NBC Uses Paladino’s ‘Thug’ Behavior to Denounce the ‘Mean Season in Politics’

Advancing the Democratic-liberal effort to discredit Tea Party-favored candidates as unhinged cads, Thursday’s NBC Nightly News elevated a heated exchange, between New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and a reporter, into an excuse to denounce “mean” and “angry” candidates. “The mean season in politics gets nastier with charges of infidelity, something close to a fistfight and they're just getting started,” Brian Williams teased. “Tonight,” he soon relayed, “opponents of the GOP nominee for Governor of New York are saying he behaved like a thug in a piece of videotape that rocketed across the Internet today.”

Reporter Kelly O’Donnell asserted: “Carl Paladino has admitted his own infidelity and then just accused his opponent of cheating with no proof. That's what set off this fight. But the bigger picture,” she intoned, “is how many voters and candidates have been losing their cool. Anger management is not required or even expected this year.”

She proceeded to highlight how “in Maine this week, a candidate for Governor lashed out at the President.” Viewers then saw Web video, promoted by a left-wing blog, of Republican Paul LePage promising an audience: “You're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to 'Go to Hell.'”

In a feint to balance, O’Donnell noted “Democrats, like Congressman Anthony Wiener, have boiled over, too.” She played a clip of Weiner yelling on the House floor in late July: “The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down!” (At the time, however, NBC Nightly News fill-in anchor Ann Curry painted it as an admirable display: “The U.S. House of Representatives erupted in a display of anger and passion that we often don't see.” On ABC, Diane Sawyer hailed him: “Every now and then, someone seems to express the nation's frustration with the endless wrangling and delay in Congress.”)

O’Donnell concluded by castigating Paladino and unnamed others for the lack of proper remorse:


We're seeing that when some of the candidates who show less than civil behavior get called out, they don't give the usual apology or clarification we're accustomed to seeing. Now Paladino, for example, he defended himself, said he was passionate and that he didn't back down at all. So, we're finding that anger itself is enough justification for some.

From the Thursday, September 30 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: With the midterm elections getting close, the increasing noise is making noise tonight. Across the country, the voter anger being channeled by various candidates for office. Tonight, opponents of the GOP nominee for Governor of New York are saying he behaved like a thug in a piece of videotape that rocketed across the Internet today. Our own Kelly O'Donnell is here with us with all of it. Kelly, good evening.

KELLY O'DONNELL: Good evening, Brian. There were nasty accusations flying back and forth in a confrontation that got really personal. That candidate, Carl Paladino, has admitted his own infidelity and then just accused his opponent of cheating with no proof. That's what set off this fight. But the bigger picture is how many voters and candidates have been losing their cool. Anger management is not required or even expected this year.

PALADINO TO FRED DICKER: You're his bird dog.

O'DONNELL: Tea Party Republican Carl Paladino unloaded on a reporter with a list of grievances in his race for New York Governor.

PALADINO, TO DICKER: You send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy.

FRED DICKER, NEW YORK POST: You'll take me out? How are you going to do that?

PALADINO: Watch.

O'DONNELL: Around the country, the usual boundaries keep getting crossed as candidates sound off and act out voters' pent up anger.

PHIL DAVISON, STARK COUNTY, OHIO: I will hit the ground running, come out swinging and end up winning!

O'DONNELL: In Maine this week, a candidate for Governor lashed out at the President.

PAUL LePAGE, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF MAINE, IN WEB VIDEO: You're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying “Governor LePage  tells Obama to 'Go to Hell.'”

O'DONNELL: And Democrats, like Congressman Anthony Wiener, have boiled over, too.

CONGRESSMAN ANTHONY WEINER, ON THE HOUSE FLOOR, IN JULY: The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down! I will not!

O'DONNELL: In this anger fueled political environment-

CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: You know what? It's people whraise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country. We're here to bring this country together, not to divide it.

O'DONNELL: Analysts say voters will choose to ignore some candidates' personal flaws or questionable credentials.

RON BROWNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL: When voters want to make a statement about their discontent, they will cross a lot of hurdles to do it, and there's just no question about that.

O'DONNELL: First-time candidates still get hit with old-school political attacks. In California's tight race for Governor, Republican Meg Whitman has been accused of employing an illegal immigrant in her home. Attorney Gloria Allred says the woman knew she was undocumented. Whitman denies that.

MEG WHITMAN: I think this is a typical political stunt led by Gloria Allred, who does this just about every election cycle.

GLORIA ALLRED: As soon as somebody starts name calling me, I know that, essentially, I've won the argument.

O'DONNELL: Leveraging voter anger may help some outsider candidates win. But can it do the job?

BROWNSTEIN: It's going to be a challenge for many of these outsider candidates to transition to Washington and be effective. Some of them will, and some of them won't.

O'DONNELL:  We're seeing that when some of the candidates who show less than civil behavior get called out, they don't give the usual apology or clarification we're accustomed to seeing. Now Paladino, for example, he defended himself, said he was passionate and that he didn't back down at all. So, we're finding that anger itself is enough justification for some.

WILLIAMS: And we've got well over a month to go yet.
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