As 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney released an op-ed attacking President Trump in the Washington Post January 1, the networks couldn’t help but rave over the Republican infighting and Romney’s potential 2020 run. Revealing their hypocrisy, ABC and NBC had plenty of time to praise the incoming Utah senator, when they held contempt for him before he became a critic of the president.
ABC’s Good Morning America was the most effusive of the three networks in its reporting. Anchor George Stephanopoulos gushed about the “stunning” “broadside” from Romney to correspondents Mary Bruce and Terry Moran:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, this op-ed in The Washington Post, he says ‘the president has not risen to the mantle of the office, says he will speak out against significant statements and actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant.' What a shot!
TERRY MORAN: It is a scathing--- I can't think of anything like it from an incoming freshman senator!
After reading excerpts, Moran went on to tout Romney as the new leader of the anti-Trump Republicans, who were too timid to speak out previously, but now had his example to follow:
[H]e is also essentially declaring that he for other Republicans will be the cover. He'll have their back for those who privately, many have said the same thing but haven't uttered a word of criticism to the president. Mitt Romney says ‘follow me.’
Stephanopoulos noted hopefully that Romney could be “laying the groundwork" to "challenge Trump in 2020." In the next hour’s report, he again exclaimed Romney was “lashing out” against the president while correspondent Mary Bruce called the op-ed a “remarkable shot across the bow” from Romney, as if he wasn’t already a vocal critic of Trump.
NBC’s Today show was also enthusiastic about the Republican infighting. White House correspondent Hallie Jackson gushed over the “blistering new op-ed taking on the president's character,” adding that it was “a sign Romney might be an outspoken thorn in the president’s side over the next couple of years.”
CBS This Morning gave a brief and balanced report on the topic in their first hour, including the reply to Romney from President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager.