tonight, "As to reports of a longstanding dispute with the attacker, the Pauls have had no conversations with him in many years... This was not a fight, it was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person."

And on the CBS Evening News, correspondent Dean Reynolds more vaguely noted Senator Paul's reaction as the CBS reporter recounted: "Paul's office said he was 'blindsided' while mowing his lawn 'in a violent attack by a disturbed person,' a reference to Boucher..."

CBS did not inform viewers of Senator Paul's claims that the two had not spoken to each other in a long time, in spite of reports of an ongoing dispute.

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The CBS report also finally identified the attacker as being liberal as Reynolds related, "While Paul is very conservative and Boucher is very liberal, their friends say politics was not the cause. It was trivial, they say, it was about lawn maintenance -- a humdrum dispute that's lasted years."

The next morning on Friday's Today show on NBC, the story was not mentioned, and on CBS This Morning, a similar report ran from the previous night's Evening News. ABC's Good Morning America showed viewers a full report by correspondent Steve Osunsami in which ABC still failed to pass on to viewers that Senator Paul had disputed accounts that he had been in an ongoing dispute with his neighbor.

Additionally, although Osunsami vaguely noted that, "Politically, these two men couldn't be farther apart," the ABC correspondent more directly labeled another of Paul's neighbors as a "Republican" as he devoted most of the piece to promoting the theory that the attack happened because Senator Paul is messy in tending to his lawn.

OSUNSAMI: People who live here tell us that what happened in the grass between their homes can be summed up in two words: "yard rage." Paul is famous for mowing his own lawn and posting pictures to prove it, and he's equally famous -- according to some neighbors -- for not bagging all his leaves.

JIM SKAGGS, NEIGHBOR OF SENATOR RAND PAUL: They had a big spat, and they were quarreling. That would not have surprised me.

OSUNSAMI: Jim Skaggs is a former Republican party official who built this exclusive gated community in Kentucky. He says the two men have argued about their lawns over the years. It sounds like you believe this is more about leaves and tree limbs than about politics. 

SKAGGS: It would seem to me that that would make more sense. It really doesn't make a lot of sense at all that you would be this violent over a leaf.

Relevant transcripts follow:

#From the Thursday, November 9, World News Tonight on ABC:

DAVID MUIR: The attack on Senator Rand Paul, the Senator suffering six broken ribs after being allegedly beaten by his neighbor while mowing his lawn. Dr. Rene Boucher pleading not guilty in court today, ordered to stay away from the Senator. Neighbors suggesting the fight was, quote, "yard rage," angry over the way the Senator allegedly keeps his lawn.

#From the Thursday, November 9, CBS Evening News:

ANTHONY MASON: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul likely won't be mending fences with his neighbor anytime soon. The two men -- both doctors -- had an altercation last week. The Senator suffered serious injuries. The neighbor faced a judge today. Here's Dean Reynolds.

DEAN REYNOLDS: The retired doctor wore a light blue suit and a calm expression into court today, pleading not guilty to a misdemeanor that could land him in jail for a year. ... Fifty-nine-year-old Rene Boucher lived next door to Paul for 17 years, but the two hadn't spoken to each other for a long time. Until last Friday, that is, when a curious incident took place near this stand of trees between their homes. Paul's office said he was "blindsided" while mowing his lawn "in a violent attack by a disturbed person," a reference to Boucher, whose attorney is Matt Baker.

MATT BAKER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think "blindsided" is a very unfair characterization.

REYNOLDS: Does your client acknowledge touching the Senator?

BAKER: Yes.

REYNOLDS: In a violent fashion?

BAKER: I'm not going to go that far.

REYNOLDS: Initially, the police said Paul had minor injuries, but now, almost a week later, he says he has six broken ribs. Neighbor Alicia Stivers saw him right after whatever it was that happened.

ALICIA STIVERS, NEIGHBOR OF SENATOR RAND PAUL: He was having trouble breathing and talking, He had lacerations on his face.

REYNOLDS: Neighbor Jim Skaggs related what he'd heard.

JIM SKAGGS, NEIGHBOR OF SENATOR RAND PAUL: He just ran and hit Paul from the rear, and then I don't know whether he pounded him or what he did. I think he just broke.

REYNOLDS: While Paul is very conservative and Boucher is very liberal, their friends say politics was not the cause. It was trivial, they say, it was about lawn maintenance -- a humdrum dispute that's lasted years.

