ABC & CBS Exploit Senate Race They Obsess Over to Regurgitate Ridicule for Palin

Airing rare stories on a U.S. Senate debate, ABC, CBS and NBC all ran full reports Thursday night on the only race they repeatedly find newsworthy, one in which the Republican is behind by double-digits, as ABC and CBS exploited the Delaware debate to regurgitate ridicule for Sarah Palin.

“[Christine] O'Donnell's toughest moment came when she was asked to name a recent Supreme Court decision with which she disagreed,” asserted CBS's Nancy Cordes, “a question that also tripped up her mentor, Sarah Palin,” back in 2008. On ABC, Jonathan Karl echoed how “O'Donnell got tripped up when asked to name a Supreme Court decision she disagrees with,” which Karl called “a flashback to 2008 when another candidate got asked the same question.”

Katie Couric's intro undermined the justification for her newscast's focus as she painted the contest as uncompetitive: “ There was a time Republicans thought they had a good chance to take back the Delaware Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. That was before Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell won the GOP nomination, becoming a national celebrity, but trailing badly in the polls.”

The NBC Nightly News managed to avoid highlighting O'Donnell's inability to name a specific court decision and thus didn't resurrect Palin, but still considered this particular debate worthy of a full story. Brian Williams announced his top political report:

Now back in this country, we turn to politics and we begin tonight in the state of Delaware where there have been two debates in less than 24 hours between the Tea Party favorite and Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, and her Democratic Party opponent, Chris Coons. They went at each other over everything from taxes to late-night television. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell following the race tonight from Wilmington.

From the start on Jonathan Karl's piece on the Thursday, October 14 ABC World News:   

JONATHAN KARL: O'Donnell got tripped up when asked to name a Supreme Court decision she disagrees with.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, IN DEBATE: Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one, I'm sorry.

MODERATOR: Actually, I can't because the, I need you to tell me which ones you object to.

O'DONNELL, IN DEBATE: I'm very sorry, right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot. But I'll put it up on my Web site.

KARL: It was a flashback to 2008 when another candidate got asked the same question.

SARAH PALIN, ON THE CBS EVENING NEWS, OCTOBER 1, 2008: Well, let's see. There's-

CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Turning now to Campaign 2010, there was a time Republicans thought they had a good chance to take back the Delaware Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. That was before Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell won the GOP nomination, becoming a national celebrity, but trailing badly in the polls.

....

NANCY CORDES: O'Donnell's toughest moment came when she was asked to name a recent Supreme Court decision with which she disagreed.

O'DONNELL, IN DEABTE: Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one. I'm sorry.

CORDES: A question that also tripped up her mentor, Sarah Palin.

KATIE COURIC, IN 2008: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

SARAH PALIN, IN 2008: Hmmm. Well.

CORDES: O'Donnell said later that the reason she had such a hard time answering that question is that she actually agrees with so many decisions handed down by a Supreme Court that's led by a conservative Chief Justice, John Roberts.

— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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