ABC Fails to ID First Elected Black Senator as a Republican - Beaten by White Democrat
ABC anchor Charles Gibson on Wednesday night had time to convey President Barack Obama's praise of Edward Brooke for "breaking barriers" as the first popularly-elected black U.S. Senator, but not to inform viewers he broke that barrier as a Republican. On NBC, however, David Gregory noted Brooke's party affiliation: "The Massachusetts Republican urged the lawmakers who gathered to congratulate him to put aside partisan differences and work together."
Neither Gibson nor Gregory pointed out that after two terms representing Massachusetts, in 1978 Brooke, a fairly liberal Republican, was challenged and beaten by one of the media's liberal heroes, the late Paul Tsongas - a Democrat who was a white guy.
The CBS Evening News didn't mention the honor for Brooke, which was actually approved more than a year ago.
Gibson announced on the Wednesday, October 28 World News:
And today, President Obama presented former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, the first popularly-elected African-American Senator, with the Congressional Gold Medal. The President called Brooke's life an unlikely journey. He grew up in a segregated neighborhood and served in a segregated army. The President praised Brooke, now 90 years old, for breaking barriers and bridging divides across the country.
On the NBC Nightly News, with Brian Williams in Afghanistan, David Gregory handled the domestic news:
And here in Washington, a high honor for the first black man elected by the popular vote to the U.S. Senate. Edward Brooke, who is now 90 years old, was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal today at a Capitol Hill ceremony. The Massachusetts Republican urged the lawmakers who gathered to congratulate him to put aside partisan differences and work together.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center