Friday on the “big three” network morning shows from ABC, CBS, and NBC, the trio eagerly touted Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of handicapped Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) over her longtime colleague and Fetterman’s GOP challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Also on the crazy train, two of them insisted Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was in a tough reelection fight and, on another, they brought in a failed Kamala Harris adviser to suggest Democrats are poised for a strong showing in Tuesday’s midterms.
NBC’s Today went the lightest on the midterms, but heaviest on Oprah Winfrey. Co-host Savannah Guthrie teased “a surprise endorsement from Oprah in one of the nation's closest races,” with co-host Craig Melvin adding a few minutes later that it was “a major endorsement.”
Saturday Today co-anchor Peter Alexander also called it “a surprise endorsement,” noting she “gave Oz his start in TV nearly 20 years before the heart surgeon launched his own talk show in 2009.”
“The Oz campaign responding overnight, writing, ‘Dr. Oz loves Oprah and respects the fact that they have different politics. He believes we need more balance and less extremism in Washington,’” he added.
ABC’s Good Morning America had correspondent Eva Pilgrim briefly mention it during a report on the Pennsylvania Senate race: “And overnight, Oprah, who gave Dr. Oz his start in TV and worked with him for years, endorsing his opponent, Fetterman. Now, Fetterman was previously ahead in the polls here, but we have seen that lead diminish as we head towards election day.”
CBS chief campaign and election correspondent Robert Costa touted it on CBS Mornings as one of the “surprises in the works” and “big news.” With Winfrey’s best friend and Democratic donor Gayle King off, it was left up to her co-hosts to marvel. Co-host Tony Dokoupil interjected with a “wow” while co-host Nate Burleson had an “mmmm.”
GMA and Today also set out to question Grassley’s chances at reelection.
On the former, ABC’s chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl said former President Trump was in the Hawkeye State Thursday “to give a boost to Iowa's longtime Senator Chuck Grassley,” with him facing “a tougher-than-expected challenge from Democrat Mike Franken” as “a sign of just how unpredictable these midterms are shaping up to be.”
Shortly after on ABC, however, Karl pivoted to New York with Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) at risk of losing to Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY).
And on NBC, Alexander cited Trump’s rally as proof “Grassley is facing a tough re-election fight in four decades, clinging to a slim lead over Democratic Mike Franken.”
After citing 2020 and “political violence,” Alexander finally conceded Biden has “steer[ed] clear of key battlegrounds out west, instead visiting typically blue strongholds.”
ABC congressional correspondent Rachel Scott surprisingly represented reality, noting that “Republicans really gaining ground in this final stretch” and that Biden has gone into “reliably blue territory” because Democrats really are on “defense.”
Elsewhere on CBS, they aired portions of Costa’s softball interview with Fetterman while campaign and White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe gave admirable coverage to both Rhode Island Republican Allan Fung’s campaign as an example of the GOP’s diverse array of candidates (click “expand”):
FETTERMAN: We have a stark choice between somebody that is here with a career to — that actually served Pennsylvania compared to somebody that's here just to use Pennsylvania.
COSTA: Pennsylvania voters could decide which party takes control of the U.S. Senate.
COSTA: In our interview, John Fetterman contested Republican Mehmet Oz’s claim that he's soft on crime.
FETTERMAN: I'm the only candidate in this race that actually had hands-on kinds of experience against fighting against crime and I made gun violence as — really at the center of my focus.
COSTA: Fetterman, who's recovering from a stroke in May, used a closed captioning during the interview with the stenographer typing out the questions in real time. [TO FETTERMAN] Some voters we've spoken to in recent days say they still have some doubts about your health. What would you say to them to convince them otherwise?
FETTERMAN: I would say we have shown more — and shared more kinds of medical evaluation more than virtually anyone unless you're running for the President. And it's also been a challenge for my family, as well, too.
COSTA: Like most Democrats running this cycle, Fetterman has had to contend with voters dismayed by the high cost of living. [TO FETTERMAN] What do you say to them?
FETTERMAN: What I would say to them is you need a senator that is going to push back against corporate greed and the kind of price gouging as well too.
COSTA: But Fetterman says he’ll be proud to stand alongside the President and former President Barack Obama this weekend.
FETTERMAN: They reject extremism. These are the values that, I think, are the right direction we need to be going about this race.
