ABC, NBC Go Nasty Against GOP Early; ‘White-Hot Rhetoric’ GOP Trying to Stop ‘The New South’

Within moments of the broadcast networks coming on the air Tuesday night with their midterm coverage, ABC, CBS, and NBC had the long knives out for Republicans, condemning their “nativist,” “white-hot rhetoric” creating “one of the most divisive midterms in our lifetime” that was marred by “hate, violence and tragedy.”

Chief anchor George Stephanopoulos and senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega took shots only three minutes in. The former Clinton official told Vega that “the President chose to focus on immigration, on the border,” which was “white-hot rhetoric.”

 

 

Vega was ready to pile on:

This has been one of the most divisive midterms in our lifetime. The President using language that, frankly, appealed to the nativist impulses of voters. You heard him lay out the closing argument crystal clear. America will be overrun by masses of illegal immigrants if you do not vote Republicans. We will see if this argument worked for him and drives that base to the polls or scares voters away. 

Seven minutes later, Stephanopoulos gushed to Nightline co-host Byron Pitts that “[n]ot only” was Arizona changing politically, but “we’re also seeing the face of the South — the political face of the South changing” with far-left Democrat Stacey Abrams running for governor of Georgia. 

Pitts replied that not only would an Abrams win make her “the first black woman governor,” but an Andrew Gillum victory in Florida would make him the first African-American governor as well.

“It’s often said about Georgia where I lived and worked for awhile. There's two Georgia. There’s Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. This isn’t just about pavement and buildings, but the cultural differences across Georgia. It’s the Old South and the New South. We'll see which South wins tonight,” Pitts continued.

At just past the 8:11 p.m. Eastern mark, Stephanopoulos fretted to longtime ABC correspondent Terry Moran that “one thing this election tonight may not do, heal the divides in this nation.”

Moran agreed, opining that “a couple of months ago, it was more or less a normal midterm election,” but the President had to scuttle that “after the Kavanaugh nomination” by having “deliberately turned it to those divisive cultural issues where he can fill his rallies and drive his base to vote.”

Over on NBC, their opening included NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt spun the night as “a divided country at a crossroads” with the “election marked by hate, violence and tragedy” amidst images from the mail bomber story and Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in a clear slight against the Republicans as being responsible for both incidents. 

“Tonight, the moment of truth,” Holt added.

Meanwhile on CBS, the liberal, New York-based anchors shared this exchange about turnout based on their ritzy, dark blue precincts:

GAYLE KING: But it seems to be higher than expected everywhere. When I went to vote, I went back three times today in my neighborhood to vote just because the line was so long and it really didn't clear up in my neighborhood in the upper West Side of New York till 4:00 this afternoon. 

NORAH O’DONNELL: And that's not a bunch of contested elections.

[LAUGHTER]

KING: That’s not something that’s a mystery.

JOHN DICKERSON: No, yeah, it was so bad in mine, the surge of voters broke down all the scanners, everything had to be done by hand.

To see the relevant transcript from ABC’s midterms coverage, click “expand.”

ABC News 2018 Midterm Elections
November 6, 2018
8:03 p.m. Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Cecilia Vega, in the last week, the president chose to focus on immigration, on the border. White-hot rhetoric. 

CECILIA VEGA: This has been one of the most divisive midterms in our lifetime. The President using language that, frankly, appealed to the nativist impulses of voters. You heard him lay out the closing argument crystal clear. America will be overrun by masses of illegal immigrants if you do not vote Republicans. We will see if this argument worked for him and drives that base to the polls or scares voters away. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: There were some Republican leaders in congress wanted him to focus on the economy. 

(....)

8:10 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not only Arizona. I’m going to bring in Byron Pitts on that because we’re also seeing the face of the South — the political face of the South changing, Byron Pitts. 

BYRON PITTS: Well, George, that’s exactly right. I mean, after tonight, we could have potentially a black governor in Florida and the first black woman governor in the country in Georgia and it’s often said about Georgia where I lived and worked for awhile. There's two Georgia. There’s Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. This isn’t just about pavement and buildings, but the cultural differences across Georgia. It’s the Old South and the New South. We'll see which South wins tonight. 

(....)

8:11 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Top issue tonight. Terry Moran, one thing this election tonight may not do, heal the divides in this nation. 

TERRY MORAN: It doesn't look like it and that is partly, I think, the plan that President Trump had. Going into this midterm a couple of months ago, it was more or less a normal midterm election. It would be a performance review on the economy, on health care And he, after the Kavanaugh nomination, deliberately turned it to those divisive cultural issues where he can fill his rallies and drive his base to vote. He decided to campaign on this turf. 

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2018 Governors 2018 Congressional Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC CBS NBC Gayle King Norah O'Donnell John Dickerson Lester Holt Byron Pitts Terry Moran George Stephanopoulos Cecilia Vega Stacey Abrams
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