CBS Feigns Concern for How Tea Party Candidates Are Detriment to Republicans

“Up next, why some Republicans are starting to wish the Tea Party was over,” Katie Couric teased Friday night as CBS feigned concern over how Tea Party candidates are too “extreme” to win. CBS News political analyst John Dickerson delivered the usual media warning, just with a new entity to blame for pushing Republicans too far to the right: “The passion that was so important in primaries for Tea Party candidates doesn't play often so well in a general election where you're trying to go after moderate and independent voters.”

Reporter Dean Reynolds cited Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle who “wants to end the federal income tax and Social Security,” so incumbent Democratic Senator Harry Reid “wants to run against her because he believes her extreme views make her easier to beat.” In a North Carolina House race, “the Tea Party's Tim D’Annunzio has a shot at the Republican nomination even though divorce papers called him a ‘messianic drug user’ who worries that ‘a gigantic pyramid will descend on Greenland’ one day” and, even more appalling to CBS, “he recently held what he called ‘a machine gun social.’”

Unmentioned by Reynolds, how Tea Party leaders no longer consider him their candidate. Politico reported on May 27: “After a damaging Charlotte Observer story about D’Annunzio’s past run-ins with the law and alleged drug history, six tea party leaders in the 8th Congressional District are switching their support to D’Annunzio’s opponent.”

CBS’s theme echoed a May 30 Boston Globe article, “Tea Party’s rise could undercut mainstream GOP: Some believe moderates may turn to Democrats.”

From the Friday, June 4 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Mitt Romney was in Arizona today to campaign for his former rival John McCain who's facing a tough primary challenge from a candidate endorsed by the Tea Party. Dean Reynolds now on a political movement that's vocal and voting.

DEAN REYNOLDS: There's no question that the Tea Party has become a potent political force in little over a year. A CBS poll says one in five Americans supports the movement now. Republican Scott Brown's victory in the January Senate election in the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts symbolized Tea Party clout.

SCOTT BROWN, JANUARY 19: Tonight, the independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken!

REYNOLDS: But while Republicans initially welcomed the Tea Party, in recent weeks the embrace may be a bit too close for comfort.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: The passion that was so important in primaries for Tea Party candidates doesn't play often so well in a general election where you're trying to go after moderate and independent voters.

REYNOLDS: Take Nevada, where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considered vulnerable. Establishment Republican Sue Lowden is a in a close race against Tea Party hopeful Sharon Angle to run against Reid.

SHARON ANGLE: When socialism takes over, all they need to do is look here.

REYNOLDS: Angle wants to end the federal income tax and Social Security. Reid wants to run against her because he believes her extreme views make her easier to beat. Tea Party candidates have already expelled prominent Republicans from races in Florida and Utah. And the race in Arizona involving John McCain, no less, and Tea Party opponent J.D. Hayworth has dismayed Republican officials.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: They're not sure that these untested candidates over the long haul are politically savvy and astute enough to win tough general elections.

REYNOLDS: In North Carolina's eighth district, the Tea Party's Tim D’Annunzio has a shot at the Republican nomination even though divorce papers called him a “messianic drug user” who worries that “a gigantic pyramid will descend on Greenland” one day. He recently held what he called “a machine gun social.”

TIM D’ANNUNZIO: We talked about issues and let people shoot fully automatic MP-5 and Uzi submachine guns.

REYNOLDS: In Kentucky, Tea Party favorite Rand Paul defeated the Republican Party establishment choice for the Senate nomination. And then Paul's views on the Constitution and civil rights quickly raised Republican doubts about the Tea Partier's electability. Republicans know that passion and energy are terrific, but they also know that without electability you don't win elections. Dean Reynolds, CBS News, Chicago.
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