Media Let Dems Off the Hook: ‘No Incentive’ to Compromise

Since the government shutdown began in late December, the media have made sure to repeatedly lay the blame solely on President Trump and Republicans in Congress. Not only did the press refuse to place any responsibility for the budget impasse on congressional Democrats, but reporters actually touted the notion that liberal lawmakers had “no incentive” to compromise.

The phrase has become a common refrain over the past 19 days of news coverage, since the partial government shutdown began over the issue of funding a border wall along the U.S. southern border. On December 26, just a few days into the shutdown, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked congressional correspondent Garrett Haake: “What incentive do Democrats have to give an inch on this? Do you hear any Democrats saying they should compromise anymore?”

 

 

Haake confidently told the Morning Joe host: “No, none at all on this. There’s nothing to compromise for....there’s no give-and-take here, this is essentially the President trying to have his way at the 11th hour without – without offering anything. It’s not a deal, it’s a standoff.” The reporter added that “the only pressure that I hear Democrats getting is from the left saying, ‘Don’t compromise on this. Do not build this wall.’”

Later that afternoon, appearing on MTP Daily, Haake similarly told fill-in anchor Katy Tur: “Democrats don’t have any positive incentive to make a deal with Donald Trump on this....To the degree that Democrats are getting pressured, it’s from their left, from progressives, saying, ‘Don’t make this deal, we don’t want this medieval wall.’”

On MSNBC’s Hardball the following evening, December 27, left-wing Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson proclaimed: “There isn’t a lot of incentive for Democrats to start putting offers on the table, particularly since, as we’ve seen, you can get a deal signed, sealed and delivered, except when it comes to it, Donald Trump won’t sign it.”

Just to make sure viewers knew where he stood on the topic, Robinson added: “Plus, the wall is really a stupid idea....It’s really a dumb idea...”

MSNBC certainly wasn’t alone in providing political cover for Democrats. Appearing on CNN’s New Day on January 2, The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins argued:

I also think the Democratic leaders, both in the Senate and in the House, don’t have a lot of incentive to show President Trump that they can be easily pushed around by him, right?...Pelosi and Schumer want – aren’t going to be quick to give in to President Trump’s demands to fund a border wall. I mean, this is going to be – there are gonna be a lot of fights over the next two years and they’re going to want to show that they can’t be easily, you know, bullied into doing whatever President Trump wants.

On her MSNBC show the next morning, January 3, anchor Hallie Jackson gleefully touted President Trump’s “new reality” as Democrats prepared to take control of the House of Representatives later that day: “...the shadow of more legal battles, more congressional supervision, and an unfriendly chamber of Congress that has virtually no incentive to give him a single political win right now.”

On the January 4 Today show, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd announced: “Democrats don’t appear to have any political incentive to somehow compromise with the President. And right now, it’s Republicans that are breaking ranks with the party.” He went on to claim that the President’s “ego is too much in the way” of ending the shutdown.

“And it does seem like Democrats have said basically, like, ‘On this one we’re actually not going to budge at all,’ because there’s no political incentive for them to do so,” observed New York Magazine’s Gabriel Debenedetti on January 5, during an appearance on CBS This Morning: Saturday. He further predicted that “there will be more and more pressure on the President....we think most of the political pressure will be on his end.”

During NBC’s live special coverage of Trump’s prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday, correspondent Kasie Hunt warned: “There’s really no end in sight to it. The President clearly digging in. Democrats have no incentive to give him what he wants.”

Talking to anchor Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday’s Situation Room, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin cheered:

Well, I think Donald Trump has not figured out that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t work for him. And, in fact, every political incentive she has is to keep fighting him. She’s getting no pressure at all from the people who matter to her, her constituents, the Democrats in the House, to back down here. She holds the key. And unless he’s gonna bend, this thing is not gonna get wrapped up. I mean, she is in control of the House of Representatives and she’s not backing down. And he doesn’t seem to understand that.

Blitzer chimed in: “She’s not backing down at all.”

Finally, on Thursday’s Today show, NBC’s Hunt repeated her analysis from Tuesday night: “The Democrats, they have no incentive to say, ‘Okay, Mr. President, we’ll give you what you want.’ Our polling shows that the American people are with them, they don’t think that the government should be shut down for this border wall.”

She concluded: “And really, at the end of the day, this is still in the President’s court, he has really backed himself into the corner here.”

Of course Democrats have “no incentive” to reach a compromise with the President when the media refuse to hold both sides accountable for the budget standoff. As long as reporters give them cover, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will feel little pressure to make a deal.

In fact, some in the news media have implored Democrats to the opposite. On New Year’s Eve, MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell asserted: “The Democrats’ number one job in the House of Representatives is to stop every single thing that Donald Trump wants.”

As Media Research Center Research Director Rich Noyes reported recently on NewsBusters, it was quite a different story when Republicans took control of the House in 1994 and 2010. At both times, the press warned the GOP not to “govern only from the right” and have “an incentive to compromise.”

Here are excerpts of the media shutdown coverage from December 26 through January 10:

Morning Joe
12/26/18
6:25 AM

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Garrett, quickly, what incentive do Democrats have to give an inch on this? Do you hear any Democrats saying they should compromise anymore?

GARRETT HAAKE: No, none at all on this. There’s nothing to compromise for. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago we were talking about $25 billion in exchange for a deal on DACA and reforming the legal immigration system and that hasn’t even been broached in this conversation. So no, there’s no give-and-take here, this is essentially the President trying to have his way at the 11th hour without – without offering anything. It’s not a deal, it’s a standoff.

And Democrats feel like, “Okay, that’s fine, we can wait til the start of January and put the ball, you know, more squarely into Mitch McConnell and the President’s court. But the only pressure that I hear Democrats getting is from the left saying, “Don’t compromise on this. Do not build this wall.”


MTP Daily
12/26/18
5:13 PM

GARRETT HAAKE: Democrats don’t have any positive incentive to make a deal with Donald Trump on this. This isn’t a deal, there’s not a negotiation in which Democrats would get a political priority of theirs, like protections for the DREAMers, for example. It’s merely the baseline of keeping the government open. That’s not a Democratic priority, that should be a priority of the whole of government. To the degree that Democrats are getting pressured, it’s from their left, from progressives, saying, “Don’t make this deal, we don’t want this medieval wall.”

    
Hardball
12/27/18
7:04 PM

EUGENE ROBINSON [WASHINGTON POST]: There isn’t a lot of incentives for Democrats to start putting offers on the table, particularly since, as we’ve seen, you can get a deal signed, sealed and delivered, except when it comes to it, Donald Trump won’t sign it. And so, why should they put something out and then have the rug pulled out from under them? And that’s gonna be the question for Democrats. Plus, the wall is really a stupid idea, and you just have to, let’s deal with reality for a second. It’s really a dumb idea, and that ought to count, too.


New Day
01/02/19
8:11 AM

MCKAY COPPINS [THE ATLANTIC]: So, you know, I think there’s more dysfunction to come. But I also think the Democratic leaders, both in the Senate and in the House, don’t have a lot of incentive to show President Trump that they can be easily pushed around by him, right?...Pelosi and Schumer want – aren’t going to be quick to give in to President Trump’s demands to fund a border wall. I mean, this is going to be – there are gonna be a lot of fights over the next two years and they’re going to want to show that they can’t be easily, you know, bullied into doing whatever President Trump wants.


MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson
01/03/19
10:00 AM

HALLIE JACKSON: At the White House, the President warned that Democrats are not ruling out impeachment. And this is his new reality now – the shadow of more legal battles, more congressional supervision, and an unfriendly chamber of Congress that has virtually no incentive to give him a single political win right now.


Today
01/04/19
7:07 AM

CHUCK TODD: But in the short term, I don’t see how this ends. Democrats don’t appear to have any political incentive to somehow compromise with the President. And right now, it’s Republicans that are breaking ranks with the party.


CBS This Morning: Saturday
01/05/19
8:08 AM

GABRIEL DEBENEDETTI [NEW YORK MAGAZINE NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT]: And it does seem like Democrats have said basically, like, “On this one we’re actually not going to budge at all,” because there’s no political incentive for them to do so. But there will be more and more pressure on the President. Particularly as more and more things get shut down in the government itself. So we’ll see, but we think most of the political pressure will be on his end.


NBC News Special Report
01/08/19
9:20 PM

KASIE HUNT: There’s really no end in sight to it. The President clearly digging in. Democrats have no incentive to give him what he wants. The government has been funded several times since this President has been in office without this wall. He has decided that this is going to be his last stand.
    

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer
01/09/19
6:40 PM

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, I think Donald Trump has not figured out that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t work for him. And, in fact, every political incentive she has is to keep fighting him. She’s getting no pressure at all from the people who matter to her, her constituents, the Democrats in the House, to back down here. She holds the key. And unless he’s gonna bend, this thing is not gonna get wrapped up. I mean, she is in control of the House of Representatives and she’s not backing down. And he doesn’t seem to understand that.

WOLF BLITZER: She’s not backing down at all.


Today
01/10/19
7:05 AM

KASIE HUNT: The incentives for both sides are simply to dig in. The Democrats, they have no incentive to say, “Okay, Mr. President, we’ll give you what you want.” Our polling shows that the American people are with them, they don’t think that the government should be shut down for this border wall....at this point, it’s not clear the Democrats are gonna want to play ball on that. And really, at the end of the day, this is still in the President’s court, he has really backed himself into the corner here.  

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