Over the weekend, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent the liberal media into a tailspin by announcing he was seriously exploring the idea of running as an independent candidate in 2020. Instead of treating him as just another candidate in what was turning out to be a very crowded field Monday evening, the liberal broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) treated him as a threat to the Democratic Party’s chances of beating President Trump.
After NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt noted the announcement had left “Democrats up in arms,” chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell declared: “Billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz could be brewing trouble for Democrats in 2020.” The on-screen headline over Holt's shoulder read "Brewing Controversy." It's unlikely they will frame any Democratic hopeful in those terms.
Mitchell went on to recall how “third-party candidates have changed elections,” such as Ross Perot cost George H.W. Bush his reelection. “[Former New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, exploring running as a Democrat, tweeted that he had considered running as an independent before, but ‘an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President,’” she added, just as the other networks did.
Of course, Mitchell had to get in at least one dig against Trump. “Forbes says he's worth $3.5 billion, that’s more than Donald Trump,” she added.
Leading into the segment on the CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor reported that an unnamed left-leaning PAC was ready to “make Howard Schultz a, quote, ‘target’ if he runs.”
Not going into any more detail about that political action committee, CBS political correspondent Ed O’Keefe warned that “[t]he 65-year-old billionaire is a long-time Democrat and an independent candidacy could siphon off votes from the Democratic nominee, handing President Trump a second term.” He too warned about how Perot costing Bush his reelection. CBS also panicked during their 60 Minutes segment about Schultz.
While congressional correspondent Mary Bruce did note that “Democrats warn he could cost them the White House” during ABC’s World News Tonight, the network also appeared to try to counter Schultz’s influence by hyping California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.
“The Democratic field is already getting crowded. California Senator Kamala Harris kicked off her campaign this weekend before a crowd of more than 20,000 people,” Bruce announced, before playing his soundbite from the rally:
HARRIS: We must answer a fundamental question. Who are we? Who are we as Americans? So, let's answer that question to the world and each other right here and right now. America, we are better than this.
ABC wrapped up the segment by seemingly trying to quell concerns that two-time failed-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton might try to run yet again. “David, Hillary Clinton is not readying another run,” Bruce emphasized. “Now, she has not ruled it out explicitly, and she did say recently she would like to be president, but so far, there are zero signs that she's going to give this another go.”
Ironically, the liberal media freak out might accidentally help Schultz. As Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt noted on Special Report, “Howard Schultz is a political nonentity. He is an unknown person. He is less well known -- Katie Pavlich has higher name identification, probably substantially.” So, by running so many panicked reports on him, they might actually increase Schultz’s name ID and potential interest from voters.
The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:
ABC’s World News Tonight
January 28, 2019
6:43:59 p.m. Eastern
DAVID MUIR: In the meantime, the race for 2020, the list of candidates who want to take on President Trump is growing tonight. The former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, signaling overnight he might run. And tonight, the reaction has been swift. And over the weekend, 20,000 turning out for Senator Kamala Harris. Here's ABC's Mary Bruce.
[Cuts to video]
MARY BRUCE: Democrats warn he could cost them the White House. But former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz isn't backing down.
HOWARD SCHULTZ: If I run for president, I will run as an American, under one banner, the American flag.
BRUCE: Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, would run as an independent.
SCHULTZ: Both parties are consistently not doing what's necessary on behalf of the American people.
BRUCE: But former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who himself considered an independent run, insists "an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President." The Democratic field is already getting crowded. California Senator Kamala Harris kicked off her campaign this weekend before a crowd of more than 20,000 people.
KAMALA HARRIS: We must answer a fundamental question. Who are we? Who are we as Americans? So, let's answer that question to the world and each other right here and right now. America, we are better than this.
CBS Evening News
January 28, 2019
6:40:18 p.m. Eastern
JEFF GLOR: The former head of Starbucks gave the 2020 campaign a jolt by telling 60 Minutes he is seriously considering a run for president as an independent. Today a political action committee that supports Democrats promised to make Howard Schultz a, quote, "target" if he runs. Here's Ed O’Keefe.
[Cuts to video]
HOWARD SCHULTZ: I will run as a centrist independent outside of the two-party system.
ED O’KEEFE: That announcement by former Starbucks' C.E.O. Howard Schultz on 60 Minutes Sunday has Democrats worried he will sink their chances in 2020. The 65-year-old billionaire is a long-time Democrat and an independent candidacy could siphon off votes from the Democratic nominee, handing President Trump a second term.
JULIAN CASTRO: It would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting reelected.
O’KEEFE: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, mulling his own run for the White House, warned today, “there is no way an independent can win”. In the modern era, the history of third-party or independent candidates is marked by failure.
O’KEEFE: Only independent Ross Perot in 1992 broke into the double-digit, arguably costing George H.W. Bush the election.
[Cuts back to live]
O’KEEFE: In a sign of how serious he, is Schultz tonight announced he's hiring veterans of two successful Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns. But a formal launch is not expected for a few more months. Jeff?
NBC Nightly News
January 28, 2019
7:09:36 p.m. Eastern [1 minute 39 seconds]
LESTER HOLT: And while the trade war is raging, President Trump also has 2020 on his mind. Today he practically dared a big name in the business world to jump into the race. Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is considering an independent run. But as Andrea Mitchell explains, that has Democrats up in arms.
[Cuts to video]
ANDREA MITCHELL: Billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz could be brewing trouble for Democrats in 2020. Announcing he's considering running as an independent, tweeting today --
HOWARD SCHULTZ: Both parties at the extreme are not representing the silent majority of the American people.
MITCHELL: The life-long Democrat telling 60 Minutes --
SCHULTZ: The American people are exhausted. Their trust has been broken. And they are looking for a better choice.
MITCHELL: Schultz, who grew up in Brooklyn public housing, transformed Starbucks from a single Seattle coffee bean shop into a global brand. 30,000 stores in 77 countries. He could finance his own race. Forbes says he's worth $3.5 billion, that’s more than Donald Trump. The President goading him to run tweeting today, “Howard Schultz doesn't have the guts to run for president”.
Third-party candidates have changed elections. President Bush 41 always blamed Ross Perot for his re-election loss. In 2016, third-parties drew more than 5 percent of the vote. Another billionaire, Mike Bloomberg, exploring running as a Democrat, tweeted that he had considered running as an independent before, but “an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the president.”
[Cuts back to live]
But Schultz told NPR he thinks the current crop of Democrats are too far left to win against President Trump. Lester?
HOLT: Alright, Andrea Mitchell, thanks.