NBC Touts Beto’s ‘Eye-Popping’ Fundraising, Ignores Gaffes

On Monday, while both CBS This Morning and ABC’s Good Morning America managed to at least mention Beto O’Rourke receiving greater “scrutiny” and making “gaffes” over the weekend, NBC’s Today show skipped the Democratic presidential candidate’s unflattering stumbles in favor of gushing over his “eye-popping” fundraising numbers.

“And this morning, we are getting our first look into just how much money the newest candidate in this race has raised,” correspondent Hallie Jackson excitedly announced on Today. She further gushed: “Beto O’Rourke announced just moments ago that he has brought in $6.1 million in that first 24 hours since announcing his race. That’s the most of any candidate in that time period yet.”

 

 

The only negative coverage of O’Rourke during the report came when Jackson lamented that the former Texas Congressman was “Forced to respond to an attack by the GOP” after the RNC “tweeted out this picture from a 1998 arrest for drunk driving.” A soundbite followed of O’Rourke scolding Republicans for daring to remind voters of the criminal incident: “The people want us focused on the big picture, on our goals. They want us to be defined not by this pettiness or the personal attacks that we see in ones like the ad that you just described.”

Following the taped portion of the segment, co-host Savannah Guthrie wondered: “Hallie, you mentioned those eye-popping numbers that Beto O’Rourke just announced, how does it stack up against other candidates?” Jackson replied:

And again, we’re talking about those first 24 hours since these candidates announced. You have O’Rourke sitting at $6.1 million raised. But Bernie Sanders is close behind, he raised about 5.9 million, so nearly six. And then behind both of them, Senator Kamala Harris at 1.5 million in that first day. But keep in mind, O’Rourke’s campaign did not release certain specifics, like the average donation or the number of new donors. Information that other campaigns have released. And sometimes, guys, those details can be really telling.

Guthrie concluded: “Alright, money obviously is the currency in politics sometimes, so it’s an interesting metric.” Money is also literally the currency in everything else.

Good Morning America also hyped O’Rourke’s fundraising ability, but first, co-host George Stephanopoulos noted: “Beto O’Rourke had a mixed opening weekend. Had to apologize a few times for gaffes on the campaign trail.” Correspondent Mary Bruce explained: “Now, he has had some stumbles, as you mentioned. He apologized over the weekend for what he said was a ham-handed comment about his wife having to raise their three children.”

Despite those brief mentions, Bruce tried to keep the focus on the candidate’s “popularity” and donations to his campaign:

Beto O’Rourke’s campaign just announcing that he raised a whopping $6.1 million in grassroots fundraising in just the first 24 hours. George, that is more than any other candidate has raised so far. And it’s a clear sign that that popularity and Beto’s prolific fundraising that he showed during his Senate campaign is translating to the national stage....he continues to draw a lot of interest, as we’re seeing, from his packed events as he barnstorms some of these key states.

While reporting on O’Rourke’s campaign for CBS This Morning, correspondent Ed O’Keefe mainly highlighted the “scrutiny” the 2020 Democrat was facing:

Newcomer Beto O’Rourke went from a big start to closer scrutiny. National Republicans tweeted this image on St. Patrick’s day using O’rourke’s formal name and reminding voters of his drunk driving arrest in Texas over 20 years ago....And O’Rourke’s fellow Democrats took aim at comments he made in a magazine profile.

Noting O’Rourke telling Vanity Fair that he was “born to do this,” O’Keefe pointed out that “Senator Amy Klobuchar seemed to mock the idea.” A clip ran of Klobuchar telling Chuck Todd on Meet the Press: “I wasn’t born to run for office, just because growing up in the 70s in the middle of the country, I don’t think many people thought a girl could be president.”

Only at the end of the segment did O’Keefe bring up the fundraising: “Now, O’Rourke’s team says he raised a record-breaking $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign.”

