Nets Hail: ‘Impeachment Took Center Stage’ at Dem Debate

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On Thursday, it was as if all three network morning shows were reading from the same liberal script as journalists on NBC, ABC, and CBS all touted how “impeachment took center stage” during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. In addition, all three networks eagerly seized on the Democratic contenders labeling President Trump a “criminal.”

“Those impeachment hearings that they were just talking about served as a backdrop for last night’s fifth Democratic debate down in Atlanta,” proclaimed co-host Craig Melvin on NBC’s Today show. Chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson declared that the MSNBC debate “was largely substantive and mostly civil,” and that “the person attacked the most wasn’t even on stage, Donald Trump.”

 

 

After a soundbite ran of California Senator Kamala Harris claiming “we have a criminal living in the White House,” Jackson followed up: “Impeachment immediately taking center stage at the fifth Democratic Debate.”

While no challenge or fact check was provided to Harris’s accusation, Jackson did note: “Senator Bernie Sanders arguing Democrats' messaging must include more than attacks on the President.” Sanders warned: “We cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump. Because if we are, you know what? We’re gonna lose the election.”

Minutes later, Jackson wrapped up the segment by pointing out another political downside to impeachment: “But given that so much of the political oxygen right now is being sucked up here in Washington by those impeachment proceedings, it may be hard for some of these Democratic candidates to try and break through.”

“The impeachment showdown took center stage at last night’s Democratic debate,” co-host Michael Strahan identically echoed on ABC’s Good Morning America. Correspondent Linsey Davis highlighted Democrats showing a “united front” against Trump, “agreeing on key issues and saving their fire for the President instead of each other.”

Like NBC, ABC was particularly impressed by Harris ranting, “We have a criminal living in the White House.” Davis reiterated: “All ten contenders united on the impeachment inquiry.”

Unlike the Today show, GMA did not mention Sanders warning against too much focus on impeachment or mention any political peril for the 2020 field supporting the President’s removal from office.

Sticking to the media narrative of the day, CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil told viewers: “And the impeachment inquiry took center stage during a sometimes contentious presidential debate in Atlanta.”

After the obligatory clip ran of Harris announcing “We have a criminal living in the White House,” correspondent Ed O’Keefe gushed: “The candidates were all in agreement over the House impeachment inquiry.” However, like his NBC colleague, he also noted that “Senator Bernie Sanders said it shouldn’t consume the party.”

During a later panel discussion analyzing the debate in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, fill-in co-host Jericka Duncan wondered: “How do the candidates do a good job of balancing not being too focused on the impeachment hearings but also talking to voters about the issues and things that affect them?” Both Democratic strategist Robby Mook and Republican strategist Terry Sullivan agreed that the 2020 Democratic contenders should not focus on the issue.

In addition to the networks all using the same talking points to promote the latest Democratic debate, not one of the journalists batted an eye at the fact that a United States Senator, who is supposed to act as a juror in any potential impeachment trial, declared that the President was a “criminal.”

The coverage was remarkably similar to how the network morning shows reacted to October’s debate, when all three broadcasts applauded Democrats showing a “united front” in favor of impeachment.

Here is a transcript of the November 21 coverage on NBC’s Today show:

7:12 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: Those impeachment hearings that they were just talking about served as a backdrop for last night’s fifth Democratic debate down in Atlanta. Ten of the top candidates squaring off in Georgia. They clashed over the President and a wide range of other issues. NBC’s chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson has more on what they all had to say. Hallie, Good morning.

HALLIE JACKSON: Craig, good morning to you. This is a debate that was largely substantive and mostly civil. In fact, the person attacked the most wasn’t even on stage, Donald Trump.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS [D-CA]: First of all, we have a criminal living in the White House.

JACKSON: Impeachment immediately taking center stage at the fifth Democratic Debate.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN [D-MA]: We have to establish the principle no one is above the law. We have a constitutional responsibility and we need to meet it.

JOE BIDEN: I learned something about these impeachment trials. I learned number one, that Donald Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee.

JACKSON: But Senator Bernie Sanders arguing Democrats messaging must include more than attacks on the President.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: We cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump. Because if we are, you know what? We’re gonna lose the election.

(...)

7:15 AM ET

JACKSON: Keep in mind, though, overall, for all of these Democrats, yes, we are just, what, two and a half months out from the Iowa caucus, right? But given that so much of the political oxygen right now is being sucked up here in Washington by those impeachment proceedings, it may be hard for some of these Democratic candidates to try and break through.

(...)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on ABC’s GMA:

7:11 AM ET

MICHAEL STRAHAN: The impeachment showdown took center stage at last night’s Democratic debate. Ten candidates facing off on a wide range of issues, from health care to foreign policy, and their experience. Linsey Davis is in Atlanta with the big moments. Good morning, Linsey.

LINSEY DAVIS: Hey, good morning to you, Michael. The debate took center stage right here behind me. But this was a different one. In the past, when Joe Biden, for example, emerged as the frontrunner, the candidates pounced. When Elizabeth Warren emerged as a frontrunner, the candidates pounced. But last night, as Pete Buttigieg took to the stage with a lead, for the most part, the candidates presented a more united front.

The top Democratic candidates coming together in Atlanta, agreeing on key issues and saving their fire for the President instead of each other.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: We have a criminal living in the White House.

DAVIS: All ten contenders united on the impeachment inquiry.

SEN, AMY KLOBUCHAR [D-MN]: This is a president that not only with regard to his conduct with Ukraine, but every step of the way, puts his own private interests, his own partisan interests, his own political interests in front of our country’s interests.

(...)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on CBS This Morning:

7:12 AM ET

TONY DOKOUPIL: And the impeachment inquiry took center stage during a sometimes contentious presidential debate in Atlanta. Ten Democrats stood side by side for debate number five last night. Candidates sparred over issues like paid family leave, abortion rights, and voter suppression. Our Ed O’Keefe is in Atlanta. Ed, good morning. So what were your big takeaways from last night?

ED O’KEEFE: Well, Tony, they also discussed things like health care, climate change, and foreign policy, but it all began with an issue that the candidates rarely discuss on the campaign trail – that impeachment saga back in Washington.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS [D-CA]: We have a criminal living in the White House.

O’KEEFE: The candidates were all in agreement over the House impeachment inquiry.

JOE BIDEN: I learned something about these impeachment trials. I learned, number one, that Donald Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee.

O’KEEFE: But Senator Bernie Sanders said it shouldn’t consume the party.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: We can deal with Trump’s corruption, but we also have to stand up for the working families of this country.

(...)

8:08 AM ET

JERICKA DUNCAN: How do the candidates do a good job of balancing not being too focused on the impeachment hearings but also talking to voters about the issues and things that affect them?

TERRY SULLIVAN: Go ahead.

ROBBY MOOK: I was going to say, you heard that on the stage last night. You had some candidates actually pushing back and saying, “Let’s not talk about this.” You know, and I think that’s right. Impeachment is out there, people don’t need to hear more about it. They all agree. They all agree that what Trump did was wrong and criminal. I think they’re right to focus on issues.

ANTHONY MASON: What do you think?

SULLIVAN: Yeah. I mean, look, it’s not – and it’s not just that it’s not gonna help them in the Democratic primary, but it’s also not going to help them in a general election with swing voters who are undecided on it. And if the things they need to say about impeachment in a – to win a Democrat primary will turn off general election swing voters who aren’t fully decided on it.

(...)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Debates Trump Impeachment Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Hallie Jackson Ed O'Keefe Linsey Davis Donald Trump Kamala Harris

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