NBC Actually Calls Out Dems for Playing Politics With Virus Relief

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On Monday, NBC’s Today show was surprisingly direct in blaming Democrats for the failure of a massive coronavirus relief package in Congress. The network morning show repeatedly made it clear that the “aid package was blocked by Senate Democrats” and even wondered if “this the time to have these kinds of arguments,” while Americans are “desperate” for help.

“Overnight, Senate Democrats block the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, saying it has a slush fund for big business. Republicans warning their rivals are playing with fire as the economy tanks,” co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed at the top of the broadcast. Minutes later, she reiterated: “As mentioned, overnight, the new $2 trillion coronavirus aid package was blocked by Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill...”

 

 

Correspondent Tom Costello informed viewers: “On Capitol Hill this morning, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed House Democrats after a procedural vote on the Senate measure failed Sunday evening.” A soundbite followed of McConnell admonishing: “The Speaker of the House shows up and we’re back to square one.”

The reporter then noted: “Nancy Pelosi firing back, Democrats want more money and better protections for affected workers and their families.”

Costello also emphasized that all the political maneuvering was coming at a time when Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul had been diagnosed with COVID-19:

But McConnell faces another major hurdle, with Rand Paul becoming the first U.S. senator to test positive for the virus and several other Republican senators now in self-quarantine. All this adding to the debate over whether members of congress, many of whom are in the high-risk category for coronavirus, should be allowed to vote remotely, which is currently not allowed.

In the 7:30 a.m. half hour, Guthrie actually pressed Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on whether fellow members of his party in Washington were wrong:

Governor, last night, I believe it was yesterday, the Democrats in Congress blocked this latest almost $2 trillion aid package on the basis that, according to Democrats, it had a “slush fund” – what they call it, a pejorative term – too much money to corporations, not enough to regular folks. My question to you though is, people are desperate, they need this money, they need this help. Is this the time to have these kinds of arguments or should it be fast-tracked essentially?

After Pritzker attempted to defend the political games, Guthrie kept up the pressure: “Well, how long do you want Democrats to hold this line?...how long, though, do you want your colleagues in the Senate to hold this line, you know, and make this point?”

The flustered Governor replied: “Well, I mean, how long? Look, they should resolve this today, there’s no doubt about it.”

Unlike NBC, CBS and ABC worked to downplay the failure of the legislation and claim “both sides” were responsible. “On Capitol Hill, senators are back to negotiating this morning after they failed to agree on a nearly $2 trillion relief bill,” co-host Anthony Mason vaguely told viewers. In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes seemed to justify Democratic obstruction:

Republicans say they have already made big concessions. They’ve already agreed to what some are calling unemployment insurance on steroids where the government would pay laid-off workers their previous salary for up to four months. But Democrats were upset about what they called a new slush fund in this bill, $500 billion to help major companies. That money would be sent out at the discretion of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin with limited oversight.

“No deal. That massive trillion-dollar-plus relief bill stalled amidst a partisan divide in Congress over which individuals and businesses should get aid, under what conditions,” co-host George Stephanopoulos declared at the top of ABC’s Good Morning America. Minutes later, correspondent Mary Bruce announced: “After negotiating late into the night, Democrats and Republicans are still not on the same page, but I’m told they are hopeful they can come to an agreement today.”

Like Cordes, she was quick to parrot spin from liberal lawmakers:

Now, Republicans are accusing Democrats of being irresponsible by delaying, while Democrats say Republicans are putting corporations ahead of Americans. They say that parts of this amount to a slush fund for corporations with little oversight and not enough protections for workers. Now, both sides do agree they have to sort this out quickly because Americans need relief and so do the markets...

Credit to NBC for holding Democrats accountable for placing ideology above expediency during a crisis. If only CBS and ABC could have made the same effort.

Here is a transcript of the March 23 coverage on NBC’s Today show:

7:00 AM ET TEASE

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Stalemate. Overnight, Senate Democrats block the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, saying it has a slush fund for big business. Republicans warning their rivals are playing with fire as the economy tanks.

