Gibson Frets: 'Liberal Republican Gets Forced Out, What Happened to the Big Tent?'

Following a Monday night look at Tuesday's special election to fill New York's 23rd congressional district seat in which Republican Dede Scozzafava dropped out after falling behind the Democrat and the Conservative Party nominee, ABC anchor Charles Gibson -- instead of wondering why the GOP establishment failed to pick a candidate who upholds basic Republican principles -- delivered the usual liberal media upset over the GOP's lack of a “big tent,” a phrase you never hear when Democrats pick left-wing candidates:
A liberal Republican gets forced out of the race by a more conservative guy who was actually not a Republican, was running on the Conservative ticket. What happened to the big tent in the Republican Party?
John Berman framed the preceding story on the “moderate” Scozzafava “who supports abortion rights and the President’s stimulus plan,” around the premise that going with a conservative candidate will hurt in the long run: “A Republican drops out of a race which might guarantee Republicans keep the seat, which might be bad for the Republican party long term.” Berman concluded with how the conservative candidate, Douglas Hoffman, “says not all views are welcome” as he suggested “there's always boundaries.” To which Berman intoned: “The question for Republicans is will those boundaries become a burden?”

Journalists are certainly trying to make them so.

In between, Berman did at least note “that Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat Bill Owens, sparking I-told-you-so's from the right.” Viewers then heard from Rush Limbaugh: “DeDe Scozzafava is illustrating precisely what moderate Republicans will do.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Monday, November 2 World News with Charles Gibson on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: Now, to politics. There are off-year elections tomorrow. In New Jersey and Virginia, governors will be chosen. Maine has a critical vote on gay marriage. New York City chooses a mayor. But there is nothing to compete with the House of Representatives race in upstate New York which has taken bizarre turn after bizarre turn. John Berman ventured up to Watertown, New York.

JOHN BERMAN: Try to follow this: A Republican drops out of a race which might guarantee Republicans keep the seat, which might be bad for the Republican party longterm.

DOUG HOFFMAN, NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: All along I’ve been fighting for the soul of the Republican party.

BERMAN: Thing is, Douglas Hoffman is not the Republican party nominee. He's a third party candidate who entered the race when New York Republican leaders selected moderate DeDe Scozzafava, who supports abortion rights and the President’s stimulus plan, to fill a seat in a district won by President Obama in 2008.

CLIP OF HOFFMAN AD WITH FEMALE NARRATOR: Tired of choosing between two liberals for Congress?

BERMAN: Scozzafava came under withering attack from the likes of Sarah Palin and national conservative groups who flooded the district with money and volunteers. Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm actually from the Denver, Colorado area.

BERMAN: And this weekend, trailing in the polls, Scozzafava, the handpicked Republican nominee, dropped out of the race. This was Republican candidate Scozzafava’s campaign headquarters, now completely shut down. This after the Republican party and its national campaign committees spent $1 million backing her in this race. Stranger still now that Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat Bill Owens, sparking I-told-you-so’s from the right.
                
RUSH LIMBAUGH: DeDe Scozzafava is illustrating precisely what moderate Republicans will do.

BERMAN: The Republican National Committee is now backing Hoffman, and polls show he may be able to ride the wave of conservative dissent to victory.

FORMER REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA): We need those people. They're going to be a major part of who we are. But they also have to tolerate other points of view.

BERMAN: But Douglas Hoffman says not all views are welcome. The tent can only be so big?

HOFFMAN: Well, isn't that true in life in general? There's always boundaries.

BERMAN: The question for Republicans is will those boundaries become a burden? John Berman, ABC News, Watertown, New York.

GIBSON: And our chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, joins us. George, let's talk about the elections tomorrow and let's start with that House race. A liberal Republican gets forced out of the race by a more conservative guy who was actually not a Republican, was running on the Conservative ticket. What happened to the big tent in the Republican Party?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what Republicans would say, Charles, is that Dede Scozzafava is just stretching those tent poles too far: Pro-gay rights, pro-choice/pro-abortion rights, even had the backing of the Working Families Party, that she really wasn't part of the mainstream of the Republican Party according to those party officials. Democrats say that's a sign that the extremists have taken over the party....
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center