SKAGGS: It's just beyond comprehension that two very smart people could let a little blade of grass or a twig or even politics could cause a harmful bodily injury like this.

REYNOLDS: It's so beyond comprehension that almost nobody in town believes it. For now, though, we're told the Senator has retained a personal injury lawyer while Dr. Boucher is due back here in court for a pre-trial conference at the end of the month.
 
#From the Thursday, November 9, NBC Nightly News:

LESTER HOLT: Appearing in court today, the neighbor accused of attacking Rand Paul at the Senator's own Kentucky home. He pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault, but now he could face more serious charges, and the motive for the attack is till surrounded in mystery. NBC's Blake McCoy has the latest.

BLAKE MCCOY: Silence as he entered the courthouse today, Rene Boucher pleading not guilty to fourth degree assault against Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Now, a new dispute over what prompted the dispute inside this gated Bowling Green community. The men -- both doctors -- have lived next door to each other for 17 years separated by grass but no fence. A neighbor says Paul called her immediately after being tackled from behind Friday while mowing the lawn and said it was over landscaping.

ALICIA STIVERS, NEIGHBOR OF SENATOR RAND PAUL: When he got up, Rene was just screaming something about "I've been trying to sell my house for 10 years, and, you know, your trees are in the way."

MCCOY: Rene Boucher's attorney backs that up. So this really is about a messy yard?

PETER BAKER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a messy yard.

MCCOY: But Senator Paul has retweeted two articles quoting neighbors calling that "fake news," and, in a statement tonight, "As to reports of a longstanding dispute with the attacker, the Pauls have had no conversations with him in many years... This was not a fight, it was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person."

DANNY CEVALLOS, NBC LEGAL ANALYST: Senator Paul's statement is really important because it shows that the Senator is not backing down. The Senator wants this prosecution to go on.

MCCOY: Senator Paul is recovering from six broken ribs -- injuries more serious than initially thought. Due to the severity of Senator Paul's injuries, prosecutors are weighing whether to elevate the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony. State police tell me tonight they're waiting to see the Senator's medical records before handing over their investigation.

#From the Friday, November 10, Good Morning America on ABC:

MICHAEL STRAHAN: And this morning, we're also learning more about what may have sparked that encounter between Senator Rand Paul and his neighbor that left the Senator with six broken ribs. Steve Osunsami in Bowling Green with new reporting. Good morning, Steve.

STEVE OSUNSAMI: Good morning, Steve. Politically, these two men couldn't be farther apart, and friends of the Senator believe that's why his neighbor lost it, but homeowners we talked with say this argument was probably over something much more simple. Dr. Rene Boucher -- Senator Rand Paul's neighbor seen here in court -- is out on bond this morning, ordered to stay at least 200 feet away from the lawmaker. He's accused of attacking the Senator last Friday and breaking six of the Senator's ribs. 

He is pleading not guilty, but police say he's already admitted to tackling his famous neighbor. People who live here tell us that what happened in the grass between their homes can be summed up in two words: "yard rage." Paul is famous for mowing his own lawn and posting pictures to prove it, and he's equally famous -- according to some neighbors -- for not bagging all his leaves.

JIM SKAGGS, NEIGHBOR OF SENATOR RAND PAUL: They had a big spat, and they were quarreling. That would not have surprised me.

OSUNSAMI: Jim Skaggs is a former Republican party official who built this exclusive gated community in Kentucky. He says the two men have argued about their lawns over the years. It sounds like you believe this is more about leaves and tree limbs than about politics. 

SKAGGS: It would seem to me that that would make more sense. It really doesn't make a lot of sense at all that you would be this violent over a leaf.

OSUNSAMI: The retired anesthesiologist had at one point been trying to sell his home and move to Florida. These are pictures from one of the listings. He could now spend up to a year in jail if convicted.

MATT BAKER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They got into a disagreement, and it ultimately resulted in my client being charged with fourth degree assault. I can assure you he wished it never had happened.

OSUNSAMI: Just to underline, these two men are doctors, and this could get more serious. The FBI is now talking to both the Senator and local authorities. There is the possibility here of federal charges.


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CyberAlerts Crime ABC Good Morning America World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News CBS This Morning NBC NBC Nightly News Video David Muir Rand Paul Steve Osunsami