This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Tea Party movement, and on Sunday, CBS and NBC did their best to squash its momentum, with CBS’s Face the Nation snubbing the event altogether.
Meet the Press moderator David Gregory hyped how on its anniversary Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had “a message for his party, basically you know be careful how you’re conducting yourself.”
NBC barely spent any time on the anniversary, with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg using the opportunity to slam how the Republican Party is “serially alienating different groups, different constituencies and certainly alienating younger people who have much different attitudes towards it.”
Goldberg then used the failure of Arizona’s SB 1062 to argue that:
I wasn't going to call it a suicide mission. But it seems like a suicide mission if you're trying to be a national party. The one small intervention is you know, in the '50s and '60s, a lot of people used theological arguments to argue against integration. I mean, let's not forget that. That history is not working on their side here.
ABC’s This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos had a much more balanced discussion on the fifth anniversary of the Tea Party, with two conservatives actually having the opportunity to talk about the benefits of the movement. For his part, Stephanopoulos did push the liberal line that “in some ways. establishment Republicans say the party is learning their lessons. That the establishment Republicans are showing great strength against Tea Party challengers this time around.”
Stephanopoulos did concede that Republicans “also look like a party that's going to pick up a lot of seats in the Senate, don't they?” before allowing reporter Cokie Roberts to comment that “The only way they don't take the Senate is if they do screw up with the nominees, and they say things like legitimate rape.”
While ABC did have two liberals, Cokie Roberts and Van Jones on to criticize the Tea Party, National Review’s Rich Lowry and Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger were there to offer positive commentary on the Tea Party movement. Lowry observed how:
This new generation of conservatives who were brought into the senate because of the Tea Party. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, these are people that will have an impact for decades.
It’s strange that CBS, which is usually the least objectionable of the big three networks, chose to completely ignore the Tea Party anniversary, while it was liberal ABC host George Stephanopoulos that actually had real conservatives on to discuss the Tea Party.
See relevant transcripts below.
Meet the Press
March 1, 2014
11:06 a.m. Eastern
DAVID GREGORY: Five years since the Tea Party started and here's Rand Paul, we think of him as a 2016 contender with a message for his party, basically you know be careful how you're conducting yourself. He spoke this week.
RAND PAUL: In order for us to be a bigger party though, we have to reach out to more people. Not just those of us here. It has to be a bigger party. It has to be a bigger movement. There are had times and I don't think it is our movement but there are times when people are using language that shouldn't be used. I recently criticized someone for using some of that language and I'm not going to bring it up, but I will say that we can disagree with the president without calling him names.
GREGORY: Okay. This is as Chuck just said he did call Bill Clinton a sexual predator but aside from that.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: But he wasn't calling names that day. That's different.
GREGORY: It's interesting positioning.
GOLDBERG: It is interesting positioning, but he's fighting again, talking about rear guard action. He's fighting a party -- you asked Marco Rubio himself. The reason he may not be a serious contender is because he's alienated a right wing base on a matter of immense political concern for the future of the Republican Party, bringing in Hispanic voters. I mean, obviously if you're a gay or lesbian person in America and looking at what happened in Arizona, you're thinking maybe that party is not the one for me. I mean, they're serially alienating different groups, different constituencies and certainly alienating younger people who have much different attitudes towards it. One small -- I wasn't going to call it a suicide mission. But it seems like a suicide mission if you're trying to be a national party. The one small intervention is you know, in the '50s and '60s, a lot of people used theological arguments to argue against integration. I mean, let's not forget that. That history is not working on their side here.
This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos
March 2, 2014
10:37 a.m. Eastern
TED CRUZ: I think the Tea Party is the most exciting political development in decades.
STEVE KING: We're going to restore constitutional rights in America.
MICHELLE BACHMANN: We are the adults in the room when it comes to dealing with our budget. That's the Tea Party.
TIM HUELSKAMP: While we're talking about leadership, isn't it high time we retired John Boehner?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of passion there at the Tea Party's fifth birthday party this week. We’re back with the roundtable. So Cokie Roberts, Tea Party turns five this week. You heard the call for John Boehner to go. They have not been successful in that.
COKIE ROBERTS: And John Boehner in some ways I think is stronger than he's been because Congress -- we were talking about this, the government shutdown did affect the Tea Party. They understood that this was not working for them. But they had a five-year anniversary that they liked. And I would look closely at what happens in the primaries coming up to see what their strength is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well that’s what I want to talk about. It does appear there are a lot of Republican primaries. The next one coming up is Texas on Tuesday. And it does appear, Rich Lowry, that in some ways. establishment Republicans say the party is learning their lessons. That the establishment Republicans are showing great strength against Tea Party challengers this time around.
