In contrast to their reactions last week to night one of the 2020 DNC, the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC were dismayed, perturbed, and upset by night one of the virtual 2020 RNC, which they deemed a night that was almost entirely “apocalyptic,” “dark,” and thus the opposite of “upbeat and optimistic.”
Along with their reaction to Senator Tim Scott’s speech (which you can read about here), various network personalities were irked by all the “red meat” that focused too much on holding “a base convention,” supporting police, and daring to insist America isn’t a racist country.
ABC senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce fretted two minutes into their coverage that even though the RNC was billed as “optimistic and hopeful,” she had her doubts since Trump’s Monday afternoon speech to delegates was “full of grievances” and “paint[ed] a fairly apocalyptic picture on what will happen if he's not re-elected.”
World News Tonight anchor David Muir concurred, stating a few minutes later that it’ll “be a real test” as to whether the RNC was capable of that.
Predictably, NBC’s journalists were speaking from the same sheet music. Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd kvetched early in the 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour that “it feels like a base convention or disaffected Republicans of who they are trying to talk to because this is not quite as upbeat, not quite my definition of upbeat and optimistic.”
NBC senior Washington correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell was even more blunt and succinct in her disgust: “But so far, so far, at least this night, it has been a lot of red meat, not so much optimism and hope.”
After Donald Trump Jr.’s “aggressive” remarks, Mitchell was triggered, condemning his speech as “really tough” and filled with too many mentions of “the term ‘radical left.’”
Chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel sounded off from Belarus, telling viewers that America’s global standing has suffered serious damage under President Trump: “[T]he United States’s position as a global superpower has declined. He's not trusted by our allies...[H]e's seen as someone who is trying to tear down the very institutions that the United States helped create after World War II.”
Following Nikki Haley’s speech, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos observed that the RNC hadn’t mentioned the case of Jacob Blake, which gave ABC News Live host Linsey Davis an opening to take issue with the McCloskey’s speaking and then Haley saying that “America’s not a racist country” (click “expand”):
And what’s interesting, if I can, I'm just hung up a little bit about Nikki Haley, a comment that she made, “America is not a racist country.” I think that that's a statement that a lot of black people, black and brown people would take umbrage with, including Donald J. Trump. I mean, he said we must put an end to racism. But while we’re talking about what we’re hearing about, we're not hearing about the protests in Wisconsin, where the 29-year-old, Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by police.
[A]nd yet, while we're not hearing about that, we are hearing from the McCloskey’s, the couple in St. Louis that were brandishing their arms against Black Lives Matter protesters. If you look at the numbers, about three percent of Americans, black Americans, say that they think that President Trump is doing a good job with reducing discrimination of blacks in the criminal justice system.
This all echoed the views of ABC’s liberal panelists with Yvette Simpson complaining how she heard the words “Marxist,” “mob,” and “radical said many times and I don’t think most Americans feel that way” about the left and Black Lives Matter.
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) was also disturbed, adding that the RNC appeared headed toward “a really dark spot right now and I think the notion that they're going to offer a more optimistic message has yet to come across at this point and it's therefore failing for what it has to do.”
Over on CBS, their coverage ended with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus debating CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell and former Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas over claims that the coronavirus pandemic was both insufficiently and inaccurately depicted in speeches (click “expand”)
SALINAS: Now we heard Donald Trump, Jr. — did talk about that and said my father made sure that every hospital had PPEE. He called it PP&E. But that is a bit of an inaccuracy because as we know, President Trump told states fend for yourselves, you figure out how to get that PPE on your own, but you are right, I think he — the whole evening left out Latinos and African Americans that have been the most affected by coronavirus.
PRIEBUS: Well, the President interviewed people on the front lines fighting COVID earlier in the 9:00 hour. So I don't think it was completely left out of the program. But just between 10 and 11:00 of your story.
O’DONNELL: But the President's leadership will be judged on his response to COVID, you agree with that.
PRIEBUS: I think it will be judged and I don't necessarily agree that he let the states out on their own and didn't provide any PP&E. I mean, there were — ventilators were put there,
SALINAS: Yeah, eventually they did.
PRIEBUS: — the Navy ship was there, there was no ventilator problem. I mean come on, I think it is a little oversimplification.
O’DONNELL: Governor Hogan has said they were left without federal leadership on the issue when it comes to mask and protective gear.
And near the end of ABC’s coverage, former Bush administration official Sara Fagen stated her support for law enforcement, but admitting she was uncomfortable with it because “there was a lot of it and I'm not certain that's where America is right now.”
Instead, she said, there should have been more focus on coronavirus and the economy.
Night one of the RNC on the broadcast networks was brought to you by advertisers such as Amazon (on ABC), Ancestry (on CBS), Ford (on ABC), Progressive (on NBC), Volkswagen (on NBC), and Walmart (on CBS). Follow the links to the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.