During Monday’s edition of CNN’s New Day, correspondent Martin Savidge put together a package on the Tennessee Senate race of former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen versus Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and after the package concluded, co-host Alisyn Camerota all but endorsed Bredesen by proclaiming: “It’s nice to imagine that moderates are not extinct.”
Savidge referred to Bredesen as a “moderate who is widely known and liked.” In contrast to his flattering description of Bredesen, Savidge described Blackburn as a “Republican Congressional firebrand” and a “Trump stalwart.” After playing a clip of Blackburn warning about the possible perils of a Democratic Senate, Savidge added: “That kind of polarized politics may fire up her base, but it could turn off moderate Republicans.”
On camera, Savidge asked Bredesen if there was “still a place for a moderate like yourself in today’s very polarized political environment.”
This labeling of Blackburn as a “firebrand” and “stalwart” follows a pattern in the media of branding conservatives, *(especially female conservatives) as extremists. On the front page of Monday’s The New York Times, reporter Elizabeth Dias described Blackburn as “incendiary,” “hard-right,” and “hard-edged,” particularly expressing discontent with her pro-life stance on abortion. Like The Times piece, the CNN report mentioned that Thomas Cigarran, the owner of the Nashville Predators hockey team, has donated to Bredesen’s campaign despite the fact that he has previously donated to Republicans.
Camerota and fellow co-host John Berman prefaced Savidge’s report by pointing out that CNN has changed the rating of the Tennessee Senate race from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.” An explanation for the rating change on the CNN website cited a poll showing Bredesen narrowly leading Blackburn with Bredesen’s favorability rating at 61 percent, in contrast to President Trump’s 47 percent approval and Blackburn’s 46 percent favorability rating.
A political consultant Savidge interviewed for his report emphasized that in order to win, Bredesen “will have to persuade enough of the middle, undecided, undetermined voters that he will be independent of the Democratic national leadership if he goes to Washington.”
For a little historical perspective, the media agreed with Democrats in 2016 when they thought that having former two-term Democratic Senator and former Governor Evan Bayh as their nominee for an open Indiana Senate seat would carry them to victory in a red state. While the earliest polls showed Bayh beating Republican candidate Todd Young, Young ultimately emerged victorious. Sad trombone
As for this year’s Senate race in Tennessee, perhaps Berman said it best when he closed the segment on the Tennessee Senate race “we will see what happens on Election Day,” shortly after Camerota made it perfectly clear how she would like to see the race turn out.
A transcript of the relevant portion of New Day is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CNN’s New Day
ALISYN CAMEROTA: All right, set your calendars. There’s just 57 days until voters head to the polls for the midterm elections. One key Senate race is going from leaning Republican to now a toss-up. Democrat Phil Bredesen is gaining support in Tennessee and CNN’s Martin Savidge has more.
MARTIN SAVIDGE (voice over): It’s dove season in Tennessee, but Phil Bredesen’s hunting something much more elusive in this reliably red state. He’s a Democrat aiming to win the Senate seat of retiring Republican Bob Corker. And many believe Bredesen actually has a shot. The former Nashville mayor and two-term governor is a moderate who is widely known and liked.
LOGAN YARDELL, BREDESEN BACKER: Mr. Bredesen has a proven track record for fighting for this state against the federal government or with the federal government.
SAVIDGE: But, Bredesen isn’t the only popular politician in the state.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Do we love Tennessee!
SAVIDGE: Donald Trump swept Tennessee, winning 61 percent of the vote and 92 of 95 counties. The last time Bredesen faced voters, he got nearly 69 percent of the vote and won every county. But that was 12 years ago and Tennessee’s a lot redder.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Is popularity enough for him?
TOM INGRAM, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: No. He will have to persuade enough of the middle, undecided, undetermined voters that he will be independent of the Democratic national leadership if he goes to Washington.
SAVIDGE (voice over): Which means attacking Trump, a tactic Democrats can use elsewhere, won’t work in Tennessee.
SAVIDGE (on camera): You go after the President?
PHIL BREDESEN: No, I make a point of saying, you know, I’m not running against the president.
SAVIDGE (voice over): Bredesen may not be attacking Trump, but Trump is attacking him.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: This guy will 100 percent vote against us every single time.
SAVIDGE: The President’s backing Republican Congressional firebrand Marcia Blackburn. She’s a Trump stalwart, which conservatives like.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Is that appealing to you? Does that work for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I’m pro-Trump. I’m all the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Marsha more fits with where I am politically.
SAVIDGE (voice over): We repeatedly reached out to the Blackburn campaign for an interview. They never responded. Blackburn’s message is simple. As she told Fox News, a vote for Bredesen is a vote to put Democrats in control of the Senate.
MARSHA BLACKBURN: What they’re going to do is to repeal the Trump tax cuts. They’re going to push for government-run single payer health care. They are going to push to abolish ICE.
SAVIDGE: That kind of polarized politics may fire up her base, but it could turn off moderate Republicans.
INGRAM: It’s a risk. I mean she’s got to tell us who she is, not who Trump is.
SAVIDGE: According to campaign officials and election finance records, Bredesen’s already winning support from some of Tennessee’s top GOP donors. Tom Cigarran, co-owner of the Nashville Predators hockey team, and Pitt Hyde, the founder of AutoZone.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Do you think there’s still a place for a moderate like yourself in today’s very polarized political environment?
BREDESEN: Yeah, I really do. I think that people are…that a lot of real people are just yearning for, you know, someone to find some compromises and just to stop…stop standing on opposite sides of the room and shouting at each other and throwing bricks at each other and start to move some things forward.
SAVIDGE (voice over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
CAMEROTA: Well, it’s nice to imagine that moderates are not extinct.
BERMAN: It…we’ll see.
CAMEROTA: Yes, we will.