ABC Empathizes with White House: Coakley Loss ‘Shakespearean,’ ‘Tragedy of Greek Proportions’

ABC on Monday night again empathized with the Obama White House’s disbelief that they could lose “Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat” -- and thus ObamaCare -- if Republican Scott Brown beats Democrat Martha Coakley in Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts. George Stephanopoulos saw a “Shakespearean” tragedy just over a week after PBS’s Judy Woodruff, on ABC’s This Week, described such a scenario as “a tragedy of Greek proportions.”
 
Stephanopoulos conveyed on Monday’s World News how “Democrats in the White House and Capitol Hill are braced for a shattering loss. And it's really hard for them to wrap their head around it, the idea that...health care reform may be in peril because Democrats can't hold the seat that Teddy Kennedy held for nearly half a century. You know, one White House official summed it up in a single word: ‘Shakespearean.’”

During the roundtable on the January 10 This Week, CNN and NBC veteran Woodruff despaired: “I was just going to say, quoting somebody in the White House, a tragedy of Greek proportions if Ted Kennedy's successor is the one, is the one who was responsible for the death of health care.”

Disappointed ABC anchor Diane Sawyer pleaded to Stephanopoulos Monday evening: “After all these months of fighting for it, and then may be slipping away at the last minute for the White House. But are there options on health care reform? Other ways to go to get a vote?”

The MRC’s Rich Noyes caught this exchange on the Monday, January 18 World News with Diane Sawyer:
DIANE SAWYER: What are they saying in the White House tonight, George?
                        
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Not much they can say, Diane, but Democrats in the White House and Capitol Hill are braced for a shattering loss. And it's really hard for them to wrap their head around it, the idea that John [Berman] just alluded to, that Democrats -- that health care reform may be in peril because Democrats can't hold the seat that Teddy Kennedy held for nearly half a century. You know, one White House official summed it up in a single word: “Shakespearean.”

SAWYER: After all these months of fighting for it, and then may be slipping away at the last minute for the White House. But are there options on health care reform? Other ways to go to get a vote?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, there's only one realistic option, and it's a longshot. The idea that Democrats in the White House and Capitol Hill are working on right now is to convince enough House Democrats to simply pass the bill that passed the Senate, which is not exactly like the House bill -- there are differences in abortion, there are differences in the way that taxation happens -- but the argument to those Democrats will be, to the progressives: "It's never going to get any better than this;" and to the conservatives and moderates who've already taken the tough vote, that they're going to have the worst of both worlds if they get nothing for it.

But, Diane, that is a very long shot. I think most Democrats right now would agree with Congressman Barney Frank, a loyal supporter of the President, who said that health reform in this form is likely dead if Coakley loses.

SAWYER: Dead, period? Or would they revive it later on?

STEPHANOPOULOS: They'll have to go back to the drawing board, try to get something else later on, but the form that basically passed in the House and the Senate, that basic structure, hard to get through.

SAWYER: So much riding on tomorrow for this White House. Thanks to you, George.
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