Reacting Wednesday to President Biden’s State of the Union address from the night prior, the broadcast network mornings newscasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC largely decided to play White House stenographers in touting Biden’s “call[s] for unity” and focus “on common ground and not...partisanship.” It resulted, one network said, in cheers that were akin to American unity after 9/11.
CBS Mornings co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King opened by boasting that Biden “call[ed] for big investments to help fight inflation and respond[ed] forcefully to Russia's invasion of Ukraine” during a maskless gathering that was “jarring” to her because so many “interact[ed] without masks.”
King also trumpeted a CBS News poll showing “78 percent of Americans who watched the speech approved of it” even though, in a hilarious addendum, “close to half of those polled are Democrats.”
White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe described Biden’s remarks as “a 62-minute speech during which the President mostly tried to dwell on common ground and not on the partisanship that's divided this capital city and from the beginning, he focused on an issue that's quickly become a top-of-mind concern: the crisis in Ukraine and holding Vladimir Putin accountable.”
He continued, touting Biden’s plans to address inflation and immigration without pushback while lamenting heckling from two House Republicans “punctured” Biden’s “attempts at bipartisanship” (click “expand”):
Mr. Biden appeared without a mask and got personal with colleagues.
According to a CBS News poll of speech watchers, 64 percent said the President's policies would lower inflation. One way to cut costs, he said, would be to revitalize American manufacturing.
He pushed a pathway to citizenship for dreamers and distanced himself from liberal Democrats on criminal justice reform.
He also called for passage of a unity agenda focused on four issues with broad bipartisan support: Beating the opioid epidemic, tackling mental health, supporting veterans, and ending cancer. But his attempts at bipartisanship were punctured by two Republican lawmakers, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
They shouted “build the wall” when he mentioned immigration, and Boebert interrupted again when he was speaking of his son's death, blaming the President for service members killed in Afghanistan during last year's chaotic withdrawal.
That drew boos from across the chamber, and the two congresswomen were criticized overnight by members of both parties.
ABC’s Good Morning America was similarly on Team Biden. Chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega said that while “Biden delivered this speech...to a divided nation,” his pleas for “the world to save democracy in the face of...Putin” drew “something he has rarely seen since taking office: unity on both sides of the aisle.”
Following the same pattern of ping-ponging between summarizing White House talking points and Biden soundbites, Vega joined her colleagues in refusing to acknowledge the Biden administration’s energy policies opposing expanded domestic oil and gas production.
And on the economy, Vega passed along Biden’s insistence that “fighting rising prices” was “his top priority” and would do so with “lowering the cost of prescription drugs and childcare.”
After stating Biden won “some Republican cheers with his message on fighting crime” and pointing to Boebert’s heckling, Vega enthused: “But in these divided times, it was his praise for the strength of the American people that brought this chamber to its feet.”
To her credit, she was the only network correspondent to mention Biden’s poll numbers, saying his “37 percent approval rating” in the ABC/Washington Post poll means he’s searching for any momentum.
Vega returned in the 8:00 a.m. Eastern hour, rehashing excerpts of her first segment.
And on NBC’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie said Biden was “[t]alking tough” on Russia as he aimed “to revive the administration's stalled domestic agenda.”
Chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander opened as his counterparts did on Russia before moving to domestic affairs, reporting that Biden “acknowledg[ed] too many people are still feeling the pain of rising prices.”
As Vega was the only one to mention his poll numbers, Alexander was the only one of the three to mention the Republican response, saying Biden’s speech was “immediately panned by Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds.”
But, as he did in both the 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Eastern hours, he declined to place any blame on Biden for inflation.
During the 3rd Hour of Today, he returned but with more syrupy language, including the claim that Biden’s applause lines on Ukraine was the first time such unity occurred at a State of the Union since after 9/11.
And on his failed legislative agenda, Alexander lamented Biden’s plans to improve the economy “have run into a brick wall” (click “expand”):
[W]e also saw some of the most bipartisan applause that we've seen since perhaps the months and years that followed 9/11. Republicans and Democrats united in their condemnation of Vladimir Putin. And really their support for the heroism that the President hailed by the people of Ukraine, including its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But, as you said, the President was — he did slam Vladimir Putin saying this is effectively his war.
It kind of was...a tale of speeches, right? First, the state of Ukraine and then the more traditional state of the union. In inflation, the President said is his top priority. Gas prices, everybody sees them right now, certainly in...California. They’re paying now a record high price for gas right now. The President said — he laid out some proposals, some ideas to help try to bring down costs for Americans, to try to help with those rising prices right now, but a lot of these policies have run into challenges on Capitol Hill. They have run into a brick wall there in effect right now.
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