ABC's World News on Sunday served as the latest example of media reluctance to label liberal public figures as "liberal" while more freely labeling conservative or moderate public figures as "conservative." During a story on the Democratic party's division on whether to push for a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq, correspondent John Hendren labeled those Democrats who oppose such a timetable as "conservative Democrats," but when discussing Democrats who support a faster withdrawal, he simply referred to them as "those who want to end the war and bring the troops home" or "those favoring immediate withdrawal."
Notably, the congressional Democrat who was featured as a supporter of a timetable, California Representative Lynn Woolsey, has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 4.3 percent. And for the year 2006, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action awarded Woolsey a rating of 95 percent. Tennessee Representative Jim Cooper, who was labeled by Hendren as a "conservative Democrat," received a lifetime rating of 27.3 percent from the American Conservative Union and, for the year 2006, Americans for Democratic Action awarded him an 85 percent rating. (Transcript follows)
Below is a complete transcript of the story from the Sunday March 11 World News on ABC:
Dan Harris: "Also in Washington, Congress is now preparing to consider a controversial bill that would pull American troops out of Iraq by next year. This debate is pitting Democrats against Republicans, and also, Democrats against Democrats. ABC's John Hendren is on Capitol Hill tonight."
John Hendren: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working overtime to find the 218 votes she needs to approve a troop withdrawal next year from a deeply divided Democratic party. It is a major test for the new Speaker. On one side, those who want to end the war and bring the troops home."
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA): "I won't spend another dime, if I had my way, to escalate this war."
Hendren: "On the other side, conservative Democrats who want to continue to fund the troops and resist setting a date for a troop withdrawal from Iraq."
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN): "To put an arbitrary deadline at the end that our troops are going to have to be out of the country on a particular date, that should be set by conditions on the ground, not by conditions in Washington."
Hendren: "The Speaker is pressuring all Democrats to back her plan, to tie $100 billion in emergency war funding to a goal of removing combat troops by August of 2008. And the pressure is showing. In a video clip played over and over on YouTube, Congressman David Obey lost his temper with those favoring immediate withdrawal."
Rep. David Obey (D-WI) clip #1: "I'm the sponsor of the bill that's gonna be on the floor, and that bill ends the war! If that isn't good enough for you, you're smoking something illegal!"
Obey clip #2: "We can't get the votes! You see a magic wand in my pocket?"
Hendren: "Even if Democrats rally behind the Speaker and call for an end to the war, ultimately, it's not likely to matter. Republicans in both Houses are opposed to the measure. And White House spokesman Dan Bartlett today reiterated the President's threat to veto a bill he says would handcuff the generals directing the war."
Hendren: "Democratic leaders, including the Speaker, know that the bill will likely never become law. But they hope that the symbolic value of a measure to bring the troops home might be enough to accelerate the end of the war. John Hendren, ABC News, at the Capitol."