Networks Acknowledge (Sort of) How 'Liberals' Will Gain Power in New Congress

After ignoring for months how Democratic control of the House and Senate would put left-wingers in charge of key committees, on Thursday night the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts acknowledged that reality as they sprinkled the “liberal” label in their stories. On Wednesday night, the three newscasts featured interviews with likely House Speaker Nancy Pelolsi (NewsBusters post), but only ABC applied an ideological tag, with Charles Gibson describing her as a “liberal Democrat.” Prompted by Senator George Allen's concession, thus meaning a Democratic takeover of the Senate as well as of the House, the networks looked at the new make-up of Capitol Hill. None, however, mentioned the far-left John Conyers, who has advocated impeaching President Bush, assuming the Chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.

CBS's Sharyl Attkisson noted how "the agenda will be largely set by the powerful congressional committees with some of the longest serving liberals in charge" and she cited how “Republican Tom Davis on Government Reform will be replaced by liberal Democrat Henry Waxman, who's known for tough oversight of corporations and government." On screen, by a picture of Waxman, CBS put a laudatory-sounding quest: “Corporate oversight?”ABC's Jake Tapper stuck only to the Senate as he referred to the "liberal lion, Senator Ted Kennedy" at Health Education and Labor and concluded with how “complicating the Senate math for the President is the fact that seven Democratic Senators are harboring serious presidential ambitions for 2008 -- meaning many of them are going to try to appeal to the party's liberal base." NBC's Chip Reid only managed one liberal label -- “Vermont liberal Pat Leahy” -- as he recited a litany of new House and Senate committee chairmen.

Slightly more about those three November 9 stories:

CBS Evening News:
Sharyl Attkisson recited likely Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage, passing 9/11 Commission recommendations and allowing the government to “negotiate cheaper group drug prices with pharmaceutical companies,” and then observed: “The agenda will be largely set by the powerful congressional committees with some of the longest serving liberals in charge” citing Charles Rangel on Ways and Means and then how “Republican Tom Davis on Government Reform will be replaced by liberal Democrat Henry Waxman, who's known for tough oversight of corporations and government.”
ABC's World News:
Jake Tapper referred to how the "liberal lion, Senator Ted Kennedy" will take charge at the Health Education and Labor Committee. He concluded: “Complicating the Senate math for the President is the fact that seven Democratic Senators are harboring serious presidential ambitions for 2008 -- meaning many of them are going to try to appeal to the party's liberal base. That's a real potential headache for the President."
NBC Nightly News:
Chip Reid only managed one liberal label as he recited a litany of new committee chairman. For instance, he avoided tagging Waxman: “Congressman Henry Waxman is one of the Democrats' most-aggressive investigators, targeting Iraq contractors, especially Halliburton. And as Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee he'll have vast new resources and the power to subpoena witnesses.”

Reid's label: “Other familiar Democratic faces will return to chair major Senate committees, including Vermont liberal Pat Leahy, whose Judiciary will confirm or reject any nominees to the Supreme Court.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center