ABC Marvels at Abrams’s ‘Energetic Delivery’; Marvel at Pelosi’s ‘Fascinating’ Reactions to Trump

While more tamed than NBC’s trainwreck State of the Union coverage, there was still moments of liberal bias Tuesday night in ABC’s coverage that knocked the speech being delivered by a President for having “real tension”, and praised the Democratic response by Stacey Abrams as having “vivid language and energetic delivery.”

Chief anchor and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos tried to appear impartial at the start, taking note of how President Trump challenged the American people and Congress to “choose greatness” and provided “moments that unified that chamber tonight.”

 

 

But just like his competitors on NBC, Stephanopoulos fretted about Trump’s allusion to the Mueller investigation:

One line that did not get some love — applause from Democrats, if there's going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. The President making an interesting choice there, to bring up the investigations, the Robert Mueller investigation though they didn't say it by name, a choice that echoes Richard Nixon, who brought up Watergate, said it must end in 1974. In 1998, 1999, Bill Clinton didn't mention the investigations, the Monica Lewinsky at all. 

While CBS and NBC didn’t have a single conservative voice (opting instead to stick with journalists), ABC had right-of-center voices like Chris Christie and Meghan McCain to counter Cokie Roberts and whatever self-indulging ideology Matthew Dowd follows.

In response to Stephanopoulos talking about the Mueller probe, Christie hit back (click “expand”): 

Well, listen, George, I think, you know, he gave Democrats there tonight a lot of opportunity, if they wanted to, and they didn't take much of it, to applaud, whether it was lower prescription drug prices, whether it was coming together on issues like infrastructure, and he wanted to draw a line, too. That he was going to make sure they understood that if investigations got out of hand by the Congress, that it was going to slow their ability to do the kind of bipartisan things he was recommending and so, I think the President set the tone he wanted to set tonight, but remember something, this is still Donald Trump, so, he's going to draw a line and let them know that if they get out of control on congressional investigations, that's going to slow down his willingness to work with them.

But when there was supposed to be objective analysis, there was bias. 

Here’s an exchange between Stephanopoulos and pro-liberal correspondent Mary Bruce (click “expand”):

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mary Bruce, it was fascinating to watch House Speaker Nancy Pelosi through that hour and 20 minutes. 

BRUCE: Really remarkable to watch her reaction throughout that entire speech. At moments, she seemed to be keeping track of the President's remarks there, looking over the papers in front of her and, look, she made very clear where she disagreed with the President. When he issued what was a stark warning to Democrats that they should not be investigating with them if they want to maintain hope for compromise, Pelosi shook her head, you heard audible groans from many of the Democrats there. That is something that Nancy Pelosi is not simply going to rein in. She’s made that very clear that, if the president expects them to dial back their oversight responsibilities, he can think twice about that and then, of course, on issue of the wall because that is the most pressing issue here before this Congress, George. We have just ten days for lawmakers to come together and try to strike a deal to prevent yet another shutdown. The President made very clear, he said, he thinks walls work, walls save lives. A lot of Democrats disagreeing with that sentiment and Nancy Pelosi making very clear that that is still a huge sticking point between she and the President. 

Before he closed out the night, Stephanopoulos went to get a final comment from chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl by informing him that he seemed “a real tension tonight in the President's speech” because while “[h]e did want at least to appear to be reaching out to Democrats...you saw real energy in his voice, in his body language when he had those lines taking on Democrats.”

ABC offered a more condensed reaction to the Abrams speech than NBC, but it was still nonetheless all positive.

Stephanopoulos swooned that “[s]he made her bid with vivid language and energetic delivery, direct shots at the President.”

Dowd agreed, dubbing “dramatic” and a speech that contained “more language of bipartisanship than the President did in his speech” because while “[t]he President said he was coming with comity, and the Congress, the Democrats, responded with comedy, sort of laughing at him, grinning at him, and the Americans looking at Washington think it's a tragedy, but I think she did a wonderful job in that moment.”

To see the relevant transcript from ABC’s State of the Union coverage on February 5, click “expand.”

ABC State of the Union
February 5, 2019
10:29 p.m. Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: There it is. President Trump wrapping up his third speech in the house chamber, his second State of the Union, echoing the key themes of his campaign, Make America Great Again, by telling the American people to choose greatness, telling the members of congress to choose greatness. He said coming in it would be a call to unity, and there were moments that unified that chamber tonight. Cheering for those D-Day veterans, for the first prisoners released as a result of the President's First Step Act prison reform. Matthew Charles and in a sweet, somewhat odd moment, the chamber singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor, survivor of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting Judah Samet. But, Cokie Roberts, perhaps the most — the biggest night — the biggest unity came was an inadvertent moment, when the President praised the women’s big gains in the American employment today, congratulated the women members of Congress, they rose up in one and he said, you weren't supposed to do that. 

(....)

10:31 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: One line that did not get some love — applause from Democrats, if there's going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. The President making an interesting choice there, to bring up the investigations, the Robert Mueller investigation though they didn't say it by name, a choice that echoes Richard Nixon, who brought up Watergate, said it must end in 1974. In 1998, 1999, Bill Clinton didn't mention the investigations, the Monica Lewinsky at all. 

