NBC Hypes GOP Getting 'Personal' With Clinton, Plays Up the Party's 'Women's Issue'

On Monday's Nightly News, NBC's Brian Williams fretted over "personal" shots at Hillary Clinton from Republicans, and correspondent Andrea Mitchell suggested that the GOP has an ongoing women problem.

"[T]he attacks are already underway in case she [Clinton] joins the race. And it's indeed already getting personal," said Williams, referring to Sen. Rand Paul's remark that Bill Clinton's sex scandal should "complicate his return to the White House as a spouse." Paul wasn't even referring to Hillary, though, and said as much to Meet the Press host David Gregory.

Then in Andrea Mitchell's report, NBC pulled last week's controversial comments from Mike Huckabee and touted that "The women's issue blew up again when Mike Huckabee raised it before the GOP."

Only at the end of her report did Mitchell even note Clinton's "regret" for Benghazi: "Instead of talking about sex, Republican strategists want to attack Clinton on Benghazi, which today she called her biggest regret as secretary of state."

In contrast, the ABC World News began its report on Clinton with her "regret" for Benghazi, and only in the second half of the story did the network discuss her 2016 prospects. "Also, big news tonight about Hillary Clinton. Today, the former secretary of state expressed regret over the tragedy that cost four Americans their lives in Benghazi 16 months ago," reported anchor Diane Sawyer.

In addition to hyping the GOP's "women's issue" on Monday, the Nightly News showed a clear double standard in dealing with two political scandals.

NBC labeled outgoing congressman Trey Radel (Fla.) a Republican while reporting on his misdemeanor cocaine possession, but failed to label former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin a Democrat in reporting his bribery charges.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

NBC
NIGHTLY NEWS
1/27/14
[7:08]

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Back in the country, lots of news about politics. All of it, somewhat unbelievably, about 2016. Hillary Clinton remains at the center of a lot of speculation, and she talked about that speculation today. As we saw this past weekend, the attacks are already underway in case she joins the race. And it's indeed already getting personal. A report on all of that tonight from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

(Video Clip)

ANDREA MITCHELL: Hillary Clinton today in New Orleans, delivering a six-figure speech to 4,000 auto dealers and ducking the 2016 question.

HILLARY CLINTON: I'm not thinking about it. I've tried to get other people not to think about it.

MITCHELL: Possible Republican contenders are sure thinking about it. Even Rand Paul's wife, who told Vogue, "Bill Clinton's behavior was predatory, offensive to women, and should complicate his return to the White House as a spouse. Prompting David Gregory's question on Meet the Press

Sen. RAND PAUL (R-Kent.): Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office, I mean, really, and then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women?

GREGORY: Right, but is that something that Hillary Clinton should be judged on if she were a candidate in 2016?

PAUL: I'm not saying that. This is with regard to the Clintons, and sometimes it's hard to separate one from the other.

MITCHELL: The women's issue blew up again when Mike Huckabee raised it before the GOP.

HUCKABEE: If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system –

MITCHELL: Drawing a quick rebuke from the party chairman.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC chairman: As we look to grow the ranks of our party, we must all be very conscious of tone and choice of words.

MITCHELL: (on camera) Instead of talking about sex, Republican strategists want to attack Clinton on Benghazi, which today she called her biggest regret as secretary of state.

(Voice over) As for Clinton not thinking about 2016, Sunday's New York Times magazine portrayed her as madam Secretary of the Universe, with an interplanetary web of key political contacts, now including Obama's campaign manager, raising money for Clinton, while other Clinton supporters spent the weekend in a state she lost so bitterly to Obama – Iowa. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.

(End Video Clip)

WILLIAMS: Florida Republican congressman Trey Radel has resigned effective tonight. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession a while back after making a purchase from an undercover police officer. The now former House freshman representing Fort Myers faces a year of probation. There will be a special election to fill his seat.

A name from New Orleans' recent past went on trial there today. Ray Nagin, mayor of the city during Katrina, in court on bribery charges. In a 21-count indictment, Nagin is charged with accepting more than $200,000 in bribes in exchange for helping local businesses win city contracts. He is denying any wrongdoing.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014