The Wednesday editions of ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News each provided their own wrap-ups of the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate from the night before, but the theme was predictably similar as both networks spun the event as illustrating “fierce opposition” and “dramatic divisions” within the GOP on apparently every issue.
NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt explained to viewers that those who tuned in witnessed “eight candidates with a very different visions for the party and for the country that they’re all battling to lead.”
This doom and gloom picture Holt painted of the substantive debate stood in contrast with how Holt spun the first Democratic debate the day after it took place (during the October 14 newscast) by touting Clinton as having “retaken control of the conversation” and provided no mention to how the five candidates that appeared differed on a number of issues:
Today, however, for this moment, Hillary Clinton is appearing to have retaken control of the conversation. Her debate performance last night in which she mocked and framed Republican attacks against her and stood toe-to-toe with her opponents may give nervous supporters a reason to breathe easier and rivals and critics a reason for pause.
Fast forwarding back to the present, correspondent Hallie Jackson followed Holt’s lead and ruled that a slew of “[f]iery moments on Fox Business Network reveal[ed] dramatic divisions in the Republican Party about immigration, foreign policy, and tax reform, issues at the core of what it means to be conservative.”
This allowed Jackson to tee up former View co-host and newly-minted MSNBC political analyst Nicolle Wallace to add: “What happened after the debate ended last night was a real fight for the hearts and souls of Republican primary voters around issues that used to unite our party and now divide a lot of Republican primary voters.”
Jackson then brought Jeb Bush and John Kasich into the fray by hyping: “On immigration, John Kasich and Jeb Bush taking aim at Donald Trump's plan to deport an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants....Hillary Clinton piling on as Trump, who today says he’d use a deportation force[.]”
Over on ABC, Republican campaign correspondent Tom Llamas sang the same tune by reporting that there was “fierce opposition” as illegal immigration was “back, front and center” with “Donald Trump renewing his push for mass deportations.”
Along with NBC’s Jackson, Llamas plugged Bush going after Trump: “Jeb Bush, eager for a strong debate performance, join[ed] the attack on Trump.”
As this writer chronicled here earlier Wednesday night, the CBS Evening News played up Bush and Kasich in their disagreements with Trump and later featured fill-in anchor Charlie Rose appearing befuddled to Face the Nation anchor John Dickerson that Clinton’s Republican presidential opponents would dare criticize her.
The relevant portions of the transcript from November 11's NBC Nightly News can be found below.
NBC Nightly News
November 11, 2015
7:08 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Party Divided]
LESTER HOLT: More than 13 million people tuned in to watch the 2016 Republican candidates face-off in last night's main debate and what they saw were eight candidates with a very different visions for the party and for the country that they’re all battling to lead. Here’s NBC’s Hallie Jackson.
HALLIE JACKSON: In a race defined by personalities, GOP candidates are fresh off a debate dominated by policy instead.
[TRUMP AND KASICH ARGUING]
JACKSON: Fiery moments on Fox Business Network revealing dramatic divisions in the Republican Party about immigration, foreign policy, and tax reform, issues at the core of what it means to be conservative.
MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST NICOLLE WALLACE: What happened after the debate ended last night was a real fight for the hearts and souls of Republican primary voters around issues that used to unite our party and now divide a lot of Republican primary voters.
JACKSON: On immigration, John Kasich and Jeb Bush taking aim at Donald Trump's plan to deport an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
JACKSON: Hillary Clinton piling on as Trump, who today says he’d use a deportation force, points to precedent, deportations in the 50s under Dwight Eisenhower, an operation with a name now so offensive it is considered a slur.
JACKSON: And on taxes, more distinctions. Most notably? Ben Carson’s plan to get rid of popular home mortgage deductions and tax breaks for charitable donations. His donations, on the other hand, rolling in. Carson’s Teams says he raised a million dollars since the debate and the campaign of Marco Rubio, opening his South Carolina headquarters tonight, says he has seen a record surge in donations. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, coming off what many consider his best debate performance, is picking up support on this Veterans Day from Bob Dole, the Republican nominee two decades ago who ultimately lost to a Clinton.