7:05 AM ET SEGMENT

GUTHRIE: As mentioned, overnight, the new $2 trillion coronavirus aid package was blocked by Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill, and there’s also a new case of the virus there. NBC’s Tom Costello’s got that part of the story. Tom, good morning to you.

TOM COSTELLO: Yeah, good morning. So, the Senate’s going to try again today to vote on its version of that $2 trillion stimulus package. However, they’ve got a problem because now a U.S. Senator has tested positive for the virus. House Democrats say that they want to have their own bill which really focuses, they say, more on families and workers than on big business.

The administration’s focus, it says, is right now on pushing critical supplies, medical supplies, to cities in need. But in some of the hardest hit cities, like New York, city officials say the the federal response so far has been insufficient.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Battle Over Economic Rescue Package; Dems Block Bill as Talks Stall Amid Growing Crisis]

On Capitol Hill this morning, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed House Democrats after a procedural vote on the Senate measure failed Sunday evening.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL [R-KY]: The Speaker of the House shows up and we’re back to square one.

COSTELLO: Nancy Pelosi firing back, Democrats want more money and better protections for affected workers and their families.

REP. NANCY PELOSI [D-CA]: We’ll be introducing our own bill and hopefully it will be compatible with what they discussed in the Senate.

COSTELLO: But McConnell faces another major hurdle, with Rand Paul becoming the first U.S. senator to test positive for the virus and several other Republican senators now in self-quarantine. All this adding to the debate over whether members of congress, many of whom are in the high-risk category for coronavirus, should be allowed to vote remotely, which is currently not allowed.

DONALD TRUMP: I think it may be a constitutional reason why you should, but we could be in a position where I would certainly be favor of it, where they could vote from a certain outside location.

COSTELLO: And with growing concerns about a deepening recession, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says it could be June before things start to normalize. The President’s hopeful the stimulus package and pent-up demand for services like eating out will lead to a speedy economic recovery.

TRUMP: Our goal is to get relief as quickly as possible so that families can get by and small businesses can keep workers on the payroll. This will help our economy. And you will see our economy skyrocket once this is over.

(...)

7:30 AM ET NEWS BRIEF

HODA KOTB: Overnight, a vote to advance a $2 trillion stimulus bill failed. Democrats argue the economic rescue package is tilted toward corporations and does too little to help workers and health care providers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of obstruction.

7:34 AM ET SEGMENT

(...)

GUTHRIE: Governor, last night, I believe it was yesterday, the Democrats in Congress blocked this latest almost $2 trillion aid package on the basis that, according to Democrats, it had a “slush fund” – what they call it, a pejorative term – too much money to corporations, not enough to regular folks. My question to you though is, people are desperate, they need this money, they need this help. Is this the time to have these kinds of arguments or should it be fast-tracked essentially?

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER [D-IL]: Well, we certainly need another stimulus put in place. I think some of the lessons of 2008 need to be learned though. The money really needs to get in the hands of the middle class, the working class, and people who really need it. And the states, by the way, who are providing services to people who are now out of work and those who are developmentally disabled and others. Because remember, our revenues in the states are dropping precipitously because people are out of work and businesses have closed and we are increasing our expenditures in order to take care of people across the United States. So we need another stimulus, no doubt about it. There shouldn’t be an argument, but the argument – but the truth is that this stimulus bill should be about average people –          

GUTHRIE: Well, how long do you want Democrats to hold this line?

PRITZKER: Say it again.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, yeah. I said how long, though, do you want your colleagues in the Senate to hold this line, you know, and make this point?

PRITZKER: Well, I mean, how long? Look, they should resolve this today, there’s no doubt about it. But needlessly handing billions of dollars to companies when you could put it in the hands of average folks or into the hands of states that are providing services seems, you know, illogical to me.

(...)

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