It was a tale of two very different stories Monday morning, as both NBC’s Today show and CBS This Morning reported on 2020 Democratic candidates speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. While NBC celebrated potential contender Beto O’Rourke as a “home-state heavyweight” and hailed left-wing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as one of the “brightest stars” at the liberal event, CBS actually pressed Democrats on the issue of socialism.
“Thirteen contenders in or considering getting in the race for the White House descending on Austin for the South by Southwest festival, originally meant to highlight musicians. Now, packed with politicians,” declared correspondent Hallie Jackson on the Today show. She eagerly added: “That includes home-state heavyweight Democrat Beto O’Rourke, debuting a documentary about his failed Senate run last year.”
After noting Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar also making an appearance at the event, Jackson reserved some of the biggest hype for a Democrat not running for president, Ocasio-Cortez: “One of the Lone Star’s brightest stars over the weekend.” The reporter seemed to lament that the “freshman firebrand” was “too young to run even if she wanted to,” but touted that the New York lawmaker was still “drawing big crowds.”
Promoting other far-left Democrats, Jackson noted Senator Elizabeth Warren “pushing her new plan to try to break up big tech companies like Facebook and Google if she wins” and Senator Bernie Sanders recruiting “more than a million volunteers” while being “at double digits in a new Iowa poll.”
As liberal 2020 candidates were treated to free uncritical air time on NBC, on CBS This Morning, correspondent Ed O’Keefe could be seen actually challenging the same politicians on where they stood on socialism. “Sanders, campaigning for president a second time, is once again forcing a conversation among Democrats about socialism,” the reporter highlighted.
The headline on screen informed viewers: “Where the Democrats Fall; Presidential Hopefuls Face Questions on Capitalist vs. Socialist Labels.”
“So in these questions of capitalist versus socialist, we put you down on as capitalist?,” O’Keefe asked Klobuchar. The senator replied: “Put me down as a capitalist.” Talking to Warren, O’Keefe observed: “You get labeled a socialist.” The Massachusetts lawmaker balked: “Well, it’s just wrong.”
A clip was even played of former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper trying to deflect the question on Sunday’s Face the Nation: “Let me just – I’m happy to say I’m a capitalist, but I think at a certain point the labels do nothing but divide us.”
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Hickenlooper struggled mightily with the topic, refusing to identify himself as a capitalist five separate times.
While NBC was content to provide glowing coverage to Democrats, CBS at least tried to put some of them on the record about how radical their party has become.
Here is a full transcript of the March 11 report on the Today show:
7:12 AM ET
HODA KOTB: Craig joins the table, sticking with politics this morning.
CRAIG MELVIN: We are. Hoda, Savannah, good morning. Good morning to you as well. We’re talking about the 2020 presidential race and there’s a telling new poll on potential Democratic candidates in Iowa. But it was a festival in Texas that drew some of the biggest names over the weekend. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson has that story for us. Hallie, good morning.
HALLIE JACKSON: Hey, Craig, good morning to you. You know, polls this early typically reflect name recognition, and that seems to be the case with those new numbers out of Iowa. But this year’s biggest 2020 battleground so far was not in Iowa, not even in New Hampshire. Instead, you had to look farther south.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Dems Descend on Texas; Beto, AOC Draw Big Crowds as Biden, Bernie Top Poll]
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR [D-MN]: It is great to be in Austin.
JACKSON: Thirteen contenders in or considering getting in the race for the White House descending on Austin for the South by Southwest festival, originally meant to highlight musicians. Now, packed with politicians. That includes home-state heavyweight Democrat Beto O’Rourke, debuting a documentary about his failed Senate run last year. O’Rourke’s hinting he’ll run in 2020, but still won’t say for sure, unlike Senator Amy Klobuchar, who already announced her bid for the Democratic nomination, suggesting one strategy for how to beat President Trump.
KLOBUCHAR: You pick your battles with him, right? You don’t go after every single tweet he does.
JACKSON: One of the Lone Star’s brightest stars over the weekend.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ [D-NY]: Moderate is not a stance, it’s just an attitude towards life of like, “Meh.”
