ABC's Stephanopoulos Tries to Spin Reid Comparison on GOP and Slavery: It Will 'Blow Over'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos appeared on Tuesday's Good Morning America to spin and minimize Senator Harry Reid's contention that opponents of health care reform are similar to supporters of slavery. After ABC played a truncated version of Reid's quote, Stephanopoulos, hopefully observed, "My guess is this is going to blow over." [Audio available here.]

He did concede to co-host Robin Roberts: "Republicans were just furious about that, Robin." But, ABC didn't show any clips of "furious" Republicans complaining about the harsh attack. Prior to the clip being played, Stephanopoulos, who is rumored to be the next host of Good Morning America, adopted a charitable description of Reid's comparison to slavery: "Boy, the whole Senate floor exploded over [the remarks] yesterday, when Senator Reid went to the floor and tried to rally his Democrats by evoking these great legislative fights of the past."

Evoking great fights of the past? Is that all he did? GMA did not even play the entirety of Reid's venomous comments. The Majority Leader fulminated, "When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn't quite right."

He added, "When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today." ABC featured none of these attacks.

Is this the kind of liberal spin that GMA viewers can look forward to, should the former top aide to Bill Clinton be awarded the co-host position on GMA?

A transcript of the December 8 segment, which aired at 7:16am, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: So, the President focusing on jobs today. All eyes on the Senate today, where lawmakers will continue to debate health care reform as Democrats try to get the bill passed by Christmas. But, two, big issues, abortion and the public insurance operation, are dividing Democrats and could stop the bill in its tracks. Here with the bottom line on all of this is George Stephanopoulos, chief Washington correspondent and host of This Week. Morning, George.


ROBERTS: Battle lines really joined around abortion. And one senator in particular, Ben Nelson, is pivotal. What's at stake here?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he absolutely is. He has got this amendment that would ban, basically, all public funding for abortion coverage. He wants to offer that today. It's going to get a vote. Today, it's unlikely to pass. But then the big question is what will Nelson do if it doesn't pass? Will he vote to block any further consideration of the bill? If he holds on to that line, then the Democrats will have to find a Republican, like Olympia Snowe, to go along with them to get to 60 votes.

ROBERTS: Which could be very hard to do, as you know. What do you make, George, of the controversial comments made by Harry Reid yesterday?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, the whole Senate floor exploded over them yesterday, when Senator Reid went to the floor and tried to rally his Democrats by evoking these great legislative fights of the past.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID: All Republicans can come up with is this: Slow down. Stop everything. Let's start over. You think you've heard the same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, slow down. It's too early. Let's wait. Things aren't bad enough.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Republicans were just furious about that, Robin. My guess is this is going to blow over. The real action now going on behind the scenes in these negotiations over this public health insurance option.

ROBERTS: Oh, yeah. That is another- Yeah, we haven't even talked about that, which is so key, as we've been saying for many months now. And who are the key players in this, George?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Harry Reid has put together a group of ten liberals and moderate senators, the new gang of ten. And their job is to come up with a compromise. They're looking at a few different ideas. One would involve creating a new Office of Personnel Management program, to bring together non-profit plans. Another possible idea would be to open up Medicare to people below the age of 65. Let people at 55, to buy into Medicare or expand Medicaid. All alternatives to the public option. It's unclear if they can come up with the compromise which is create the 60 votes needed to pass.

ROBERTS: And a lot of people anxiously awaiting to see so much. Do you think it could possibly be done by Christmas?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Small chance. I mean, I think it could get through the senate, by Christmas, Robin. Very small chance that the whole bill could get done by Christmas. Although, legislative tacticians are looking at a new idea called the ping-pong. And the ping-pong would mean that if the Senate did come up with a bill, they would send it to the House. There wouldn't be discussions at all. The House would try to pass it right back. If that happens, that could get it done by Christmas. But less than a 10 percent chance that would happen.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.