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, listen, George, I think, you know, he gave Democrats there tonight a lot of opportunity, if they wanted to, and they didn't take much of it, to applaud, whether it was lower prescription drug prices, whether it was coming together on issues like infrastructure, and he wanted to draw a line, too. That he was going to make sure they understood that if investigations got out of hand by the Congress, that it was going to slow their ability to do the kind of bipartisan things he was recommending and so, I think the President set the tone he wanted to set tonight, but remember something, this is still Donald Trump, so, he's going to draw a line and let them know that if they get out of control on congressional investigations, that's going to slow down his willingness to work with them.

(....)

10:33 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mary Bruce, it was fascinating to watch House Speaker Nancy Pelosi through that hour and 20 minutes. 

MARY BRUCE: Really remarkable to watch her reaction throughout that entire speech. At moments, she seemed to be keeping track of the President's remarks there, looking over the papers in front of her and, look, she made very clear where she disagreed with the President. When he issued what was a stark warning to Democrats that they should not be investigating with them if they want to maintain hope for compromise, Pelosi shook her head, you heard audible groans from many of the Democrats there. That is something that Nancy Pelosi is not simply going to rein in. She’s made that very clear that, if the president expects them to dial back their oversight responsibilities, he can think twice about that and then, of course, on issue of the wall because that is the most pressing issue here before this Congress, George. We have just ten days for lawmakers to come together and try to strike a deal to prevent yet another shutdown. The President made very clear, he said, he thinks walls work, walls save lives. A lot of Democrats disagreeing with that sentiment and Nancy Pelosi making very clear that that is still a huge sticking point between she and the President. 

(....)

10:50 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Big smile there from Stacey Abrams. Maybe the toughest speech in politics to pull off. She made her bid with vivid language and energetic delivery, direct shots at the President. Matt Dowd, she didn't say the President's name, but the contrast could not have been more clear. 

MATTHEW DOWD: More dramatic, and I thought, as I was watching that, that was a very difficult to hold that stage, and she held it well, is she actually had more language of bipartisanship than the President did in his speech. The President said he was coming with comity, and the Congress, the Democrats, responded with comedy, sort of laughing at him, grinning at him, and the Americans looking at Washington think it's a tragedy, but I think she did a wonderful job in that moment. But out of the both of this, I don’t see bipartisanship coming.

(....)

10:54 p.m. Eastern

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was a line there that divided the chamber tonight. Republicans see a wedge issue in late-term abortion. I want to bring in Meghan McCain. Meghan, you haven't been the biggest fan of the President, but this is an issue that resonates with Republican voters and those legislators. 

MEGHAN MCCAIN: [MIC NOT ON] — hard to say it just resonates with a lot of American voters. The polling on this suggests 70 percent to 80 percent of Americans including women and Democrats are against abortion past 20 weeks. You can thank Ralph Northam for bringing this conversation onto the national stage. Obviously, the controversial Governor is the one who ignited a firestorm with his radio interview over these comments. It’s interesting to note that Nancy Pelosi's guest tonight was the head of planned Parenthood who spent over $2 million backing Ralph Northam. This is a political issue that is designed to force Democrats to answer questions that they aren't necessarily comfortable answering, whether or not this is the party of abortion being safe, legal and rare or now going onto being the party of late-term, 20-week abortion. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that is, Terry Moran, going to be the President's goal here, but you saw Stacey Abrams right there talk about Roe v. Wade. 

TERRY MORAN: That’s right and that is, obviously, one of the big cleaving issues in American life today. But there were moments where you could almost see the possibilities of deals. One, on infrastructure, another on trade. Perhaps the biggest thing the president has done is change the consensus around globalization. Democrats like that, too and they might have a deal, except they're at loggerheads and everything else. 

(....)

10:56 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl, let me come back to you. I think there was a real tension tonight in the President's speech, we've been noting it. He did want at least to appear to be reaching out to Democrats and did get, as Terry said, applause on trade, applause on prescription drugs, also on that prison reform, but you saw real energy in his voice, in his body language when he had those lines taking on Democrats. 

JONATHAN KARL: Take the lines, taking on Democrats, the hard line on the war, but George, even when he was doing that, it was notable, he talked about the need to have the wall on the southern border, but he did not repeat his threat to shutdown the government to get that wall. He used the word compromise when talking about it and George, he did not say anything about declaring a national emergency. So, I thought that what was actually most remarkable about this speech is the President coming into a chamber where he has been relentlessly attacking Democrats, they have been relentlessly attacking him, he found a way to get applause from both sides of the chamber. Of course, some of those issues, you couldn't help but applaud, ending childhood cancer, ending HIV, the D-Day — Normandy — the D-Day landing, freeing the — ending the Holocaust. These were lines that had to be applauded.

NB Daily State of the Union Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe ABC Mary Bruce George Stephanopoulos Donald Trump Stacey Abrams Chris Christie Nancy Pelosi
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