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CBS Team Laughs at House GOP 'Cave,' ABC Plays Up Republican Defeat

As the broadcast network morning newscasts on Friday all reported on House Republicans backing down on a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut without extracting additional concessions from Democrats, the CBS team on The Early Show saw humor in the House Republican move as substitute co-anchor Jim Axelrod quipped that "the word of the day in Washington will be 'cave,'" evoking laughter.

As substitute hosts Rebecca Jarvis and Jim Axelrod began the show, they brought aboard correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, and Axelrod posed:

The deal will head off the tax increase that would have been implemented next month for 160 million American workers. Sharyl Attkisson is on Capitol Hill for us this morning with details. Good morning, Sharyl. I guess the word of the day in Washington will be "cave." What's going on?

Jarvis and Attkisson chuckled, while at least one other person could be heard laughing on set.

ABC's Good Morning America went the furthest in describing the move by Speaker Boehner as a defeat for Republicans, even though Senate Republicans had already at least managed to include a requirement that President Obama announce a decision of whether to approve a new pipeline before the 2012 presidential election.

Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos brought aboard correspondent Jonathan Karl and posed: "Congress always goes down to the wire. The holdouts here were the House Republicans, but, for the first time this year, they didn't get what they wanted."

Karl responded:

Yeah, this is a significant moment because, time after time, House Republicans have dug in, they have stared the President down, and they have essentially gotten what they wanted or at least won major concessions from the Democrats.

This time around, they said there was no way they would go along with a temporary extension of that payroll tax cut. They dug in, day after day after day, and, in the end, got nothing to show for it, George, except for several days of really bad publicity, where it looked like they were the ones standing in the way of a tax cut.

And on NBC's Today show, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell concluded by suggesting that House Speaker John Boehner may even be in danger of losing his position:

ANN CURRY: Hey, listen, Kelly, how damaging has this payroll tax controversy been to Speaker Boehner's leadership?

KELLY O'DONNELL: Well, those questions are being asked by especially angry House members who still think they shouldn't have caved on this for a deal. John Boehner has been caught between trying to make a deal early, trying to bridge those divides between dealing with the White House and conservatives. This has been a very tough week for him in his speakership, and there are questions about whether he should even continue in that job. It's been a real challenge to his leadership.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show, and NBC's Today show, from Friday, December 23:


#From ABC's Good Morning America:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But now we have a story of on-time delivery. It's in Washington. Just barely in time for Christmas, Congress and the White House have come together on a plan to prevent a tax increase on 160 million Americans. ABC's Jon Karl joins us again with more on that, and, Jon, and Congress always goes down to the wire. The holdouts here were the House Republicans, but, for the first time this year, they didn't get what they wanted.

JONATHAN KARL: Yeah, this is a significant moment because, time after time, House Republicans have dug in, they have stared the President down,a and they have essentially gotten what they wanted or at least won major concessions from the Democrats.

This time around, they said there was no way they would go along with a temporary extension of that payroll tax cut. They dug in, day after day after day, and, in the end, got nothing to show for it, George, except for several days of really bad publicity, where it looked like they were the ones standing in the way of a tax cut.

#From CBS's The Early Show:

REBECCA JARVIS: And we begin with that news that the end of D.C. deadlock is over, the payroll tax cut, just in time for Christmas. On Thursday, House Republicans bowed to pressure from all sides agreeing to extend that tax cut for two more months.

JIM AXELROD: The deal will head off the tax increase that would have been implemented next month for 160 million American workers. Sharyl Attkisson is on Capitol Hill for us this morning with details. Good morning, Sharyl. I guess the word of the day in Washington will be "cave." What's going on?

#From the Today show:

ANN CURRY: Hey, listen, Kelly, how damaging has this payroll tax controversy been to Speaker Boehner's leadership?

KELLY O'DONNELL: Well, those questions are being asked by especially angry House members who still think they shouldn't have caved on this for a deal. John Boehner has been caught between trying to make a deal early, trying to bridge those divides between dealing with the White House and conservatives. This has been a very tough week for him in his speakership, and there are questions about whether he should even continue in that job. It's been a real challenge to his leadership.

-Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center