An evening after all three broadcast network newscasts led by advancing the Democratic narrative of violent ObamaCare critics, a storyline intended to discredit conservatives as all gratuitously named Sarah Palin as a culprit, on Thursday night the same programs weren't so interested and only stumbled into the suddenly “bipartisan” victims – despite fresh revelations of threats and violence aimed at Republicans who voted no.
“It's getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric,” Brian Williams announced at the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, arguing “the debate over health care reform has gone too far. It's now veered into threats of violence,” citing “ten Democrats who have been threatened.” Incredibly, on Thursday night, Williams still portrayed opponents as the only ones with miscreants amongst their ranks:
While the White House continues to celebrate its largest-ever legislative victory, opponents of health care reform have reacted to the final vote with anger, a few of them with threats of violence.
Two stories later, only after reporter Kelly O'Donnell had noted that “just before the Senators cast their votes, they paused to honor the late Ted Kennedy,” did Williams arrive at the threats “reported by Democrats and Republicans.” Williams:
We have more tonight on the threats that have come in against some members of Congress since this bill passed. Police and the FBI are looking into the e-mails, phone calls and vandalism that have been reported by Democrats and Republicans, some serious business.
CBS on Wednesday night started with “threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform” as Nancy Cordes relayed how “Democrats complain Sarah Palin is also using violent words and imagery.” Thursday night, CBS led with “scandal” in the Catholic church and Cordes got to the threats deep into a story on the “fixes” passing in the Senate as she reported “both sides are accusing the other of stoking disturbing displays” and “the hostile acts have been bipartisan.”
Wednesday night, a dire ABC anchor Diane Sawyer warned “opposition to health care turns menacing,” asserting in setting up a full story that “angry opponents of the bill unleashed threatening phone calls, scathing words, even bricks thrown through windows.” Like CBS, Thursday's World News led with the Catholic church and on the threats offered only this brief item:
FILL-IN ANCHOR DAVID MUIR: There are new reports tonight of threats against members of Congress and they're aimed at both sides of the aisle. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia says a window in his Richmond office was hit by a bullet, but that he initially kept it quiet and today he blasted Democratic leaders for not doing the same.
CONGRESSMAN ERIC CANTOR: Good afternoon. Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue, and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible.
Brian Williams opened the March 25 NBC Nightly News:
Good evening. While the White House continues to celebrate its largest-ever legislative victory, opponents of health care reform have reacted to the final vote with anger, a few of them with threats of violence. Some Republican lawmakers set out to repeal the bill, all of it or part of it, and today, in something of a victory lap speech in Iowa where it all started for him on the road to the White House, President Obama dared the other side to repeal what he has just passed. It's where we begin tonight with White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie.
KELLY O'DONNELL: Just before the Senators cast their votes, they paused to honor the late Ted Kennedy.
SENATOR KENT CONRAD: I know that Senator Kennedy is looking down with an incredible smile on his face as well.
WILLIAMS: We have more tonight on the threats that have come in against some members of Congress since this bill passed. Police and the FBI are looking into the e-mails, phone calls and vandalism that have been reported by Democrats and Republicans, some serious business. Our Justice correspondent, Pete Williams, following it all day from our Washington newsroom....
From the Thursday, March 25 CBS Evening News:
NANCY CORDES: ...The bill now goes to the House where debate today centered not around health care reform, but around who's to blame for the threats some members are receiving.
AUDIO OF MALE VOICE: You should have broke your back (bleep). You and Boehner (bleep) and Mitch McConnell, all of you racist (bleep) Republicans.
CORDES: Both sides are accusing the other of stoking disturbing displays, like this mock wake, complete with a coffin, that was held outside a Democratic Congressman's St. Louis home Sunday night.
MAN: Today is nothing but a day of mourning in America.
CORDES: Democrats claim Republicans haven't done enough to tamp down violent rhetoric by their supporters, but a top Republican, Eric Cantor, says Democrats are fanning the flames by publicizing the threats.
ERIC CANTOR: To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible.
CORDES: The hostile acts have been bipartisan. Cantor's office in Richmond, Virginia, was fired on early Tuesday morning, while an envelope filled with white powder showed up at one of Democrat Anthony Weiner's New York offices today...