John Dickerson hinted on Wednesday's CBS This Morning that the only radicals in the abortion debate were on the pro-life side. During a discussion about the furor over Rep. Todd Akin's recent "legitimate rape" remark, Dickerson stated that "Congressman Akin...put a highlight on the extreme end of the abortion debate."
The political director's liberal slant came in the midst of his network's 37 minutes of coverage of the Akin controversy since Monday. By contrast, CBS devoted just under 10 minutes of coverage to Vice President Joe Biden's "put y'all back in chains" smear of Republicans over a similar three-day period earlier in August, a nearly four-to-one disparity.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams brought on political director Chuck Todd to give a "damage assessment" for Republicans in the wake of the Todd Akin controversy. Todd attempted to blame the conservative grassroots for the uproar: "...the Tea Party effect....will maybe cost Mitch McConnell a shot at controlling the United States Senate. Their own infighting has done this." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What Todd failed to mention was that Tea Party Express and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin backed one of Akin's opponents, Sarah Steelman, in the Missouri Republican Senate primary.
The New York Times extended the controversy over offensive comments made by Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin to indict the entire Republican Party, misleadingly conflating Akin's remark about "legitimate rape" with the party's traditional pro-life stance. Wednesday's two connected lead stories were ushered in under the banner headline "Ignoring Deadline to Quit, G.O.P. Senate Candidate Defies His Party Leaders: Unexpected Twist in the Election Campaigns."
The headline over Jennifer Steinhauer's story nationalized the firestorm in Missouri: "Unexpected Turn in Campaign for President," and the story's headline on the jump page crystalized Democratic wishful thinking: "Missouri Controversy May Endanger Republican Chances in the Fall."
There’s no denying that what Rep. Todd Akin said was completely inappropriate, but for it to receive four times more coverage than the Vice President of the United States’ indefensibly racist gaffe is unconscionable. Todd Akin is a congressman. Joe Biden is one heartbeat from being the leader of the Free World. Once again, the media’s double standard is exposed for all to see.
If Ronald Reagan was the "Teflon President," then Joe Biden is the "Teflon Blowhard." He’s spent his entire career with his foot firmly lodged in his mouth, uttering an endless stream of impossibly stupid, vulgar, and insensitive things. And yet the media fall all over themselves to make excuses for blustery "Old Uncle Joe."
A week after giving relatively light coverage to Joe Biden's "chains" smear, the broadcast networks eagerly dove into the Todd Akin controversy, giving over four times more coverage to an uproar involving a statewide (conservative) politician than a controversy involving a national (liberal) politician. NBC, CBS and ABC's evening and morning shows have devoted an astonishing 88 minutes (or 40 segments) of coverage to Congressman Akin's "legitimate rape" remark. Over a similar three day period, the networks allowed a scant 19 minutes (or ten segments) to a racially charged gaffe by the Vice President of the United States.
CBS This Morning reporter Norah O'Donnell on Tuesday pronounced, "If Akin is still running for the United States Senate, everybody is going to be asking about Akin, abortion rights, women's rights, etc., during the Republican convention." CBS journalists certainly did their best to make sure "everybody" would be talking about the Republican. The network hyped the story the most, pushing the controversy for 13 segments and 37 minutes.
"GOP rejects rape exception in platform," blared a Politico headline yesterday. "Even as Mitt Romney sought to quash the furor surrounding Todd Akin’s 'legitimate' rape comments, the Republican platform committee here approved an abortion plank that includes no exemptions for rape, incest or even to save the life of the mother," James Hohmann noted in the lead paragraph of his August 21 story.
"On Tuesday, not one of the 100-plus members on the GOP platform committee introduced amendments. They kept the identical language from 2004 and 2008," Hohmann groused, comporting to the media's quadrennial fixation on how the GOP is supposedly too extremely pro-life. By contrast, as I noted yesterday, the 15-person Democratic platform committee -- one member of which is NARAL Pro-Choice America's president -- earlier this month stubbornly refused to mildly soften their party's stringent pro-choice abortion plank. Politico, of course, failed to cover that controversy.
Time magazine's Joe Klein made a truly disgraceful comment on MSNBC's Hardball Tuesday.
"The Republican Party has a major grassroots problem which is that a good part of its grassroots now celebrate ignorance. It’s more, it’s more than abortion and women’s rights" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday continued the effort to tie the entire Republican Party to the gaffe-prone Todd Akin, smearing the GOP as a party that doesn't believe in the concept of rape. Matthews interrogated former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele: "Is it true or not true that you've got people in your party so far to the right that they have a problem with a woman saying she was raped?"
Matthews piled on, hyping, "Your political party has some real troglodytes in it... Guys right out of the Caveman television ads." The Hardball anchor ended the segment on the Republican Party by trashing, "...Our politics is getting more Middle Eastern, where any rumor, any weird theory becomes the thing you fight over."
The network morning shows on Tuesday devoted an enormous 20 minutes and 53 seconds to obsessing over a gaffe by a Republican congressman, hyping Todd Akin's comments for nine separate segments. NBC, CBS and ABC touted Democratic efforts to link the gaffe-prone representative to the GOP presidential ticket.
Former Democratic operative turned Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos zeroed in on Akin's comments what constitutes a "legitimate rape." He breathlessly wondered, "We saw the President pounce in the White House briefing room yesterday. How are the Democrats going to try to capitalize on this today?"
Every four years, without fail, the liberal media wring their hands over the influence of pro-lifers on the GOP platform, suggesting that the party is too "extreme" in its position on abortion and hence out of step with middle-of-the-road voters. Of course, the same concern is not expressed regarding the Democrats' position on the same issue being too out-of-step with most Americans.
This year, the row over Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments on rape and abortion are being seized upon as a springboard to attack the party. Witness MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts on today's MSNBC Live.
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed: "Firestorm. A Congressman's words about rape rocket across the country...women's issues are front and center again." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams announced how "suddenly" Republican Todd Akin's comments "exploded well beyond the borders of Missouri."
Correspondent Andrea Mitchell began her report by nationalizing the gaffe made by Akin during a local news interview: "Republicans fear their hopes for the White House and control of the Senate could turn on what happened at a St. Louis TV station..." Mitchell later touted: "In a race where the President had a 15-point advantage with women voters in the last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Republicans were reeling."
CNN's Piers Morgan played right into the hand of the Obama campaign's co-chair on Monday night, casting the fallout from Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) rape remarks as "Romney's worst nightmare."
"Yeah, I think you've hit the nail on the head," Morgan told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) after she delivered her liberal spin tying Akin to Paul Ryan and the GOP. "Now it [the debate] has become Romney's worst nightmare. It's gone right back to the social conservative issues he was so desperate to move off on."