Here at NewsBusters, one of our classification categories under Media Bias is "Sudden Respect." The notion is that all a Republican has to do to win praise from the MSM is to bash fellow Republicans or conservatives.
There was a perfect illustration of the phenomenon on today's Morning Joe. In her Republican response to the SOTU, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley counseled Republicans to reject "the siren call of the angriest voices" and urged "welcoming immigrants regardless of race or religion." The shots at Donald Trump and to some extent at Ted Cruz were unmistakeable. Morning Joe loved it. "Welcome to the big stage," enthused Mika Brzezinski. Willie Geist declared Haley a "star." Gushed former CNN CEO Walter Isaacson: "great."
The show then turned its fire on Ann Coulter, who had tweeted "Trump should deport Nikki Haley." Mika accused Ann of "stupidity." But at the end, despite having praised Haley as a "star," Geist injected an element of reason. He approvingly cited Laura Ingraham to the effect that it's not smart to attack the people, Trump and Cruz, who have captured the imagination of almost half the Republican electorate. Mika and Joe Scarborough seconded Willie's notion.
Kudos to Kasie Hunt: rather than jumping on the Coulter/conservative-bashing bandwagon, the MSNBC correspondent fairly reported what was happening, and even observed that "the conversation that we're having right now is a big part of the reason why some of these conservatives are ultimately going to come out."
Watch Haley win Morning Joe's praise. If Haley holds national Republican ambitions, she might think twice about saying things that make her the MSM's darling.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Let's get to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who delivered the official Republican response to President Obama's address. And though she criticized the president's remarks and record she also appeared to speak out against some voices in her own party.
NIKKI HALEY: I'm the proud daughter of Indian immigrants, who reminded my brothers and my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country. Today we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country. At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders, we can't do that. We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration and it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I would say Nikki Haley, welcome to the big stage.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, you know, Willie Geist, this is always the worst gig to get. It's worse than like being a guy that shuffles plates and following the Beatles. It never works out well. Last night, Nikki Haley though, how did she do?
WILLIE GEIST: Nikki Haley is a star. She has been for years and people in the Republican party have known that and now the people in the country knows it.
RICHARD HAASS: What she shows also is that you can be a moderate and if you stand your ground and you carve out the difference between left and right, there's actually a place for you in American politics. I thought every modern Republican and every moderate Democrat should have taken a lesson from her last night.
WALTER ISAACSON: If you ever have to give a response to the State of the Union, watch that one. I remember when Bobby Jindal, my home state governor, did it --
MIKA: Let's not, let's just not go there.
ISAACSON: This speech by Nikki Haley, it felt sincere, you felt it was her, it was great.
MIKA: It was complete. Let's go to Kasie Hunt, because Haley's speech sparked backlash from some on the conservative far right. Jeb Bush offered up praise for her remarks, tweeting that he was proud of her delivering a positive and uplifting response. But noot everyone, Kasie, felt that way.
KASIE HUNT: Not everyone did, Mika. And I got to tell you the conversation that we're having right now is a big part of the reason why some of these conservatives are ultimately going to come out. And I think some of this backlash will keep building. You had Ann Coulter also tweeting about this, saying that Trump should deport Nikki Haley. Laura Ingraham, some other conservative commentators --
MIKA: You've got to be kidding me. What stupidity! I'm sorry: what?
JOE: I'm sorry: what, what, what? Let's keep moving.
MIKA: No, she didn't say that. I'm going to assume that's just a huge mistake.
JOE: Let's keep hearing what everybody else said. What were some of the others?
HUNT: We also had Laura Ingraham tweeting. Look, this is in many ways confined to some of these right-wing talk wing radio types. But this is a lot of what --
JOE: What did Laura Ingraham tweet? I just want to hear a couple more of these.
HUNT: She tweeted about how Van Jones praised the speech and that's everything you need to know about what happened with Nikki Haley. Ann Coulter has clearly been the most aggressive example of this. But there has been some other conversation around it. And some of these people are known as Donald Trump supporters and obviously Nikki Haley had some stuff to say there that alluded to Donald Trump and in many ways her speech represented said what the Republican establishment in Washington is really trying to grapple with right now. I've talked to several Republican lawmakers frankly in recent days who feel like we're reaching the point where this might not be a third party necessarily but that the GOP itself is heading for a real serious reckoning of what the future holds for them. I think a lot of people are starting to be resigned to the idea that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee and that might be a fundamental change for a lot of these guys.
WIILIE: I think Laura, just quickly, Laura Ingraham's comlaint was that it's not smart to attack the two people, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who hold half the vote in some of these primary states. So why are we going after these people that have captured so much of the imagination of our party?
MIKA: That's a good argument.
JOE: Especially when you're giving the Republican response. I can certainly understand that. If you're giving the Republican response, and 50% of the people are being attacked, perceived to be attacked, that does need to be a concern.