PBS NewsHour Slants Story on GOP, 'Too Conservative and Unwilling to Listen'

The defection of Arlen Specter is still drawing stories bashing the Republican Party as too conservative. On Thursday night's NewsHour on PBS, correspondent Kwame Holman announced "Specter's departure from the GOP has reignited the debate over whether the Republican Party has lost ground with the public because it has become too ideologically conservative and unwilling to listen to moderates in its ranks."

The soundbite count was very slanted, with nine snippets of moderates decrying the party's tilt (counting one from the departing Specter, since it's his rationale for party-switching) to just two clips from conservative Sen. Jim DeMint.

Holman suggested the ranks of Senate moderates had shrunk to just the two females from Maine, even as they used "centrist conservative" Lindsey Graham to bolster the Specter narrative.  There were four soundbites from Sen. Susan Collins, two from Sen. Graham, and two from Sen. Olympia Snowe, as Holman touted her New York Times op-ed piece:

HOLMAN: Olympia Snowe of Maine, another Senate GOP moderate, says she was shocked and saddened by Specter's surprise defection, and she blamed her party in a New York Times op-ed the next day, saying, "In my view, the political environment that has made it inhospitable for a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania is a microcosm of a deeper, more pervasive problem that places our party in jeopardy nationwide."

Snowe says the current conservative dominance of the GOP is not consistent with the ideologically diverse party that first elected her to Congress in 1978.

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE, R-Maine: We didn't question each other's credentials. We'd see -- we were Republicans. We're under this one big umbrella. And what can we do to figure it out? But, obviously, if they have this litmus test, it's going to drive a number of people out. I think that is a losing strategy from all perspectives.

Speaking of a "losing strategy," PBS's Holman never discussed how the number of moderate Republicans in Congress diminished -- they were mostly defeated by Democrats in general elections, not by conservatives in primary races. If going toward the center is a winning strategy, doesn't the declining number of moderates offer a counterpoint worth reporting?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis