ABC Berates Bunning's 'Politics of No' for Causing Unemployed to 'Struggle' and Lose Homes

For the second straight night, ABC's World News scolded Senator Jim Bunning for daring to block a $10 billion spending bill until it is offset by cuts elsewhere, parading out victims as Diane Sawyer and Jonathan Karl painted him as a nuisance “even fellow Republicans” – that would be a liberal one – oppose. (After the EST broadcast, news broke that Bunning has agreed to some sort of deal.)

Sawyer thundered in teasing her top story: “Tonight on World News, the 'Politics of No.' For the second straight day, one Senator stymies Congress, unemployed Americans struggle and we track that Senator down again.” Sawyer led:
Good evening. Even his fellow Republicans have asked him to stop, but Republican Senator Jim Bunning still has Congress under blockade. For another day, he's kept thousands of unemployed workers from getting their benefits and forced some highway construction projects to stop.
Karl treated the Senator as a child (“Jim Bunning was at it again today”) before he showcased an “unemployed microbiologist in Texas” who, Karl ludicrously relayed -- just two weekdays after unemployment benefits were stopped -- “says no unemployment check will mean she will have to move out of her house” while “Bret Ingersoll of Denver is an unemployed forklift operator, who has already lost his apartment.” So, “today even fellow Republicans were asking Senator Bunning to relent.” That would be Maine's Susan Collins.

After showing video of himself chasing the elderly Bunning while demanding to know “when will those people begin to see help?”, Karl concluded by asserting that “even as Democrats complain about Bunning's behavior, they are thrilled with the political fallout here, happy to be fighting an unpopular Senator over a bill that's got a lot of popular support.”

And Karl and ABC are happy to advance that storyline favorable to the Democrats.

My Monday night NB posting, “Bunning’s Spending Hold Makes Him a Cad to TV Nets, Focus on His Supposed Victims,” recounted ABC's spin (see linked article for CBS and NBC):
....Teasing World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer stressed how he’s “denying” people unemployment benefits so ABC decided to “confront” him: “One man's stand. A single Senator stops the whole Congress, denying thousands of people unemployment benefits. We confront him to ask why.” Sawyer framed the story around how Bunning is blocking “life support for the unemployed.”

Reporter Jon Karl concentrated on victims as he played video of himself confronting Bunning by an elevator: “We wanted to ask the Senator why he is blocking a vote that would extend unemployment benefits to more than 340,000 Americas, including Brenda Wood, a teacher in Austin, Texas who has been out of work for two years.” That’s not all: “Bunning is also blocking money for highway construction. So across the country today, 41 construction projects ground to a halt, thousands of workers furloughed without pay.”...
From the top of the Tuesday, March 2 World News on ABC:
DIANE SAWYER: Good evening. Even his fellow Republicans have asked him to stop, but Republican Senator Jim Bunning still has Congress under blockade. For another day, he's kept thousands of unemployed workers from getting their benefits and forced some highway construction projects to stop. Yesterday, you may remember the Senator snapped at our Jon Karl who tracked him down. So Jon got his camera and went back again today.

JON KARL: Jim Bunning was at it again today-

SENATOR JIM BUNNING, ON SENATE FLOOR: It's not a filibuster when you object, and that ought to be brought out clearly.

KARL: -still refusing to extend benefits for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans unless Congress comes up with a way to pay for it first. Joung Moon, an unemployed microbiologist in Texas, says no unemployment check will mean she will have to move out of her house.

JOUNG MOON: I don't know what the next step is. So-

KARL: Bret Ingersoll of Denver is an unemployed forklift operator, who has already lost his apartment and is living with friends.

BRET INGERSOLL: Little scared, to tell you the truth. Have you have ever been on the streets? Yeah, it's rough out there. You know what I mean?

KARL: Today, even fellow Republicans were asking Senator Bunning to relent.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLIN, (RINO-ME): I hope that we can act together for the American people.

KARL: Bunning's answer -- still no, unless it's paid for.

BUNNING, ON SENATE FLOOR: I object and let me-

KARL: Yesterday, an angry Senator Bunning refused to answer our questions.

BUNNING TO KARL: Excuse me, this is a Senator-only elevator.

KARL TO BUNNING: Can I come on the elevator?

BUNNING: No.

KARL: Today, we tracked him down again.

KARL, CHASING AFTER BUNNING: How long will this last? When will people expect to see their benefits? How long are you willing to keep this going on?

KARL: Bunning told us he is trying to work out a deal with Democratic leader Harry Reid.

KARL TO BUNNING: Do you think it will be settled today?

BUNNING: Hopefully.

KARL: And are you concerned about how this has played out?

BUNNING: No. No, I'm not concerned, except for the people.

KARL: And when will those people begin to see help?

BUNNING: As soon as possible.

KARL: They're still working on that deal. I am told a deal might be struck by late tonight, but Diane, even as Democrats complain about Bunning's behavior, they are thrilled with the political fallout here, happy to be fighting an unpopular Senator over a bill that's got a lot of popular support.
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