Dan Rather Complains: Republicans 'Demonized' Nancy Pelosi, Turned Her Into a 'Villain'

Ex-CBS broadcaster Dan Rather on Tuesday appeared on MSNBC and lamented the fact that Republicans have turned Nancy Pelosi into a "villain" and "demonized" her. The famous broadcaster also implied that sexism was involved, gesturing to his female co-panelists, "She is from San Francisco. She is a woman." Before being interrupted, he added, "And the three of you can figure out-"

Speaking of sexism, on the June 11, 2007 Morning Joe, Rather attacked Katie Couric, his successor at the CBS Evening News, this way: "The mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ show ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."

Rather on Tuesday opined of Speaker Pelosi: "Ideal villain. And they made a villain of her and they have demonized her from day one. And what was said earlier, what's made it easy for them is she's been so effective. " The CBS journalist couched his analysis by saying he wasn't judging the Republicans' action, suggesting, "This is the way politics are."

Video after the break.

Jansing and Co. Host Chris Jansing complained about the Republican National Committee's Fire Pelosi bus, worrying, "She's been targeted. I mean, they had a Fire Pelosi bus. A MSNBC graphic touted, "RNC Sanctioned 'Fire Pelosi' Bus Tour." Sanctioned? Isn't that what political parties are supposed to do?

Jansing also saw sexism in the GOP attack: "And as a matter of fact, I'm surprised at the number of women who said- people not involved in politics or involved in the news business who think there's an element of sexism involved in this because she's a strong woman."

A transcript of the November 2 segment, which aired at 12:43pm EDT, follows:

CHRIS JANSING: Listen to these numbers. She has been featured in 400 ads that have aired 130,000 times. At least four Democrats have released ads touting their independence from Nancy Pelosi, saying that they won't support her. Why is she such a target, Jonathan?

MSNBC GRAPHIC: POLARIZING PELOSI: RNC Sanctioned "Fire Pelosi" Bus Tour

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Because she's the Speaker of the House, because she's been a very effective Speaker of the House. She passed climate change. Hate crime laws. All sorts of things that the opposition, the Republican Party-

JANSING: Because she's been successful?

CAPEHART: Yes. Because she's been successful and, also, because she's told her members, do what you need to do to get elected. And if that means throwing me under the bus, criticizing me, running ads saying you're not with me, go right ahead. She's more concerned about the numbers.

SABRINA SCHAEFFER (Independent Women's Forum): It's much more than than. I think that, look, the Obama, Reid, Pelosi trifecta ran as moderates and they've governed from the left. And I think that's been alienating to a lot of voters. They're saying you said you were going to be fiscally restrained, that you weren't going to be a tax and spend liberal. But, instead ut we have bailouts. We had stimulus, we had health care overhaul and all of these things don't add up. And on top of that, I think she has spoken down to the American people. Look, she said, Americans will like the health care bill when it is in it. And people don't want to be spoken to like that. They know what was in the bill. They know that they didn't like the government to-

JANSING: She's been targeted, though, Sabrina. She's been targeted. I mean, they had a Fire Pelosi bus.


KAREN FINNEY: I mean, early on, remember, the RNC did an ad when they likened her to the James Bond character Pussy Galore. I mean, they have really defamed her from the beginning. The right wing spin machine has been cranking over time, making her the villain. Because, in campaigns you always want to have, who's the villain and who's the good guy? And Democrats, frankly, should be ashamed of themselves for letting it happen. Because she has been effective.

JANSING: Well, they have not, in many cases, defended her. And as a matter of fact, I'm surprised at the number of women who said- people not involved in politics or involved in the news business who think there's an element of sexism involved in this because she's a strong woman. Do you think that's true?

FINNEY: Absolutely. As a woman, if she was a man, we wouldn't see the attacks that we have seen. And, actually, what I hate about this is she's done a lot for women in particular in terms of legislation from health care with Lilly Ledbetter and she's done a lot for women.

SCHAEFFER: Well, I disagree with that last statement. I mean in terms of a sexism, I think that politics and political arena, yes. Is there some sexism in it? Sure. But, is that why people are angry at Nancy Pelosi for allowing this to happen? No. They're not. It's because they don't like what she stands for. And, look, Lilly Ledbetter is just, legislative candy. That doesn't really help women. The health care overhaul is really going to hurt women and that's what people are responding to.

JANSING: Dan, I think of the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that just came out, the one thing that really struck me was among independent voters, eight percent is Nancy Pelosi's approval rating. I don't know when there's been a number like that. What do you think happened?

DAN RATHER: Well, the number is low. What's happened, the Republicans have been very smart. You can like it or not like it. You do need a villain and Nancy Pelosi for-

JANSING: And they decided early, right?

RATHER: They decided early. She is from San Francisco. She is a woman. And the three of you can figure out-

JANSING: A bastion of the liberal left.

RATHER: A bastion of the liberal left. Ideal villain and they made a villain of her and they have demonized her from day one. And what was said earlier, what's made it easy for them is she's been so effective. One wants to remember, when health care was hanging in the balance, she put it on the line for President Obama. And now she pays the price for that. I'm not saying that she shouldn't. This is the way politics are. The Republicans zeroed in on her. Demonized her and did it effectively, unrelentingly so and winds up with eight percent approval rating.

JANSING: Is this the way politics works? I mean, she was the one that pushed through a lot of the programs that, frankly, folks who are Republicans, folks who are tea partiers, folks disenchanted with the way government is right now, are against. So, was it just smart on it their part?

FINNEY: One of the people who did what she said she was going to do. I mean, you're right, she put it on the line for health care and climate change and that fell aside on the Senate side. So, she stayed true to the agenda. And I want to go back to one thing you said, actually. It was Nancy Pelosi, you should know, that in health care legislation made sure that some of the elements of being a woman would not be considered a pre-existing condition in our ability to get health insurance. So, I think that was actually very important for her to make that corrected.

SCHAEFFER: To respond to your comment about independence. I think it's more important to look at what independents- eight percent support her and maybe it's because, if you at a poll that the Independent Women's Voice did in September, over 80 percent of independents feel that the government is gotten too large. You can't separate that from health care reform.

RATHER: Well, that's a very good point. But, you need a face, you need a face you can attack and the Republicans are masterful at it. I give them credit for it. We should give them credit for it. Whereas, the Democrats tend to want to attack some body of people, corporate America, the Republican Party.

SCHAEFFER: Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin.

RATHER: Don't have a face to attack. With Republicans it's Obama and Pelosi. Two things. They go after them in the same way that in football you want to take out the other team's key player. Take out Tony Romo if you can. If you can get Brett Favre, take him out. You want to take out the key player. Republicans have done a good job of probably taking out Nancy Pelosi.

SCHAEFFER: Well, I think we've taken them out, but also the ideas that they stand for.

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