ABC Finds a Republican to Advance Notion That GOP was 'Shellacked'

On Wednesday's GMA, ABC's Jake Tapper spun President Obama's victories during the lame duck Congress as a post-midterm "shellacking" of Republicans: "The President and Democrats...have passed a tax compromise package; repealed 'don't ask, don't tell;' and they stand on the verge of getting the START...treaty ratified. To hear...Senator Lindsey Graham tell it, it's his side that was shellacked."

Anchor George Stephanopoulos trumpeted the "White House winning streak" at the top of the 7 am Eastern hour, and continued that Obama was "poised for a major victory: passage of a nuclear arms treaty, just days after repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' and the tax deal, ending 2010 on a roll. Can it continue next year?"

Seven minutes later, the ABC News anchor picked up where he left off as he introduced Tapper's report: "We're going to move now to Washington, where Congress is wrapping up its business, just in time for Christmas, and the President seems to be on a rebound from the beating he took in the midterm. Jake Tapper's at the White House, and Jake, with the expected passage later today of the START nuclear treaty with Russia, the White House is racking up significant wins."

The correspondent led his report with his use of the "shellacking" term:

George Stephanopoulos, ABC Anchor; & Jake Tapper, ABC Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgTAPPER (voice-over): Remember this from just a few weeks ago?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from November 3, 2010 presidential news conference): I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night.

TAPPER: But who was shellacked? The President and Democrats, in the past few weeks, have passed a tax compromise package; repealed 'don't ask, don't tell;' and they stand on the verge of getting the START nuclear disarmament treaty ratified. To hear Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tell it, it's his side that was shellacked.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (from Fox News Radio's "Kilmeade and Friends"):  This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn't have passed in the new Congress.

Tapper only gave a hint that the Obama administration was being less partisan in their efforts to get the bills passed as he highlighted the apparent bipartisan nature of the victories:

TAPPER: The White House says this was all accomplished by being more bipartisan.

WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN ROBERT GIBBS: I think the President would admit that he spent more time reaching out to Republicans recently than in previous times.

TAPPER: And the President could be playing more negotiator-in-chief soon. When he returns from Hawaii, he intends to hold a bipartisan retreat at Camp David, and White House sources tell ABC News, the President feels there's potential for bipartisan compromise on education reform. Soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner, after all, chaired the House Education Committee that helped write the 'No Child Left Behind' bill- spending cuts and reducing the deficit, which Republicans talk about wanting to tackle, and government reform, like eliminating earmarks and adding transparency. Some observers say a bipartisan 2011 seems possible.

ALVIN FELZENBERG, AUTHOR/PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The door's open a crack now, and as- everyone is leaving Washington, perhaps, with a better sense of the other side, than we saw the past few years.

TAPPER (live): And President Obama hopes to hold a press conference later today, George, after the START vote, in which he'll talk about the bipartisan nature of so many of the successes during the lame duck.

Stephanopoulos did acknowledge that there were potential clouds on the horizon for the Obama administration near the end of the report:


STEPHANOPOULOS: So, there is hope for bipartisan compromise in 2011. But during this lame duck, they weren't able to reach agreement on the budget. There's that 9/11 health responders still held up. Everything dealing with spending seems to be ripe for more clashes, and those fights are going to hit right at the beginning of next year.

TAPPER: That's exactly right. There's going to have to be a vote to raise the debt ceiling in the spring, as well as, of course, the vote on the budget, and there's going to be a lot of fights there about spending cuts- and you're going to see whether or not this spirit of bipartisanship is truly able to move beyond the new year.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center