The network morning shows on Tuesday devoted an enormous 20 minutes and 53 seconds to obsessing over a gaffe by a Republican congressman, hyping Todd Akin's comments for nine separate segments. NBC, CBS and ABC touted Democratic efforts to link the gaffe-prone representative to the GOP presidential ticket.
Former Democratic operative turned Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos zeroed in on Akin's comments what constitutes a "legitimate rape." He breathlessly wondered, "We saw the President pounce in the White House briefing room yesterday. How are the Democrats going to try to capitalize on this today?"
Every four years, without fail, the liberal media wring their hands over the influence of pro-lifers on the GOP platform, suggesting that the party is too "extreme" in its position on abortion and hence out of step with middle-of-the-road voters. Of course, the same concern is not expressed regarding the Democrats' position on the same issue being too out-of-step with most Americans.
This year, the row over Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments on rape and abortion are being seized upon as a springboard to attack the party. Witness MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts on today's MSNBC Live.
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed: "Firestorm. A Congressman's words about rape rocket across the country...women's issues are front and center again." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams announced how "suddenly" Republican Todd Akin's comments "exploded well beyond the borders of Missouri."
Correspondent Andrea Mitchell began her report by nationalizing the gaffe made by Akin during a local news interview: "Republicans fear their hopes for the White House and control of the Senate could turn on what happened at a St. Louis TV station..." Mitchell later touted: "In a race where the President had a 15-point advantage with women voters in the last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Republicans were reeling."
CNN's Piers Morgan played right into the hand of the Obama campaign's co-chair on Monday night, casting the fallout from Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) rape remarks as "Romney's worst nightmare."
"Yeah, I think you've hit the nail on the head," Morgan told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) after she delivered her liberal spin tying Akin to Paul Ryan and the GOP. "Now it [the debate] has become Romney's worst nightmare. It's gone right back to the social conservative issues he was so desperate to move off on." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Monday's Hardball compared the Republican vice presidential candidate to a congressman who is under fire for discussing what makes a "legitimate rape." Fineman attacked, "Because Todd Akin is the Paul Ryan of Missouri." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Akin on Sunday was asked about women who get pregnant after being raped. He replied, "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Fineman connected, "What matters is that the views that Todd Akin has espoused and the legislation he's supported is exactly in line with what the perspective Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, believes and supported." Matthews, typically, derided the Republican Party's "right-wing assault on women, this caveman view of the sexes."
Although the Obama/Biden campaign has plenty of gaffes and erroneous statements to answer for from the past five-and-a-half months -- the last presidential press conference was March 6 -- Associated Press White House correspondent Jeff Kuhnhenn opted to toss a softball to President Obama today as he was selected by the president to ask the first question at the chief executive's impromptu session with reporters in the White House press briefing room.
"You are no doubt aware of the comments that Missouri Senate candidate, Republican Todd Akin made on rape and abortion. I wondered if you think those views represent the views of the Republican party in general. They have been denounced by your own rival and other Republicans. Are they an outlier or representative?" Kuhnhenn asked, having obviously answered his own question. [MP3 audio here; video follows page break]
Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd used reports of a Republican congressman skinny dipping during a 2011 trip to Israel to slam the GOP: "...a bunch of freshman House Republicans who came to Washington trying to stop things...create this confrontation with the President over the debt ceiling...created all sorts of economic havoc....they partied, got drunk and one of them went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up Todd by wondering if the actions of Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder on that trip were "a momentary personal embarrassment or does it have worse tidings for the party as a whole?" Todd responded: "This took place two weeks after the paralysis over the debt ceiling. Two weeks after the United States credit rating was downgraded.....It's not exactly what an institution with an approval rating hovering in the teens, on a good day, wants to be showing."
At the top of Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie seized on controversies involving Republican members of Congress and proclaimed: "Hot water....Two distractions for the GOP with the convention now just one week away." Introducing coverage of the incidents, fill-in cost Lester Holt similarly declared: "...some high-profile distractions for the Republican Party. Two congressmen under fire this morning, one for what he did, the other for what he said."
All three morning shows on Monday highlighted gaffes involving two Republican congressmen, touting the "firestorm" that followed a GOP senatorial candidate who discussed "legitimate rape." Both NBC and CBS attempted to link that incident (and one of a congressman swimming naked in the Sea of Galilee) to the Republican presidential ticket.
On CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted "comments made by Missouri Republican Todd Akin [that] have caused a firestorm" and added, "...National Democrats are already seizing on his comments as they try to push the notion that Republicans are out of touch when it comes to women's health." Talking to Chuck Todd, Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie giddily hyped, "But let me ask you the larger question, do you think this will have an effect on the Republican race for president, where the female vote is so important?"