Here’s a critical review of some of the most newsworthy moments of this past weekend:
NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd
The impending vote to strip Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) of her House leadership position formed the focus of Todd’s interview with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who holds down the liberal-wing of the Republican Party. The current Cheney vote represents “a battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” Hogan said. The GOP has become “sort of a circular firing squad where we’re just attacking members of our own party” and “you have to swear fealty to the Dear Leader,” he said.
Hogan, who plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, presented himself as a hope for moderates. “I ran 45 points ahead of the president” in deep blue Maryland, he said.
I’m ahead of him among Republicans, among conservatives, and among Democrats and independents. … I think that most voters in both parties are kind of fed up with the crazy things that are coming out of both parties. And they, they really want to elect elected officials that are willing to work together, that are willing to get things done and come up with bipartisan, common-sense solutions. And I’ve proven that in two elections in a row by winning overwhelmingly with Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
The last two moderate Republican governors of a Democratic state to argue that they could appeal to voters across the political spectrum were Chris Christie in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012.
Chuck Todd elevated the importance of the GOP split when he implied the Republican Party was becoming a party of “traitors.” Todd seconded a statement by Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher that “Ulysses S. Grant at the start of the Civil War said, ‘There are but two parties now, traitors and patriots.’ I’m afraid, Chuck, that we’re, we’re increasingly coming back to that time.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci also made news on Sunday’s Meet the Press by asserting that the American people may be wearing masks every year for the foreseeable future. “Is the mask going to be something we have with us in a seasonal aspect?” Todd asked. “You know, that’s quite possible,” Dr. Fauci replied. “I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks, clearly, if you look at the data, diminishes respiratory diseases.” Fauci noted that “we’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year.” Todd added that “at this point, anybody that trusts you, trusts the government, trusts us in the media has gotten a vaccine. I think it’s safe to assume those that haven’t have some trust issues.”
ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”
ABC also focused on the GOP divide. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he believed Liz Cheney wanted to lose her leadership position, as she continued “antagonizing” the pro-Trump majority in the House Republican caucus after surviving a leadership vote in February. Christie noted that the voting record and ideological background of Cheney’s likely successor, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), is to Cheney’s Left, making Stefanik “more likely to bring a moderating voice on policy.” For instance, Stefanik opposed President Trump’s 2017 tax cut and voted for the Equality Act.
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel encouraged Republicans to look to John Boehner and George W. Bush for guidance about the future of their party. The Republican Party, he said, “is not a conservative party. Look at John Boehner’s book; look at former President Bush’s book. That’s conservative. This is a reactionary party built on both resentment and racism.”
Emanuel also erroneously claimed that former President Donald Trump had been a uniquely unsuccessful candidate in 2020. Emanuel said, “It took 90 years to find a president who could lose the White House, the House, and the Senate.” However, his former boss, Barack Obama, did that, losing 63 seats in the House of Representatives, nine Senate seats in 2014, and the White House in what Obama’s circle believed to be a slam-dunk election in 2016 (when Republicans also retained the House and Senate). In total, the Democratic Party lost more than 1,030 seats nationwide during Obama’s two terms in office, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Hogan made a similar claim about Trump on “Meet the Press,” saying, “We had the worst four years we’ve had ever in the Republican Party, losing the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.” But voters rejected President George W. Bush’s unpopular second term agenda of bailouts for corporate executives and amnesty for illegal immigrants, with Republicans losing 30 seats in the House in 2006, followed by seven Senate seats and the White House in 2008.
CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter
Brian Stelter’s main focus seems to be slamming his more successful rival, Fox News. Stelter criticized Fox’s coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine, before accusing Fox and Newsmax of trying to downplay the importance of the January 6 Capitol riots.
CNN’s Brian Stelter stated that Fox News hosts “have popularized some dark, damaging, disturbing” ideas about the COVID-19 vaccine, a process they allegedly now continue “by sowing confusion. When I’ve tuned in lately, I’ve heard complaints about triple-masking — three masks! — even though that’s not a real thing.”
NPR also endorsed the idea of wearing three masks. “Masks block contagious droplets that an infected person breathes out. They also offer a measure of protection for a wearer who’s not infected,” wrote NPR’s Rosemary Misdary last November. “So yes, in theory, two is better than one and three is even better, says biosecurity expert Raina MacIntyre, who researches mask effectiveness at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.” Public health officials in the U.S. and Canada now advocate for a three-layer mask.
Still, Stelter took a swipe at the top-rated host in cable news, Tucker Carlson, over accuracy. Stelter claimed Carlson is “scaring his viewers so recklessly” about the COVID-19 vaccine that “maybe he should be writing some junk movie for Netflix or Tubi. Maybe he should go write horror novels for a living. Because he’s clearly not responsible enough to have a show that purports, or pretends, to be news.”
Stelter helped viewers visualize the difference in the cable networks’ competing emphases. A graphic summarizing a report from the service TVEyes.com showed that the term “riot” appeared in CNN transcripts 67 times between May 3-7, while MSNBC used the term 29 times, Fox News used it 28 times, and Newsmax used it 13 times. He did not provide statistics on other potentially partisan terms, such as “insurrection.”
Stelter rendered his viewers a service by noting that both Republican and Democratic administrations attempt to stonewall or spy on the press. He asked Washington Post national security reporter Devlin Barrett about a report that the Justice Department tried to obtain three of his colleagues’ phone records last year. “Does it strike you that it’s the Biden DOJ defending what the Trump DOJ did, and before it was the Trump administration, the Obama DOJ was engaging in this kind of subpoenaing of reporter phone records?” Stelter asked. “In other words, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, when you’re in power, you use that power?” Barrett replied:
One of the things that I think that’s difficult for people to wrap their heads around is, like, while it is true that the Trump did decided [sic] to do this in 2020, this is a thing that happens regardless of who is in power. And it happens – it’s rare. It happens, you know, almost one case a year – sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. But it does happen. And the practice is obviously as big a concern as any particular case.
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