JACKSON: Freshman firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, too young to run even if she wanted to, drawing big crowds. Senator Elizabeth Warren also in the spotlight, pushing her new plan to try to break up big tech companies like Facebook and Google if she wins.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN [D-MA]: The monopolist will make fewer monopoly profits, boo-hoo.
JACKSON: Warren staying silent about a meeting with one opponent.
WARREN: So Bernie and I had a private dinner. My view is that dinner stays private.
JACKSON: But Senator Bernie Sanders had plenty to say about his own campaign, rallying supporters up in New Hampshire.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: We have signed up over 1.1 million people.
JACKSON: More than a million volunteers, he says, and that’s not the only big number for Sanders. He’s at double digits in a new Iowa poll ahead of everyone except former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the pack, even though he’s technically not part of it yet.
Sources close to Biden tell NBC News that he may decide, possibly as early as this week, whether he will officially get in the race. His advisers are preparing for a potential April launch if they get the green light. Keep in mind, Biden is set to hold his first overtly political event since the midterms later on this week. Meaning bottom line, even if he’s not ready to say whether he’s running, he is getting ready to make his case to the country about why he would be the best choice if he does. Craig, Savannah, Hoda?
MELVIN: And a reminder, we are about 600 days away from the 2020 presidential election. Hallie Jackson. Hallie, thank you.
Here is a full transcript of the March 11 report on CBS This Morning:
7:15 AM ET
NORAH O’DONNELL: Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the 2020 Democratic field in a key state, though he has yet to announce his run for president. A new very early poll shows 27% of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa picked Biden. He has a two-point lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Ed O’Keefe is in Austin, Texas, where some of the Democratic hopeful’s spoke out over the weekend. Ed, good morning.
ED O’KEEFE: Good morning, Norah. The former Vice President isn’t expected to get in for a few more weeks, and those poll numbers might actually encourage him to do so. But the other Democrats already in the race now trying to make sure that Biden doesn’t steal their thunder.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Preparing for Presidential Run?; Fmr. VP Biden Expected to Officially Announce Candidacy Next Month]
2020 contenders at South by Southwest in Austin tried to avoid bringing more attention to the possibility of former Vice President Biden getting into the fray.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR [D-MN]: Well, I have a lot of the respect for Vice President Biden. And first, we want to make sure he’s getting in. But I can only address my own merit.
O’KEEFE: Why are you better, more qualified, more worthy of support than the former Vice President?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN [D-MA]: I’m in this race because Washington works great for the wealthy and well connected. It’s just not working for anyone else.
O’KEEFE: Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned Sunday in new Hampshire.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: We are going to complete what we started here. [Cheers]
O’KEEFE: Sanders, campaigning for president a second time, is once again forcing a conversation among Democrats about socialism.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Where the Democrats Fall; Presidential Hopefuls Face Questions on Capitalist vs. Socialist Labels]
SANDERS: When we came here to New Hampshire four years ago, ideas that seemed so very radical at that time, well, today they are being support by Democratic candidates from school board to President of United States. [Cheers]
O’KEEFE: It’s a topic we asked Democratic primary candidates about.
[TO KLOBUCHAR] So in these questions of capitalist versus socialist, we put you down on as capitalist?
KLOBUCHAR: Put me down as a capitalist.
O’KEEFE: You get labeled a socialist.
WARREN: Well, it’s just wrong.
O’KEEFE: Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper addressed the question on Face the Nation.
FMR. GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, I’m comfortable – I’m –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Go ahead.
HICKENLOOPER: Let me just – I’m happy to say I’m a capitalist, but I think at a certain point the labels do nothing but divide us.
O’KEEFE: Here in Austin, more than a dozen presidential contenders made appearances over the weekend, but the eyes of the political world will be on Washington Tuesday morning. That’s when the former Vice President is set to address the International Association of Firefighters. It’s a labor union that says it would support his presidential bid and provide him on-the-ground support in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. Norah?
O’DONNELL: Alright, Ed, thank you. And rest that voice. Thank you.