The Today show, which is a four hour program, on Wednesday devoted a scant 43 seconds of air time to a surprising loss by Democrats in a New York special congressional election. Both CBS and ABC offered more expansive coverage.
ABC's Good Morning America saw the election of Republican Bob Turner as a "stunning upset." Referencing another GOP win in Nevada, host George Stephanopoulos surprisingly speculated, "Landslide victories for Republicans in two key races. Could these early wins spell big trouble for President Obama?"
Reporter Jon Karl explained the scope of the defeat for the Democrats: "This is an election jolt for Democrats and the President. In New York City, Republicans scored a decisive victory in a district that hasn't sent a Republican to Congress since 1920."
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GMA again featured the story in the 8am hour. News anchor Josh Elliott labeled the loss a "political shocker."
Over on CBS's Early Show, Nancy Cordes pointed out, "President Obama won the district by 11 points back in 2008, but he was polling very poorly in the past few weeks there." She also noted that 40 percent of the district is Jewish and that this group isn't happy with the President's handling of Israel.
The Today show could only manage two news briefs totaling just 43 seconds. In the first, Natalie Morales described the election as, simply, an "upset victory." She added that "analysts believe frustration with the national economy and President Obama gave Republicans the edge."
In the second short story, Morales became slightly more descriptive, allowing that there are "political shock waves this morning in New York."
A transcript of the September 14 GMA segment can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And breaking overnight, stunning upsets. Landslide victories for Republicans in two key races. Could these early wins spell big trouble for President Obama?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But we're going to begin this morning with two special election defeats for the Democrats and President Obama. The biggest surprise, right here in New York where Republicans picked up the congressional seat held by Anthony Weiner. You might remember, he was forced to resign after that sexting scandal broke this summer. ABC's Jon Karl joins us with more. Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL: Good morning, George. This is an election jolt for Democrats and the President. In New York City, Republicans scored a decisive victory in a district that hasn't sent a Republican to Congress since 1920. Republican Bob Turner scored an improbable victory in the heart of Democratic New York City.
BOB TURNER: It is people like me who got off their couch and said, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
KARL: Turner is best known as the creator of Jerry Springer Show and is a newcomer to politics. But the shockwaves from his victory extend far beyond Brooklyn and Queens. Democrat David Weprin lost because in no small part of how unpopular President Obama is, even here in a district he won by double digits in 2008. Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, crossed party lines to support the Republican, saying he wanted to send President Obama a message.
ED KOCH (Former NYC mayor): Mr. President, listen to us!
KARL: Some of New York's biggest named Democrats held the seat over the years, including Chuck Schumer, Geraldine Ferraro, and most recently Anthony Weiner, who resigned in disgrace in June after sending inappropriate photos of himself to women on Twitter. And Republicans prevailed in the only other special congressional election last night, scoring a victory in Nevada by a 22 point landslide. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Huge. Now, Democrats say that was a district held by Republicans in the last election. But this New York seat, Jon, this is troublesome for them. And it could smell trouble for the president, you say beyond New York, especially because it shows some weakness among Jewish voters?
KARL: Yeah. Absolutely. And, of course, Jewish voters are key in Florida, as well. This a district that the President had won by double-digits in 2008. One point on that Nevada race, Republicans were expected to win. But nobody predicted it would be a 22-point blowout and that's a state that's critical to the President's re-election, as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's hard to win a congressional seat by 22 points. You're right. Okay, Jon Karl, thank you very much.
JOSH ELLIOTT: We're going to begin with a political shocker, a wake-up call for the White House and Democrats across the country. For the first time in 90 years, a Republican has won the New York congressional seat vacated by Anthony Weiner. Political novice Bob Turner pulled off the upset in a special election. Republicans are also actually celebrating in Nevada where they won a special election by some 22 points.