Nets Fawn Over Retiring Flake Slamming Trump, Downplay Likely Re-Election Loss

The longtime critic of President Trump and wishy-washy conservative, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake announced his retirement on the Senate Floor Tuesday in a spectacle targeting the President and designed to get the media all hot and bothered. After he called Trump "reckless, outrageous and undignified” all of the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) gleefully led their evening newscasts with the GOP infighting as they fawned over Flake for ‘speaking truth to power,’ while mostly omitting how he was likely to lose re-election in the primary.

In a year of stunning unheard of political moments, you almost had to pause to take in how extraordinary it was to hear not one but two Republican U.S. Senators publicly rebuke the integrity and character of a sitting President in the terms we heard today,” announced Anchor Lester Holt in awe as he began NBC Nightly News.

Throwing Republican Senator Bob Corker into the mix, Holt touted how “Flake and Corker both unburdened of re-election worries, and with little to lose, speaking their truth to power today, at a time the President can ill afford to lose Republican support for his agenda.

And during the report, NBC Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson glorified Flake’s comments as “extraordinary on every level.” “In a remarkable relentless critique of Donald Trump, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake announcing he'll retire rather than keep work with a leader he finds dangerous to democracy,” she said. “The Senator's voice, thick with emotion.

To kick off CBS Evening News, Anchor Anthony Mason seemed to relish in the Republican Party infighting:

The sniping between President Trump and some members of his own party has now escalated into open warfare. Today the President went to Capitol Hill to have lunch with Republican Senators, but two of them issued stark warnings about the President's ability to lead. Arizona Republican Jeff Flake announced he won't run next year so he can freely speak out against Mr. Trump, calling him a threat to democracy.

Arizona's Jeff Flake stood on the Senate Floor, his voice quivering as he called the President ‘indecent, reckless, and undignified,’” added CBS White House Correspondent Nancy Cordes. Mason ended the segment by mocking the GOP, saying: “Nancy Cordes with the latest episode of Family Feud.

ABC’s sensationalist anchor, David Muir led the night with treating Flake’s comments as though he was a great revolutionary. “And we begin tonight with two leading Republican Senators taking on President Trump,” he hyped. “One of them standing on the floor of the Senate late today saying: ‘I rise to say enough.’ Arizona's Jeff Flake adding: ‘I will not be complicit.’

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

Standing on the Senate Floor, the Republican Senator delivered an extraordinary indictment of the Republican President, calling Donald Trump ‘reckless, outrageous and undignified,’” opined ABC Correspondent Mary Bruce, a reporter who was always sure to revel in Republican division. She asserted that Flake was joining “a wave of top Republicans ripping into the President,” even though it’s not many and Flake had been doing it for a while.

Bruce also claimed that “Arizona Senator Jeff Flake says he will not run for re-election because he is so disgusted.” But she failed to do the job fully and mention how Flake was desperately low in the polls and was likely going to lose his seat in an embarrassing primary loss.

In fact, the only network to mention his re-election chances was NBC. “Politically, he was in jeopardy back home in a risky re-election fight,” noted Jackson.

But the race was shaping up to be more than just “risky.” In late August, a HighGround poll had Flake down by 14 points. A few days later, RealClear Politics polling data showed Flake’s primary challenger was ahead by 26 points and close to 50 percent in the poll. And as a graph by FiveThirtyEight published in the wake of Flake’s announcement explained, his challenger was up at nearly 60 percent in the polls while he was down near 30. Clearly, it had only gotten worse over time.

Indeed, the networks only really cared about Flake’s retirement announcement because he was tearing into their favorite punching bag. If they wanted to tell the full story, they would have done the work and reported how he was leaving the Senate more out of an inability to hold onto his seat than out of some moral cause.

Transcripts below:

Sign Up for MRC Newsletters!

NBC Nightly News
October 24, 2017
7:01:32 – 7:06:48 PM Eastern [5 minutes 15 seconds]

LESTER HOLT: Good evening and thanks for being with us. In a year of stunning unheard of political moments, you almost had to pause to take in how extraordinary it was to hear not one but two Republican U.S. Senators publicly rebuke the integrity and character of a sitting President in the terms we heard today. From Bob Corker, President Trump has quote, “debased” the United States. And this from Jeff Flake as he announced retirement plans.

(…)

HOLT: Flake and Corker both unburdened of re-election worries, and with little to lose, speaking their truth to power today, at time the President can ill afford to lose Republican support for his agenda. Our Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson with details.

[Cuts to video]

(…)

HALLIE JACKSON: In a remarkable relentless critique of Donald Trump, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake announcing he'll retire rather than keep work with a leader he finds dangerous to democracy.

(…)

JACKSON: The Senator's voice, thick with emotion.

(…)

JACKSON: Extraordinary on every level as a political earthquake shakes the GOP so hard it splinters. It’s not just Flake. Another retiring Republican, Senator Bob Corker is now accusing the President of debasing the U.S. on the world stage.

(…)

JACKSON: The drama, instead came when Flake announced he would leave the Senate in early 2019. Politically, he was in jeopardy back home in a risky re-election fight but in the next year he and other Republicans could block parts of the President's agenda, stalled so far.

(…)

...

ABC
World News Tonight
October 24, 2017
6:31:26 – 6:35:04 PM Eastern [3 minutes 37 seconds]

DAVID MUIR: Good evening. And it's great to have you with us here on a Tuesday night. And we begin tonight with two leading Republican Senators taking on President Trump. One of them standing on the floor of the Senate late today saying: “I rise to say enough.” Arizona's Jeff Flake adding: “I will not be complicit.” It comes just hours after Republican Senator Bob Corker reignited his very public feud with the President. Corker calling the President, quote: “An utterly untruthful President.” President Trump unleashing a Twitter attack, and tonight, the White House responding. ABC's Mary Bruce leading us off.

[Cuts to video]

MARY BRUCE: Standing on the Senate Floor, the Republican Senator delivered an extraordinary indictment of the Republican President, calling Donald Trump "reckless, outrageous and undignified."

(…)

BRUCE: Arizona Senator Jeff Flake says he will not run for re-election because he is so disgusted.

(…)

BRUCE: Calling it a matter of duty and conscience, Flake now joins a wave of top Republicans ripping into the President.

(…)

SARAH SANDERS: Look, I think the voters of these individual Senators' states are speaking in pretty loud volumes. I think that they were not likely to be re-elected and I think that shows that the support is more behind this President than it is these two individuals.

(…)


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW
NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2018 Congressional Bias by Omission Sudden Respect Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Broadcast Television ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Mary Bruce Jeff Flake David Muir Lester Holt Hallie Jackson Anthony Mason Nancy Cordes Donald Trump Bob Corker