NBC Advances Democratic Agenda on 'Secret Money' from Rove's 'Network' that Means Return to 'Watergate, Wild West Days'

Thursday's NBC Nightly News led, yes led, with a lame attempt to advance the desperate Democratic spin about the “secret fortune” going into campaign ads leading to “a return to the days before Watergate, Wild West days,” a story anchor Brian Williams touted as containing “exclusive new information,” but which merely passed along stale and vague generalities suggesting some sort of vast right-wing conspiracy in efforts to dare exercise the same unfettered free speech rights practiced by NBC News.
 
“Tonight, we have exclusive new information about the enormous amount of money, a kind of secret fortune that has been flowing into congressional campaigns in these mid-term elections,” Williams ominously announced at the top of his newscast. Reporter Michael Isikoff, fresh from Newsweek, intoned:

In the last couple of weeks, Brian, money, special interest money has been pouring into a network of outside political groups that are really at really unprecedented levels. This is a network, the primary network is being run by Karl Rove....They are expecting to raise $250 million to flood the airwaves in these last few weeks of the election....And here's what's significant, Brian. Most of this money is coming from big fat cat donors, wealthy donors, and it's not being disclosed. Secret money pouring into American elections.

Isikoff continued: “We're seeing is a return to seven-figure donations. Million dollars or more donations, I've been told from Republican fundraising sources, as many as twenty million-dollar plus checks have come in from hedge fund moguls and other big business executives who are very upset with President Obama's policies.”

Williams claimed “everyone” talks “about getting money out of politics.” Isikoff then charged “what a lot of people see is as a return to the days before Watergate, Wild West days, no restrictions, secret money.”
   
On screen as Isikoff cited Karl Rove's nefarious “network,” logos for six groups: American Action Network, American Future Fund, America's Families First Action Fund, Crossroads GPS, Citizens for Strength and Security Action Fund and RevereAmerica.org.

Earlier:

October 5: “With Republican Groups Outspending Democratic Ones, CBS Upset by Speech from 'Outside Groups'”

October 8: “NBC Nightly News Airs Duplicitous Case Against Anti-Democratic Candidate Campaign Ads.”

From the Thursday, October 21 NBC Nightly News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, IN OPENING TEASER: On the broadcast tonight, money and politics and what's different this year. A hidden fortune being funneled into campaigns.

...

WILLIAMS: Good evening. We are just 12 days away now from what could be a game-changing election. And tonight, we have exclusive new information about the enormous amount of money, a kind of secret fortune that has been flowing into congressional campaigns in these mid-term elections. With the story tonight, with us here in our New York studios, our national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff. Michael, first off, how much money are we talking about here?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Very large amounts. In the last couple of weeks, Brian, money, special interest money has been pouring into a network of outside political groups that are really at really unprecedented levels. This is a network, the primary network is being run by Karl Rove, President Bush's, former President Bush's political guru. They are expecting to raise $250 million to flood the airwaves in these last few weeks of the election. That's far more than anybody expected. And here's what's significant, Brian. Most of this money is coming from big fat cat donors, wealthy donors, and it's not being disclosed. Secret money pouring into American elections.

WILLIAMS: How is this able to happen? Why is this new?

ISIKOFF: Right. McCain-Feingold, you remember, that landmark campaign finance law that was supposed to curb the influence of special interest money, the Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that restrictions on political speech are a violation of the First Amendment. It opened the flood gates for a whole bunch of these non-profit groups with names that nobody has ever heard of, voters have no idea who they are, to collect money, collect money as much as they can from big donors. One of the really significant things we're seeing is a return to seven-figure donations. Million dollars or more donations, I've been told from Republican fund-raising sources, as many as twenty-million-dollar plus checks have come in from hedge fund moguls and other big business executives who are very upset with President Obama's policies.

WILLIAMS: And people who hear about this and upset with this, what's the remedy? Everyone likes to talk about getting money out of politics.

ISIKOFF: Right. Well, you know, it really, it's going to depend on how voters react to this. Are they going to be upset at seeing what a lot of people see is as a return to the days before Watergate, Wild West days, no restrictions, secret money. It's going to depend whether voters get upset and whether there's some political scandal that really triggers that.

WILLIAMS: Michael Isikoff with our lead story tonight. Michael, thanks, as always.

— 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