On Friday, all three broadcast networks read from the same liberal script as hosts and correspondents predicted doom for the Republican Party following Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the race for Speaker of the House. Leading off NBC’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie breathlessly proclaimed: “Congress in chaos. House Republicans racing to find a new speaker this morning. Bitterly divided Republicans now scrambling for a replacement.”
She touted how Democrats were “giddy” over the development and in the report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander lectured: “...Congress facing a staggering to-do list. Just weeks left to pass a spending bill to keep the government open, raise the country's debt limit or face default, and pass a critical bill to repair America's roads. Democrats warned the disarray comes with consequences.”
In a news brief at the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour, Alexander went so far as to describe the news as an “historic implosion.”
At the top of ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos recited the same talking points: “Congress in chaos after the top candidate to replace Speaker John Boehner stuns Washington, drops out of the race.”
In a later report, correspondent Jon Karl declared: “It's chaos on Capitol Hill. Republicans in disarray after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy bowed out of the race for House speaker....The stunning announcement came after McCarthy failed to win over the group of far-right House conservatives who brought down John Boehner.”
CBS This Monring began the same way, with co-host Charlie Rose announcing: “Chaos in the Capitol after a bombshell announcement.”
Moments later, Rose asserted: “Republicans in the House are split in two and scrambling to find the leader. A sudden and unexpected decision on Thursday turned the election of a new House Speaker into chaos.”
Fellow co-host Norah O’Donnell claimed that “Republicans are trying to pull themselves together.” She turned to correspondent Nancy Cordes, who piled on:
McCarthy's announcement was so unexpected that some members were in tears and upset what should be an orderly transition of power descended into turmoil. House Republicans are meeting this morning to try to regroup, but the problem is there aren't that many people who want to lead a party that’s this divided.
Wrapping up the report, Cordes observed: “Speaker Boehner says he will stay on until a new speaker can be chosen but ironically...he stepped down because he was trying to do avoid the very leadership crisis we are now seeing.”
Here are excerpts from the three network morning shows on October 9:
7:02 AM ET
GUTHRIE: First Today's Top Story. It’s this Washington whiplash. Congressional Republicans in turmoil this morning after the man expected to be the next House Speaker, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, dropped out of the running, shocking everyone. Could one former speaker be angling for the job now? NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander has the latest from Capitol Hill. Peter, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos on Capitol Hill; GOP Scrambles as McCarthy Bows Out]
PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. You want to talk about chaos at the capitol. Right now, it is still unclear which Republican will emerge as a unifying figure for the party. But this morning, several high-profile Republican members are strongly urging the former vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, to reconsider, to help preserve the party by throwing his hat in the ring.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER [HOUSE SPEAKER, R-OH]: The Chair declares the House in Recess.
ALEXANDER: It's the question now consuming the Capitol. Who will inherit John Boehner's gavel as House Speaker?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY [HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER, R-CA: I think I shocked some of you, huh?
ALEXANDER: With Kevin McCarthy's stunning decision to pull out of the race, all eyes are focused on Paul Ryan. Ryan has insisted he's not interested. But late Thursday, wouldn't rule out a run.
REP. PAUL RYAN [R-WI]: This is not the time or place, guys.
ALEXANDER: Still, Ryan, Boehner and McCarthy’s top choice, may be the only candidate who could reunite bitterly divided House Republicans.
7:02 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We move to Congress now and that stunning news in the race to lead the House. Republicans reeling after Kevin McCarthy, the top candidate to replace Speaker John Boehner, drops out of the running. ABC's Jon Karl tracking all the fallout. Jon, what a bombshell.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos in Search for House Speaker; McCarthy Withdraws From Speaker Race]
JON KARL: George, this is a complete stunner. The man virtually everybody expected would be the next Speaker of the House is out and Republicans have no clear idea what happens next.
It's chaos on Capitol Hill. Republicans in disarray after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy bowed out of the race for House speaker.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: I think I shocked some of you, huh?
KARL: The stunning announcement came after McCarthy failed to win over the group of far-right House conservatives who brought down John Boehner.
MCCARTHY: I can't unite everybody. It's better to find someone who can.
KARL: Once considered a shoo-in for the top job, McCarthy’s recent stumble on Benghazi helped sink his run.
CBS This Morning
7:03 AM ET
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos in the Capitol; McCarthy Bails on Speaker’s Race Amid GOP Upheaval]
ROSE: Republicans in the House are split in two and scrambling to find the leader. A sudden and unexpected decision on Thursday turned the election of a new House Speaker into chaos.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the front-runner, dropped out of the race to succeed John Boehner. Two other candidates, Jason Chaffetz and Daniel Webster, are still in the running. Former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is saying no to members who are begging him to run for speaker. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill where Republicans are trying to pull themselves together. Nancy, good morning.
NANCY CORDES: Good morning. McCarthy's announcement was so unexpected that some members were in tears and upset what should be an orderly transition of power descended into turmoil. House Republicans are meeting this morning to try to regroup, but the problem is there aren't that many people who want to lead a party that’s this divided.
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN PAUL RYAN (Wisc.): My statement stands. I haven't changed anything.
CORDES: Party leaders are begging Wisconsin's Paul Ryan to run for speaker as the GOP rushes to fill a power vacuum.