RICH LOWRY: Yeah. I think probably the incumbent who has the most to fear is Thad Cochran down in Mississippi, a long-time appropriator, big-spending Republican. Has a very smooth-talking Tea Party candidate who's a state senator down there to worry about. But a lot of these Tea Party challengers had rough weeks or two. You know, down there in Mississippi, Chris McDaniel, the challenger, got wrapped around the axel on whether he supported Katrina funding or not. You’ve had Matt Bevin, Tea Party challenger to Mitch McConnell get wrapped around the axel on whether he supported T.A.R.P. or not. And opposition to TARP was one of the key pillars of his campaign so far these incumbents are looking pretty safe.
ROBERTS: Except in the House. And that's where you have to look at it. Texas has a big primary coming up this week. And these are safe Republican districts that are empty, where the people have resigned. And so then what you have is a Republican against a Republican, and in those situations, you tend to have the more conservative Republican win.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what difference is that going to make in the House, Congressman Kinzinger? Because it does appear as Cokie was saying, that the Tea Party they wanted a confrontation over the government shutdown. They seemed to have last that. And that seems so far liberated John Boehner and other Republicans to say no more to the Tea Party.
ADAM KINZINGER: Well I think 2013 was probably a low point in terms of House politics in general. And let’s keep in mind this isn't just Republicans doing this. I mean a lot of times democrats will refuse to engage with us on anything. But, the Tea Party brought and brings a lot of energy to the Republican Party. But I think where the difference is the idea of tactics. So you know it’s a very monolithic party. We believe the debt's too high, too much unemployment, smaller government, et cetera. The question is, as a minority position in government, do you shut down the government and compel the other side to action? And when we tried that, I think the American people and even our base saw okay the shutdown idea is not going to work. And I think it’s put, if you look at what we have done even in the first couple of months this year. We have achieved a lot of things that may not have made a ton of news. From the farm bill, a budget deal and everything else. And I think we're on a better path today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And a clean path then Van Jones for the midterms. And to pick up on what Rich Lowry was talking about right there, it does appear that for the most part in these key Senate races, and the Senate control is up for grabs in November, that the Republican nominees will not be as easy targets as they were in 2010 or 2012.
VAN JONES: Darn. Darn. Yeah. In fact -- first, let me just give President Obama a little bit of credit. When he stood up to the Tea Party and said listen we're just not going to do this. He helped to defang the Tea Party, which actually I think helped the Republicans and Boehner. Boehner’s in a stronger position now because Obama refused to go along with the nonsense in the fall. I think that’s probably good for the Republican Party. I think from our point of view, I still don't think the Republican Party looks like a party that’s ready to govern. People want to narrow it down to the Tea Party. This is not just a Tea Party problem, this is a Republican Party problem. They look like the party of obstruction, the party of no and the party of pain.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They also look like a party that's going to pick up a lot of seats in the Senate, don't they?
JONES: We have been banking on them making dumb mistakes. I have been telling Democrats for a long time that because the other guy looks dumb doesn't make you a genius. They are learning. But I still think that the Republican Party, when you look at the overall positions they take, the Republican Party positions are unpopular on minimum wage, unpopular on unemployment, unpopular on a number of issues. I think Democrats have a shot.
ROBERTS: The only way they don't take the Senate is if they do screw up with the nominees, and they say things like legitimate rape. But I think they're working very hard to keep their nominees from doing that. And--
JONES: That’s a huge achievement. And don't shoot themselves in the foot.
ROBERTS: If the democrats get out the presidential year voters. And that's a very difficult thing to do in an off year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Very hard to do.
LOWRY: You know, obviously the Republicans have had some weak Senate candidates, over the last couple of cycles, but they’ve also had some very strong ones. And this new generation of conservatives who were brought into the senate because of the Tea Party. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, these are people that will have an impact for decades. And I want to half or maybe quarter or one-fifth agree with Van, I don't know how to calibrate it. But obstruction was very important to stop the Obama aggrandizement of the state. But a positive agenda in this new phase is really important as well. And that's where I think the most valuable player on the Tea Party right is Mike Lee who recognized that the party has to be bold but has to be constructive and positive.