Nets Quick to Brand Mike Pence as 'Conservative,' No Labels for Potential Dem Veeps

July 14th, 2016 8:57 PM

All three broadcasts evening newscasts on Thursday previewed Donald Trump’s selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, an event originally scheduled for 11am ET on Friday, but now delayed because of the terror attacks in France.

ABC and CBS also showcased Hillary Clinton’s event with potential running mate Senator Tim Kaine in Kaine’s home state of Virginia, but while all three networks employed religious and/or ideological tags to describe Governor Pence, there were no references to Kaine’s liberalism — only how he’s “fluent” in Spanish and how Hillary Clinton “loved it.”

CBS was the most emphatic in branding Pence a conservative. Correspondent Major Garrett pointed out that Pence was picked to “bring staunch conservatism... to the ticket,” had “carved out a record of social and economic conservatism” in Congress, and had “long-standing ties with the Koch brothers, wealthy conservative donors.”

For good measure, Garrett also was the only broadcast reporter Thursday night to point out how Pence had come “under fire” for his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, but did not provide any ideological characterization of Pence’s critics as left or liberal.

If viewers were still unsure of where Pence stood, CBS’s John Dickerson underscored the point again the next segment: “He has strong ties to the social conservative part of the Republican Party....”

But a few minutes later, CBS’s Nancy Cordes had no ideological labels as she ticked off five potential Hillary Clinton running mates, starting with Kaine’s credentials:

NANCY CORDES: Clinton held her own VP tryout today for Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in his home state....Kaine's resume has propelled him onto Clinton's short list: He's the former Governor of a battleground state, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he speaks fluent Spanish.

Still, he faces stiff competition from some of his Senate colleague, all of whom met with Clinton at the Capitol today. The tight-lipped bunch included Ohio's Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, New Jersey's Cory Booker and Vermont's Bernie Sanders, who got a standing ovation in the closed-door meeting after endorsing Clinton earlier this week.

On ABC, correspondent Tom Llamas made no ideological statements about Pence, but tagged him as a religious ex-talk radio host: “Pence is a 57-year-old born-again Christian, a first-term governor, and a congressman for 12 years — also, a former radio and television talk show host.”

When reporter Cecilia Vega got to Kaine, she — like CBS’s Cordes — made no reference to the Democrat’s liberalism, but touted Clinton’s admiration of his Spanish skills:

CECILIA VEGA: Hillary Clinton with a VP audition of her own today, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, his Spanish speaking skills on display, and Clinton loving it.
HILLARY CLINTON: I really loved what Tim said.

On NBC, correspondent Katy Tur described Pence as “an evangelical Christian with ties to the grassroots” who rode “the Tea Party wave to Indiana's governorship.”

A few minutes later, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd employed an ideological label to suggest Pence would help calm the GOP convention: “making social conservatives happy probably means a happier convention in Cleveland next week.”

Here are more detailed transcripts of how the networks covered Pence’s pending selection as Trump’s running mate Thursday night, starting with CBS. To make the point more clearly, I’ve put all of the ideological labels in ALL CAPS.

# CBS Evening News, July 14

MAJOR GARRETT: Donald Trump spoke with Mike Pence last night and again today as he settled on the Indiana governor to bring STAUNCH CONSERVATISM and a low-key personality to the ticket. The 57-year-old Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, and has a law degree from Indiana University. He served six terms in Congress and carved out a record of SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONSERVATISM that Tea Party Republicans fancied long before they became a force within the GOP.


GARRETT: Pence has not been touched by scandal as a member of Congress or as Governor, but he did come under fire for a bill that allowed businesses to deny services based on their religious beliefs. After swift opposition around the country, Pence had the law redrafted.


GARRETT: Pence and those close to him have close and long-standing ties with the Koch brothers, wealthy CONSERVATIVE donors who have shied away from the Trump campaign. Scott, there is no guarantee Pence can change the Koch brothers' minds, but at least he creates that opportunity.


JOHN DICKERSON: Well, he is not of Washington, but he has some Washington experience, and Donald Trump said he wanted to pick somebody who could help him actually get something done in Washington. He has strong ties to the SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE part of the Republican Party, so he helps Trump cinch up that unity, which is part of what he's trying to do here at the convention....

# ABC World News Tonight, July 14:

TOM LLAMAS: Pence is a 57-year-old born-again Christian, a first-term governor, and a congressman for 12 years — also, a former radio and television talk show host. Trump hopes he'll reassure skeptical Republicans....

# NBC Nightly News, July 14:

KATY TUR: Donald Trump said he wanted somebody with legislative experience. For many, that's Pence, an evangelical Christian with ties to the grassroots —  a known quantity in Washington, like Trump says he's looking for. The former congressman from rural Indiana rose to one of the highest House GOP leadership positions, riding the Tea Party wave to Indiana's governorship in 2013.


CHUCK TODD: At the end of the day, though, one thing Mike Pence brings is calm at this convention. Don't underrate that aspect of the Pence pick: making SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES happy probably means a happier convention in Cleveland next week.

Tell the Truth 2016