ABC Spends Day Before Wisconsin Vote Resurrecting Tabloid Smear of Cruz

On the night before voters in Wisconsin go to the polls for the presidential primary, ABC’s World News Tonight found it worthwhile to spend nearly its entire time allotted for Ted Cruz rehashing the unsubstantiated smears from the National Enquirer tabloid about extramarital affairs.

All told, the networks wasted 55 seconds (out of the one minute and 16 seconds spent on Cruz) working to help resurrect the story in light of Megyn Kelly’s brief exchange with Cruz in a taped town hall that will air as an hour-long special on the Fox News Channel.

Anchor David Muir led into Republican campaign correspondent Tom Llamas’s report by harping on Trump being “in damage control” after his abortion comments last week and an interview one of Trump’s ex-wives recently gave before proclaiming: “Ted Cruz this evening, asked by Megyn Kelly, ‘have you committed adultery?’”

Llamas wound his way through the latest musings from Trump and how Ivana Trump told the New York Post that the country needs immigrants so they can be maids and vacuum homes before he eventually arrived at Cruz (who’s actually leads in most polls from the Badger State).

“But as Trump trips, Senator Ted Cruz also facing some tough questions tonight, asked about a National Enquirer report citing rumors of martial infidelity,” Llamas explained.

He then played the short exchange from the town hall in which Kelly File host Megyn Kelly brought it up:

FNC’s MEGYN KELLY [TO CRUZ]: Have you committed adultery? 

REPUBLICAN SENATOR TED CRUZ (Tex.): I have not. That attack was complete and utter garbage. It was complete lies. 

KELLY [TO CRUZ]: Not going to be any e-mails or texts or videos, sir?

CRUZ: It's completely made-up nonsense. It's simply not true. I have always been faithful to my wife. I love wife.

At the end of the day, it’s one matter for Kelly to spend a small amount of time alluding to the smear since she had an hour to speak with Cruz, but it’s another for a network newscast with only a handful of minutes to summarize the day’s news and harping on something that hasn’t been corroborated.

Without a hint of irony that it’s the media that have contributed to the shaping of the campaign agenda, Llamas touted how he was able to speak with Cruz following the event:

LLAMAS: Afterward, I spoke with Cruz, who has been campaigning with his wife, Heidi, and their two daughters? [TO CRUZ] Does it bother you where the tone of this campaign has gone with your girls and your wife here? 

CRUZ: We're not paying attention to it. I think one of the dynamics we’ve seen more and more is Donald Trump's angry, screaming, cursing, yelling attacks. People are tuning it out. They've discovered that's the one thing he knows how to do.

The network-wide obsession with this type of story only further bolsters new data the MRC’s Rich Noyes released on Monday morning that shows the evening newscasts have awarded Trump 75 percent of their coverage for March 2016. 

According to Noyes, Trump amassed an astounding 267 minutes on Trump versus only 52 minutes for Cruz (14.1 percent overall) and 18 minutes for Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich (4.8 percent).

The transcript of the tease and segment from ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on April 4 can be found below.

ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
April 4, 2016
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Breaking News; Race for 2016]

DAVID MUIR: Tonight, what a loss in Wisconsin would mean for Donald Trump, as his ex-wife Ivana Trump, causes a controversy. And Megyn Kelly asking Ted Cruz: “Have you committed adultery?”

(....)

6:36 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Race for 2016; The Wives Club]

MUIR: Next tonight, to the race for the White House and the critical state of Wisconsin up next. Donald Trump in damage control after his comments about abortion and punishment last week. Tonight, Trump saying he wishes he had answered differently and now his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, causing a new controversy and Ted Cruz this evening, asked by Megyn Kelly, “have you committed adultery?" ABC’s Tom Llamas from Milwaukee tonight. 

TOM LLAMAS: Tonight, Donald Trump refusing to surrender in the battle for Wisconsin. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Race for 2016; The Wives Club; Trump Doing Damage Control]

DONALD TRUMP: Everybody said that's the end of Trump, it's over for Trump. [SCREEN WIPE] I've been given the last rights how times, like, ten? Every week, it's the end of Trump.

LLAMAS: But tonight, Trump's aides privately concede he will probably lose Wisconsin as he now fights another battle — struggling to repair his image with women. 

TRUMP: Nobody has greater respect for women than Donald Trump. Nobody. Nobody. 

LLAMAS: And again, enlisting his wife, Melania. 

TRUMP: My wife is coming up. She’s going to campaign. 

LLAMAS: And even his ex-wife, Ivana, talking up Trump's respect for women in an interview, but a demeaning comment about immigrants from the former Mrs. Trump, an immigrant herself, now grabbing more attention. Ivana Trump saying: “We need immigrants. Who’s going to vacuum our living rooms and clean up after us? Americans don't like to do that.” Trump trying to bounce back after a rough week. From his campaign manager charged with battery to multiple fumbles on abortion, including this latest one —

TRUMP: At this moment, the laws are set and I think we have to leave it that way. 

LLAMAS: Trump later clarifying that as president, he would fight to make abortion illegal, but as Trump trips, Senator Ted Cruz also facing some tough questions tonight. Asked about a National Enquirer report citing rumors of martial infidelity.

FNC’s MEGYN KELLY [TO CRUZ]: Have you committed adultery? 

REPUBLICAN SENATOR TED CRUZ (Tex.): I have not. That attack was complete and utter garbage. It was complete lies. 

KELLY [TO CRUZ]: Not going to be any e-mails or texts or videos, sir?

CRUZ: It's completely made-up nonsense. It's simply not true. I have always been faithful to my wife. I love wife.

LLAMAS: Afterward, I spoke with Cruz, who has been campaigning with his wife, Heidi, and their two daughters? [TO CRUZ] Does it bother you where the tone of this campaign has gone with your girls and your wife here? 

CRUZ: We're not paying attention to it. I think one of the dynamics we’ve seen more and more is Donald Trump's angry, screaming, cursing, yelling attacks. People are tuning it out. They've discovered that's the one thing he knows how to do. 

LLAMAS:  Now, Heidi Cruz getting a half-hearted apology from Donald Trump. The billionaire voicing some rare rejects about retweeting this unflattering image of her. 

TRUMP: I could have gone without the retweet, et cetera, et cetera, but I think I’m doing okay.

LLAMAS: And now, trump trying to turn the page, unveiling a new doomsday prediction, this time about the economy. 

TRUMP: We're going to go into a massive recession, but I also say, if I'm president, that's not going to happen. 

MUIR: And Tom Llamas with us live from Wisconsin. Tom, Donald Trump says he's going to win tomorrow, but what are you hearing from his aides tonight?

LLAMAS: Well, David, some inside the Trump campaign are telling us that they think Ted Cruz will win here in Wisconsin tomorrow. If that happens, it’s going to be incredibly hard for Trump to win the nomination outright, by collecting enough delegates. That would lead to a contested convention, and what could be an epic battle on the convention floor. David? 

MUIR: Tom llamas, with us from Wisconsin tonight, thanks as always.


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW
Tell the Truth 2016 NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Political Scandals Sex Scandals ABC World News Tonight Video Government & Press David Muir Tom Llamas Ted Cruz Donald Trump
Curtis Houck's picture