NBC Hypes: 'Challenge From...Far Right' Led to Boehner's Resignation

Two journalists on Friday's NBC Nightly News played up how the supposed "far right" of the Republican Party pushed out Rep. John Boehner, who announced earlier in the day that he would be stepping down as Speaker of the House. Lester Holt underlined that Boehner is "resigning from Congress at the end of next month in the face of a challenge from members of the far right of his party, who believe he's gone soft on Democrats."

Joe Scarborough later cited how when House Republicans "ran Newt Gingrich out of town – it actually put the far right on the defensive, and made the next speaker's job easier....He [Bohner] suspects this will make his successor's job easier as well." [video below]

Holt teased correspondent Kelly O'Donnell's report by hyping "the Boehner bombshell sending shockwaves across Washington – the House Speaker suddenly announces he'll resign – tonight, a Republican Party divided, and a mad scramble to replace him." Moments later, he led into the segment with his "far right" label. He also included a second "right" term during his introduction, and continued with compliments from anonymous Boehner backers:

LESTER HOLT: The political shocker that has rattled Washington, exposing a deep rift within the Republican Party: the announcement that one of the most powerful men in the country, House Speaker John Boehner, is calling it quits. He is resigning from Congress at the end of next month in the face of a challenge from members of the far right of his party, who believe he's gone soft on Democrats. And while his exit is eliciting cheers from some on the right, Boehner supporters view it as a pretty shrewd and selfless move to spare the country from another government shutdown.

During her report, O'Donnell emphasized that "Boehner has been under relentless pressure from a few dozen angry House conservatives plotting to oust him – charging he caved to Democrats too often." She added that "today, those Republican adversaries did not gloat....But grassroots conservatives at a Washington conference [the Values Voter Summit] claimed victory when they heard the news."

Near the end of the segment, the NBC journalist wondered, "But will Congress function any better with a new speaker?" She continued that "Boehner says by turning the page, he hopes his party will unite around a new leader. But Democrats and some Republicans I've talked to say they worry things could get even worse."

Holt then turned to Scarborough and Meet The Press host Chuck Todd for their take on the resignation.

LESTER HOLT: Let's get some insight into the internal strife in the Republican Party that led up to this announcement and what happens next. We want to bring in our political director, the moderator of Meet The Press, Chuck Todd; and Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, and a former congressman himself. Joe, let's start with you. For those who wanted Boehner out, they got what they wanted. What's part two? Will they get the kind of replacement they want?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, one insider – a very powerful insider in Congress told me it's going to be same problems, but a new guy. But because John Boehner has taken himself out of the fight; taken himself out of the fray, he's going to make his successor's job much easier, and that successor most likely is going to be Kevin McCarthy. He's moving very quickly to move support his direction, and most people believe – that I talked to today – it is going to be Kevin McCarthy.

And ironically – and I've been through this before – and Chuck was reporting back when we ran Newt Gingrich out of town – it actually put the far right on the defensive, and made the next speaker's job easier. John Boehner was there when we did that to Newt. He suspects this will make his successor's job easier as well.

HOLT: And Chuck, let's step back here and look at the environment this is happening in here. We're looking at this – the political environment of the campaign right now. Do they reflect each other?

CHUCK TODD: They do. Look, the same energy that this conservative group in the House was tapping into and was, sort of, expressing – and essentially, forced Boehner to do what he did – is what we're seeing on the campaign trail. In fact, we've got some new NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls out tonight to show, among Republican primary voters that we have been testing with this presidential race – 72 percent called themselves dissatisfied with the congressional Republican leadership, Mitch Mcconnell and John Boehner. And that's where this fight has playing out. The same energy that has been propelling Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina is the same energy that ousted Boehner. So, this fight continues on the trail.

On CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes asserted that "Boehner got worn down by four years of fights with his own right flank." She also played up that conservatives "dug in their heels on the debt ceiling, ObamaCare, and funding for Planned Parenthood. When Boehner said those fights were unwinnable, he became the enemy." The journalist also played the same clip of the crowd cheering at the Values Voters Summit that O'Donnell featured.

