ABC Again Insinuates That ‘Bitterly Polarizing’ Rove Was Behind Swift Boat Ads

According to ABC’s Terry Moran, Karl Rove’s brand of politics can be defined by a mixture of "divisiveness, anger" and "ruthlessness." During a segment on Monday's edition of "Nightline," the co-anchor derided the "era of Karl Rove" as one that exhibited "bitterly polarizing politics."

Moran also left the impression that it was Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush, who was behind the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans For Truth ads against John Kerry:

[File footage from 2004] George W. Bush: "The architect, Karl Rove."

Terry Moran: "That was back in 2004 and President Bush was thanking Rove for planning and executing his reelection strategy. But look around at American politics today and you see that there is much, much more that Karl Rove built."

Clip from Swift Boat Veterans ad: "John Kerry cannot be trusted."

As the MRC’s Brent Baker previously noted, Monday's edition of ABC's "World News" also inaccurately blamed Rove for the Swift Boats commercials, which were actually created by a group of Vietnam veterans and not funded by the White House.

In a tease, Moran began the segment by deriding Rove, who will be leaving the White House at the end of August, as "The Divider" and "The man who made our politics a no-holds barred battlefield..." He went on to quote William Slater, author of "Bush’s Brain," a phase that has become a favorite for liberals as a way to belittle the President. Just before that, however, the ABC anchor ascribed some exceedingly negative traits to Rove’s brand of politics:

Moran: "Divisiveness, anger, ruthlessness. That’s what you might call Rovian politics. Karl Rove didn’t invent Red America vs. Blue America, he exploited it relentlessly."

Wayne Slater (co-author, "Bush’s Brian"): "Karl Rove really approached politics from the very beginning as a game of division, even when George Bush ran as the uniter not the divider, Rove was running a campaign that was designed to divide the field, wedge issues, attacks on opponents, extraordinary political strategies designed to cultivate and motivate just enough voters to win. But in the process, you alienate forces against you."

Moran went on to describe these tactics as "scorched earth." However, while the "Nightline" host added the caveat that Rove "didn’t invent" tough campaigning, has he forgotten the era of Bill Clinton? After all, it was James Carville, a top Democratic operative, who smeared Clinton accuser Paula Jones as trailer park trash. It was Paul Begala, another Clinton aide, who last year slimed Rush Limbaugh as a "drug-addled gasbag."

The subtext of Moran’s piece became very clear with the help of some visuals: At the close of the segment, he wondered if the country has "had enough of [Rove’s] bitterly polarizing politics? Or will the era of Karl Rove continue?" During the "had enough" portion of the sentence, video of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton accompany the audio, when Moran asked if the Karl Rove era will continue, President Bush can be seen. Subtle, Moran is not.

A partial transcript of the August 13 segment, which aired at 11: 35, can be found below:

Terry Moran: "Tonight on Nightline: The Divider. Inspiring awe or anger, scoring historic victories for a polarizing president. The man who made our politics a no-holds barred battlefield, Karl Rove."

Moran: "Good evening. I'm Terry Moran. Well, he may be the most powerful American political figure nobody ever voted for. After more than 30 years as George W. Bush’s right-hand man, the past six and a half in the White House, Karl Rove is calling it quits. He was a political strategist almost without peer and a policymaker in the Bush administration almost without rival, but what Karl Rove really did was shape contemporary American politics by dividing and conquering. Love him or hate him, there is no denying his impact. When it comes to American politics, for better or worse, we have all been living in the era of Karl Rove and no one knows it better than George W. Bush."

George W. Bush: "The architect, Karl Rove."

Moran: "That was back in 2004 and President Bush was thanking Rove for planning and executing his reelection strategy. But look around at American politics today and you see that there is much, much more that Karl Rove built."

Clip from Swift Boat Veterans ad: "John Kerry cannot be trusted."

[Clips from talk shows]

Bill O’Reilly: "He’s the villain. He is the villain in Massachusetts."

Ann Coulter: "The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No."

Moran: "Divisiveness, anger, ruthlessness. That’s what you might call Rovian politics. Karl Rove didn’t invent Red America vs. Blue America, he exploited it relentlessly."

Wayne Slater (co-author, "Bush’s Brian"): "Karl Rove really approached politics from the very beginning as a game of division, even when George Bush ran as the uniter not the divider, Rove was running a campaign that was designed to divide the field, wedge issues, attacks on opponents, extraordinary political strategies designed to cultivate and motivate just enough voters to win. But in the process, you alienate forces against you."

Moran: "Rove's scorched earth style brought Republicans and George W. Bush a string of remarkable victories, but those days are gone."

.....

11:43pm

Donna Brazile (Former Democratic operative) : "I would hope that Democrats are not popping champagne about his departure from Washington because, one, he's not going far. Two, he has the President's number. And I mean, real number. And three, Karl Rove in his heart still wants to win at all costs. So, I suspect that at some point he will re-emerge."

Moran: "But the question now is, has the country had enough of his bitterly polarizing politics? Or will the era of Karl Rove continue?"

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org