On Monday, ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News failed to devote a full story to Republican Governor Scott Walker (Wisc.) dropping out of the 2016 presidential campaign with the latter only giving Walker a combined 57 seconds at the beginning and end of a report on Ben Carson’s comments about a hypothetical president who was Muslim.
In addition, the two newscasts reserved more time (two minutes and 57 seconds) for the growing rumors over a possible 2016 campaign by Vice President Joe Biden than they did for a conservative governor who was formerly the GOP front-runner (two minutes and three seconds).
Anchor Scott Pelley introduced a brief soundbite from Walker announcing the suspension of his campaign by explaining that Walker follows former Texas Governor Rick Perry dropping out on September 11 and that he “was a rising star, but he barely registered in the polls after weak performances in the first two debates.”
After a report on Carson’s Muslim comments, chief White House correspondent Major Garrett briefly returned to Walker by mentioning that Florida Senator Marco Rubio had “picked up a top Walker organizer in New Hampshire even before the Wisconsin Governor dropped out.”
Garrett then added before tossing back to Pelley: “Scott, over the weekend, close friends urged Walker to shakeup his top campaign staff, focus on Iowa, and ride out this tough spot. Instead, the Governor stunned his most loyal financial backers and quit.”
Following Garrett, a two-minute-and-five-second segment aired by congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes on the Democratic field with Clinton appearing on Sunday’s Face the Nation and new comments from Biden concerning his thought-process about a presidential run.
ABC was not able to do much better as anchor David Muir and correspondent Tom Llamas devoted one minute and six seconds to Walker. Chalking up the news to being part of a “quickly changing landscape” in the campaign, Muir described Walker as “once considered a serious threat” with Llamas hyping that “Walker’s stunning political free fall [is] coming to an end, his campaign now over, sources saying he just ran out of money.”
Llamas also pointed to his “working class roots and tough stance on unions” as having “made him a Republican favorite” but he instead “withered” and “fumbl[ed] policy questions and failing to catch fire in the debates.”
Leaving Walker behind, Llamas harped on Carson’s Muslim comments and the latest GOP poll numbers after which Muir ran a 52-second brief on Biden speaking out about the presidential rumors to the Catholic magazine America.
In contrast, NBC Nightly News led with Walker’s sudden departure and was the lone network to give it a full story (at one minute and 57 seconds from national correspondent Peter Alexander). Anchor Lester Holt stated at the top of the show that “the crowded Republican field suddenly just got smaller”:
We begin with a story that broke late today in the race for president as the crowded Republican field suddenly just got smaller. This afternoon, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced he’s throwing in the towel and dropping out of the race. The early exit by a man once seen as a formidable contender for the nomination, underscores once again how much of the course of this race has defied the pundits at every turn.
Alexander touted Walker’s decision as having “punctuated a dramatic and humiliated fall for Scott Walker, who hoped his departure would stop Donald Trump” after he “pinn[ed] his hopes” on Iowa and “sank to less than one percent in the recent national poll.” The NBC correspondent continued by summarizing Walker’s resume and three “missteps” in his short-lives campaign:
The Harley-riding 47-year-old, who won three state elections in four years, had been touted as a strong Republican leader tailor-made for the national stage with a personal biography, conservative credentials, and evangelical roots to make him a contender, but Walker’s campaign was hampered by missteps. Early on, comparing his battles against public unions to Islamic militants...suggesting openness for a wall near the Canadian border....and flip flopping on birthright citizenship.
Along with a soundbite from liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne determining that Walker represented “the first victim of Donald Trump,” Alexander followed Garrett’s lead in speculating on who will benefit from Walker’s exit:
And while Walker didn't endorse anyone tonight, there is indications who might benefit. This evening, Marco Rubio's campaign announced one of his top staffers in New Hampshire had joined their team. The other potential beneficiary? Another conservative, Ted Cruz.