ABC Frets Over Demise of 'Landmark' Immigration Deal; NBC Sees 'Extremes' at Fault

ABC's Charles Gibson fretted Thursday night over the likely impending demise of the “landmark” immigration deal as George Stephanopoulos blamed conservatives and on NBC Chip Reid faulted “extremes on the left and the right.” Gibson teased World News: “Tonight, the landmark compromise on immigration is in big trouble on Capitol Hill. Some Senators saying if we can't pass this, we can't pass anything.” Gibson proceeded to assert that the bill “was considered the best hope for doing something on immigration.” After a story from Jake Tapper on the debate in the Senate, Gibson expressed frustration to George Stephanopoulos: “What's so counterintuitive to me, George, is that a lot of the Senators who think and say most strongly that something has to be done to reform immigration are the ones who are voting for these killer amendments.” Stephanopoulos held conservatives responsible: “They are getting a lot of cross pressures, Charlie, particularly on the conservative side.”

Meanwhile, on the NBC Nightly News, Chip Reid described how Democrats are opposed to the temporary worker program because of how it may take jobs from Americans and Republicans are opposed to what they consider “amnesty” for illegals -- both mainstream views in the two parties. Yet Reid applied an “extreme” tag: “You've got the extremes on the left and the right trying to kill the entire bill, rather than except the provisions they detest.”

The immigration deal has received virtually no broadcast network evening newscast coverage over the past few weeks and the CBS Evening News matched the priority by limiting its coverage to this short item from Katie Couric:

“That compromise immigration bill in the Senate is in trouble tonight. There's a crucial test vote scheduled, and if it fails the bill could be dead, at least for the time being. Supporters spent the day trying to salvage the deal which would tighten the borders while giving millions of illegal immigrants a path towards legal status.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript from the June 7 World News with Charles Gibson on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: Good evening. Many legislators on Capitol Hill agree that something has to be done on the issue of immigration reform, but that's about all they agree on. A proposal put forth three weeks ago to tighten border security, create a guest worker program, and give most of the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship was considered the best hope for doing something on immigration. But ever since, a chorus of objections to the bill have been raised, and tonight it is in very big trouble.

[Story from Jake Tapper]

GIBSON: George, everyone seems to agree that if you can't pass this version of an immigration bill, then nothing's going to pass. Correct?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, IN DC: Oh, Charlie, this is the last chance. There is no question about that. Every day we get closer to the next election means the chances of passing a new immigration bill go down. But, Charlie, just as we were going on the air, I got contacted by two Democratic sources who do say now they believe they're making tentative steps toward working out a deal to proceed tonight.

GIBSON: But what's so counterintuitive to me, George, is that a lot of the Senators who think and say most strongly that something has to be done to reform immigration are the ones who are voting for these killer amendments.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. They are getting a lot of cross pressures, Charlie, particularly on the conservative side. President Bush has seen his approval rating on this issue drop by about 16 points among conservatives over the last couple of weeks. They are hearing a boatload from people back home. They're really getting a lot of complaints about this bill, and they're walking away from the deal.

GIBSON: Now, you say that even in the last few minutes there is an attempt to salvage this in the Senate, but even if they do that, the sledding looks even tougher on the House side, right?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Always has been, Charlie. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has said that they need 60 to 70 Republican votes in order to get this through the House. Right now, sources on both sides -- Republican and Democrat -- agree there are no more than 40 Republican votes for this deal.
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