O’KEEFE: I'm Ed O’Keefe in Rhode Island where GOP control of the Senate isn't on the mind of Allan Fung. He's running to help Republicans retake the House.
ALLAN FUNG: Have a great day now.
O’KEEFE: He's the former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, and the son of Chinese immigrants who grew up in his family's restaurant. Now, he's campaigning on a economic issues.
FUNG: It's a cost of living crisis that's hitting every single individual in Rhode Island, every single business owner on Rhode Island.
O’KEEFE: Fung is running for an open house seat against Seth Magaziner. Republicans are focused on picking up this seat and several others and they’re trying to do it with the most diverse class ever of house Republican candidates. 89 black, Latino, Native American, and Asian contenders across the country.
YESLI VEGA [in campaign ad] [in Spanish]: I’m Yesli Vega and I approve this message.
YESLI VEGA’s FATHER [in campaign ad]: Me too.
O’KEEFE: The GOP is also competing hard for seats across New England. Rhode Island, for example, hasn't elected a Republican to Congress in more than 20 years. Fung knows that’s because the GOP brand is unpopular here and isn't helped by former President Donald Trump.
Later in the show, CBS brought in Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez and the former Harris official Ashley Etienne, but they sure seemed more interested in Etienne’s fantasyland that liberal fear-mongering on America ceasing to exist if Republicans win (click “expand”):
DOKOPUPIL: Democrats want to make it about the future of democracy, democracy is on the line. The polls suggest that the economy is top of mind for voters. Are Democrats doing it wrong?
ETIENNE: Well, I mean, we're hitting on both messages. We're not walking away from the economy at all, but democracy is at stake, I mean, as the President has said. One way to look at this is it's actually working. When you look at early voting happening right now, if people feel like democracy is being threatened, they're going to run out to the polls and that's happening all over in states that matter like Georgia, Ohio, early vote numbers are up. Democrats are feeling very encouraged by that because, you know, the — the larger the turnout, the better it is for Democrats.
ETIENNE: So the idea now is to not just to — to focus more on low propensity voters now that we're turning out high-propensity voters.
ETIENNE: I think democracy is what we should be hitting on.
DOKOUPI: And, Ashley, I was so excited to talk to you that I forgot to give you your due. You are — you were communications director for vice President Kamala Harris and also for Nancy Pelosi.
DOKOUPIL: So, your insights are significant here[.]
BURLESON: Speaking of optimism, we saw the shift this summer from the Democrats having some momentum and now the Republicans. What are the Democrats seeing on the ground that is cause for some optimism?
ETIENNE: Well, I'll just say first let me caution over-investing in polling, right? Polls don't vote. People actually vote.
ETIENNE: There was never a poll in 2016 that ever predicted Donald Trump was going to be the President, so I think we should level set with American people on that issue.
BURLESON: That's true, right.
ETIENNE: But you know, on the ground, as I mentioned earlier, 34 million people are voting, have already early voted. That's good for democracy, that's good from the Democrats’ perspective for the party. So, a lot of optimism enthusiasm on the ground, long lines in Georgia, long lines in Pennsylvania. So we're feeling very encouraged by that.
BURLESON: Now, Ashley, there has been disapproval of President Biden. We've seen —
ETIENNE: Some —
BURLESON: — yeah, some.
ETIENNE: I mean, the President has done — I don't know the number off the top of my head, but he's hit all the major battleground states. So, but here's —
BURLESON: But why is Obama out there?
ETIENNE: Well, because people love and adore Obama, and he's fantastic on the stump.
ETIENNE: Here's the — here’s the point I would like to make -- all races are local, right? And so, when you're the President and you're up — and you’re facing a midterm election, the most important thing for you to do — I'm going to use a sports analogy — is to really set up the assist...[T]he assist is he's established a record that no matter which state or how competitive the races are, there's something you can talk about. You know, the economy's doing better. Record low unemployment. Ten million jobs created. Shots in arms. Veterans' health care, lower health care costs. All of that. So he's kind of equipped the candidates to localize these races in a way that I think we’ll see some surprises.
Friday’s midterms bias touting Oprah and inflating the left’s chances was made possible thanks to advertisers such as Apple (on ABC), Nature’s Bounty (on CBS), and Progressive (on NBC). Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant transcripts from November 4, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC).