After the media spent weeks hammering Republicans and the White House over the ongoing government shutdown – while claiming Democrats have “no incentive” to compromise – Politico reported on Wednesday that many freshman House Democrats were increasingly “concerned with the party’s strategy” and even “freaking out” over the possibility of a political backlash.
While both MSNBC and CNN questioned Democratic members of Congress about the piece on Thursday, the broadcast networks have so far ignored the story. “Now, as the shutdown drags into Day 19, the frustration is starting to reach a tipping point for some who fear the prolonged stalemate could do real political damage in vulnerable Democratic districts,” the article began.
The Politico story went on to note: “The freshmen [Democrats] arranged an impromptu 90-minute meeting over the weekend at a retreat in Virginia because several new members were ‘freaking out’ about the ongoing shutdown and the party’s strategy, according to a Democratic source who requested anonymity to speak candidly.”
Despite NBC, ABC, and CBS refusing to mention the report in shutdown coverage, on Thursday, MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin began an interview with freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick by citing the Politico item:
Politico reporting that some new – some new freshman Democrats are feeling the pressure that they may be blamed back at home and are concerned about the party’s game plan. At an impromptu meeting of new Democratic lawmakers over the weekend, quote, “Several new members were ‘freaking out’ about the ongoing shutdown and the party’s strategy”....Are you guys unified or are there some freshman Democrats who are starting, to use the words from the article, “freak out”?
Appearing on Morning Joe hours earlier, liberal pundit Donny Deutsch feared that President Trump was “winning” the shutdown fight and outmaneuvering Democrats.
On Thursday’s CNN Newsroom, co-host Poppy Harlow began an interview with Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell by quoting freshman Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger telling Politico: “If I’m getting comments and contact from my constituents expressing concern that Democrats are not prioritizing security, then I think we can do better.”
Harlow asked Mucarsel-Powell: “Is she right?” After the Florida lawmaker dodged the question and tried to place blame for the shutdown solely on Republicans, Harlow’s co-host Jim Sciutto pressed:
But the fact is, Democratic leadership is digging its heels in just as much as the President is. As Nancy Pelosi said, she won’t even give a dollar to the border, when in votes passed, Democrats have supported legislation that gave billions of dollars to the wall here. I wonder if you’re more than frustrated, if you’re worried that this damages a new Democratic majority that was voted in, in part, to get things done? It’s an ambitious agenda, but it’s not happening.
After Mucarsel-Powell denied having any such concerns, Harlow countered: “Why should the Republicans give anything if you don’t think the Democrats should give anything? I don’t understand that.”
That morning, Harlow’s CNN colleague Alisyn Camerota asked on New Day: “...aren’t Democrats to blame here as well?”
The Politico piece went on to explain:
But it’s not just freshmen who are questioning the strategy pursued by Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Some veteran Democrats are open to the idea of trying to broker a wide-ranging immigration deal that would include border wall money in exchange for Democratic priorities like securing protections for Dreamers....Moderate Democrats in the New Democrat Coalition pressed Pelosi later Wednesday to lay out a strategy for how to get out of the shutdown fight as well as her plans for House Democrats in the coming months.
As eager as the broadcast networks have been to highlight divisions among Republicans over the shutdown fight, when evidence was presented of cracks in the Democratic coalition, NBC, ABC, and CBS were not interested.