Cordes later zeroed in on how "the uncertainty worries some Republicans, like New York's Peter King." She then played a clip of the representative stating, "I feel bad for the party that the crazies have taken over."

ABC's Jonathan Karl avoided using the "far right" and "right" terms during his report on Boehner on World News Tonight:

JONATHAN KARL: If he had stayed, Boehner faced endless battles with House conservatives who believed he was too willing to compromise with Democrats, and who wanted a fight that could have led to a government shutdown in just a few days. A shutdown is now much less likely. David, Boehner will remain as Speaker until the end of next month. As for his replacement, it will almost certainly be California Republican Kevin McCarthy. He has a better relationship with conservatives, but they will undoubtedly challenge him just as they challenged John Boehner.

The full transcript of Kelly O'Donnell's report from Friday's NBC Nightly News:

LESTER HOLT: The political shocker that has rattled Washington, exposing a deep rift within the Republican Party: the announcement that one of the most powerful men in the country, House Speaker John Boehner, is calling it quits. He is resigning from Congress at the end of next month in the face of a challenge from members of the far right of his party, who believe he's gone soft on Democrats. And while his exit is eliciting cheers from some on the right, Boehner supporters view it as a pretty shrewd and selfless move to spare the country from another government shutdown.

Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell explains.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Heads up, guys! Please clear a path – either side of the hallway, please!

KELLY O'DONNELL (voice-over): Out the door – John Boehner walked this gauntlet today-

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER, (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Here – come on, make a hole here!

O'DONNELL: Minutes after he stunned Republican colleagues by abruptly announcing his resignation as House Speaker – effective October 30.

BOEHNER (from press conference): I decided – you know, today is the day I'm going to do this – as simple as that.

O'DONNELL: Looking relieved – even happy – Boehner has been under relentless pressure from a few dozen angry House conservatives plotting to oust him – charging he caved to Democrats too often.

BOEHNER: Just all of this stuff I read about in the paper, and – you know, it's – I really don't want to hurt – the institution hurt, and I don't want my colleagues hurt. I don't want – I don't want to put my colleagues through all of this. For what?

O'DONNELL: Today, those Republican adversaries did not gloat.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS, (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The Speaker made a – a very humble and class (sic) move today.

O'DONNELL: But grassroots conservatives at a Washington conference claimed victory when they heard the news.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from speech at Value Voters Summit): Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning. (audience cheers and applauds)

O'DONNELL: Boehner's resignation frees him politically. Advisers say he will prevent a looming shutdown next week by working with Democrats to fund the government – with money for Planned Parenthood that conservatives wanted to block over abortion.

Boehner's exit comes one day after he made history. The devoutly Catholic son of an Ohio barkeeper tried for 20 years to bring a pope to Congress. His trademark tears flowed, and the pope's message of politics for the common good moved him.

BOEHNER: The Pope puts his arm around me and, kind of, pulls me to him, and says, please pray for me. Wow! Who am I to pray for the Pope? But I did.

O'DONNELL: Boehner leaves with the same motive that brought him here in 1990.

BOEHNER (from file C-SPAN video): People throughout this country really do want Congress to change.

O'DONNELL: Now, his sudden resignation sets off a scramble for a successor – perhaps, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

O'DONNELL (off-camera): Are you going to be the next speaker, sir? Are you going to be the next speaker?

O'DONNELL (live): But will Congress function any better with a new speaker? Boehner says by turning the page, he hopes his party will unite around a new leader. But Democrats and some Republicans I've talked to say they worry things could get even worse. Lester?

HOLT: Kelly O'Donnell, thanks.

NB Daily Congress Labeling Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Lester Holt Kelly O'Donnell Joe Scarborough Nancy Cordes Jonathan Karl John Boehner
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