On Tuesday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd proclaimed that a series of congressional primary races were evidence "the ongoing family feud between the Tea Party and the establishment wings of the GOP festers." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd detailed how Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell "waged a ruthless campaign" against his Tea Party challenger, then announced: "As tough as Kentucky's been, it's even nastier and more personal in other GOP primaries."
Todd cited Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby, who's "opponents have circulated at 2013 police report which featured her ex-boyfriend accusing Wehby of stalking him." He then highlighted how Mississippi Senator Thad Conchran "has found his bedridden wife now part of the campaign," noting how a "conservative blogger" had "entered a nursing home and photographed Cochran's wife Rose, who suffers from advanced dementia."
A soundbite was featured of University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato declaring: "This would be one of the lowest blows ever in politics, if not the lowest. Just reading about it makes you want to take a shower."
Wrapping up the report, Todd concluded: "It's pretty nasty out there." Guthrie replied: "Yeah, I was going to say, this just in, politics still a nasty business."
After spending an entire segment on GOP nastiness, minutes later, Guthrie conducted a nearly four-minute in-studio interview with Democratic congressional candidate and former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken, who recently won his primary in North Carolina. None of the Republican candidates Todd mentioned were given the same nationally-televised platform.
Tuesday's CBS This Morning offered a full story on the Republican primary race in Kentucky. Like Todd, correspondent Nancy Cordes emphasized GOP divisions:
What this primary shows is how seriously Senate Republicans are now taking their Tea Party challengers after losing a few races to them in the last few election cycles. Senators from the Right need six seats to retake the senate. Many of them believe they would already control the senate if the Tea Party challengers hadn't gone on to lose, in many cases, in the general elections.
ABC's Good Morning America only offered a twenty-seven second news brief on the spate of primaries, with news anchor Amy Robach reporting:
And it's a big day in politics. Voters are deciding key primary races. In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is favored against his Tea Party challenger in Georgia [sic]. And there's a crowded field of candidates vying to succeed retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss, a crucial race for Republicans hoping to take control of the Senate. And in Oregon, we will see if Monica Wehby's Senate campaign is hurt by allegations that she harassed her ex-boyfriend, a claim she denies.
On Monday, GMA spent an entire segment on the charge against Wehby, failing to mention that her ex-boyfriend now fully backs her campaign.
Here is a full transcript of the May 20 report on Today:
7:00 AM ET TEASE:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Super Tuesday 2014. Major races in six states today. Does the Tea Party still wield power in the Republican Party?
7:05 AM ET SEGMENT:
GUTHRIE: Meantime, it is primary day in six states across the country. Voters casting ballots in several heated races that will show who really holds the cards in the Republican Party, among other things. Chuck Todd is NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tea Party Takes On GOP; Six States Battle it Out in "Super Tuesday 2014"]
CHUCK TODD: Well, good morning, Savannah. It is the closest thing we have this year to a Super Tuesday. Voters going to the poll to cast primary ballots. Coast to coast, six states. Most of that action, though, is on the GOP side, where the ongoing family feud between the Tea Party and the establishment wings of the GOP festers. But unlike 2010 and 2012, it appears the establishment has the upper hand on the Tea Party, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Kentucky.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL [R-KY]: Right here in Kentucky, the biggest race in the country.
TODD: In Kentucky, the GOP establishment is set to strike back against the Tea Party today. With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell expected to defeat Matt Bevin.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [CAMPAIGN AD]: Bevin was dishonest about his resume, claiming he graduated from prestigious MIT. Not true.
TODD: McConnell, who has seen past Senate colleagues brought down by the Tea Party, has waged a ruthless campaign to undermine Bevin's credibility.
WOMAN [AD]: Bevin's company failed to pay taxes, then got a taxpayer bailout.
MATT BEVIN: His thirty years worth of name recognition.
TODD: And while Bevin's tried to excite his own Tea Party base, McConnell nabbed the support of Tea Party darling and fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Yet, as tough as Kentucky's been, it's even nastier and more personal in other GOP primaries. Oregon's Senate race features establishment favorite Monica Wehby against Tea Partier Jason Conger. Wehby's opponents have circulated a 2013 police report which featured her ex-boyfriend accusing Wehby of stalking him. That ex-boyfriend has since retracted the claim and is now even helping Wehby's campaign.
In Mississippi, where the GOP primary is still two weeks away, veteran Republican Senator Thad Cochran, in the fight for his political life against conservative state senator Chris McDaniel, has found his bedridden wife now part of the campaign. Police say conservative blogger and avid McDaniel supporter Clayton Thomas Kelly entered a nursing home and photographed Cochran's wife Rose, who suffers from advanced dementia. Police say Kelly later posted that photo online.
LARRY SABATO [UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS]: This would be one of the lowest blows ever in politics, if not the lowest. Just Reading about it makes you want to take a shower.
TODD: So, what's the motivation of focusing on a woman who's been bedridden for fourteen years? Well, for weeks down in Mississippi, a whisper campaign has been waged to imply that Cochran hasn't been faithful or supportive of his bedridden wife. For the record, the McDaniel campaign says it has nothing to do with the incident, but the Cochran campaign believes otherwise. Matt and Savannah, it's pretty nasty out there.
GUTHRIE: Yeah, I was going to say, this just in, politics still a nasty business. Chuck, thank you very much.