Amazingly, none of the network morning shows discussed the Friday report from Reuters about O’Rourke once being a member of a computer hacking group. Writing on the group’s website under a pseudonym as a teenager, O’Rourke authored a particularly disturbing fictional account in which he imagined intentionally running over children with his car.

After cheering O’Rourke’s entrance into the race on Thursday, NBC worked to gloss over bad headlines for the Democrat on Monday. CBS and ABC at least acknowledged some of O’Rourke’s problems, but certainly not all.   

Here is a full transcript of the March 18 report on the Today show:

7:13 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, it was a busy weekend for the growing crowd of 2020 hopefuls. And while Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand made things official, a potential candidate who hasn’t announced yet raised some eyebrows with a slip of the tongue. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson with that part of the story. Hallie, good morning.  

HALLIE JACKSON: Hey, Savannah, good morning to you. And this morning, we are getting our first look into just how much money the newest candidate in this race has raised. Beto O’Rourke announced just moments ago that he has brought in $6.1 million in that first 24 hours since announcing his race. That’s the most of any candidate in that time period yet. But keep in mind, this Democratic field is not set, with one big name still deciding whether to jump in. Making, in a speech, a slip-up that seemed like a big tell.         

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Biden, Beto and the Nomination Battle; O’Rourke Raises Record Cash as Former VP Makes “Running” Slip]

The 2020 attention this morning on an accidental almost announcement.

JOE BIDEN: I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the – of anybody who would run. [Cheers and applause]

JACKSON: Joe Biden, in front of a very friendly crowd, quickly catching a slip of the tongue, since he’s not technically in the race yet.

BIDEN: I didn’t mean – [Cheers and applause]  

JACKSON: The former Vice President expected to decide within days whether he’ll make it official, as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand finally did herself, after weeks of an exploratory bid.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [GILLIBRAND CAMPAIGN AD]: We need a leader who makes big, bold, brave choices. Someone who isn’t afraid of progress.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND [D-NY]: That’s why I’m running for president.

JACKSON: The Senator hinting at a rally next week outside the Trump hotel in New York, a signal of how aggressively she plans to confront the President. With 595 days to go, candidates are crisscrossing the campaign trail already, including Beto O’Rourke.

BETO O’ROURKE: I get a chance to be part of something that the country badly needs and that is coming together at this very divided moment.

JACKSON: Forced to respond to an attack by the GOP, who tweeted out this picture from a 1998 arrest for drunk driving.

O’ROURKE: The people want us focused on the big picture, on our goals. They want us to be defined not by this pettiness or the personal attacks that we see in ones like the ad that you just described.

JACKSON: And after O’Rourke memorably told Vanity Fair he was born for this race, his competitors were pressed on their perspectives.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR [D-MN]: Growing up in the ’70s in the middle of the country, I don’t think many people thought a girl could be president. I wasn’t born to run, but I am running.

JACKSON: Senator Amy Klobuchar is one of five women in a primary where many Democrats are eager for diversity. Now some of the men in the race, like O’Rourke and Senator Cory Booker, are already suggesting if they get the nomination, they’ll pick a female vice president.

SEN. CORY BOOKER [D-NY]: I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or the president’s position, but if I have my way, there will be a woman on the ticket.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Hallie, you mentioned those eye-popping numbers that Beto O’Rourke just announced, how does it stack up against other candidates? Kind of put it in perspective.  

JACKSON: Sure. And again, we’re talking about those first 24 hours since these candidates announced. You have O’Rourke sitting at $6.1 million raised. But Bernie Sanders is close behind, he raised about 5.9 million, so nearly six. And then behind both of them, Senator Kamala Harris at 1.5 million in that first day. But keep in mind, O’Rourke’s campaign did not release certain specifics, like the average donation or the number of new donors. Information that other campaigns have released. And sometimes, guys, those details can be really telling. Savannah?

GUTHRIE: Alright, money obviously is the currency in politics sometimes, so it’s an interesting metric. Thank you, Hallie, appreciate it.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Bias by Omission Heritage Foundation ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Hallie Jackson Beto O'Rourke

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