The networks on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning derided the conservative uprising against ObamaCare, mocking Senator Ted Cruz's "bizarre," "long-winded protest" against funding for the law. This stands in stark contrast to how ABC, CBS and NBC hyped "folk hero" Wendy Davis.
On Wednesday, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos opened the program by needling the "Tea Party senator's all-night marathon fight against the President in a bizarre, blockbuster speech on Capitol Hill." [MP3 audio here.] Reporter Jeff Zeleny, rather than focus on the substance of the arguments from Senator Cruz, gossiped, "He talked about Dr. Seuss. And in the wee night hours, he even invoked the reality show, Duck Dynasty."
The coverage on ABC's World News featured no clips of Cruz (other than him asserting, "I intend to speak in opposition). Instead, the network devoted most of the coverage to the duo of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton speaking, Tuesday, at the Clinton Global Initiative.
Over on NBC's Today, Natalie Morales huffed that it was a "long-winded protest."
NBC, at least, allowed Cruz to explain the substance of his extended speech (technically not a filibuster). Kelly O'Donnell showcased Cruz announcing, "This is life and death...If you vote to give that power to Harry Reid to fund ObamaCare, then you are responsible for it being funded."
However, O'Donnell also heavily hyped Cruz's asides, "As the night wore on, Cruz moved off topic, even referring to the homespun wisdom of TV's Duck Dynasty."
NBC's Nightly News did not find time for clips of Cruz. Instead, O'Donnell gossiped, "As you point out, the Tea Party conservative Ted Cruz is in a talk-a-thon, even though some of his Republican colleagues told him not to do this." She added that "many" Republicans fear "their party could get the blame if this does result in a government shutdown."
CBS This Morning's Charlie Rose talked to moderate Senator Bob Corker over whether there is "room for compromise."
Unlike ABC and (to some degree) NBC, CBS featured more clips of Cruz's substance. Nancy Cordes explained:
NANCY CORDES: The 42-year-old new senator from Texas is a passionate opponent of the President's health care law. As the hours have worn on, he has detailed his concerns.
TED CRUZ: That is forcing so many Americans into part-time work. The most egregious parts of ObamaCare still haven't kicked in yet. This law is a train wreck.
The CBS Evening News described Cruz's speech as a "lonely quest." Cordes noted that some Republicans see it as a "stunt."
In contrast to Cruz, the networks in June fawned over Democrat Wendy Davis's pro-abortion filibuster in Texas, hailing it as "epic" and praising the state senator as a "folk hero."
ABC's Zeleny, who fretted over "firebrand" Cruz, gushed over Davis and her running shoes.
A transcript of the September 25 GMA segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, America. Breaking right now, one Tea Party senator's all-night marathon fight against the President in a bizarre, blockbuster speech on Capitol Hill.
TED CRUZ: I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ted Cruz has been going more than 16 hours. But can he really reverse the President's health care bill?
ABC GRAPHIC: Tea Party Senator's All Night Delay: Cruz Reading Dr. Seuss on Senate Floor
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, let's get right to the Mr. Smith goes to Washington for the Tea Party, happening right now on Capitol Hill. There you see him, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been holding the Senate floor since after two yesterday afternoon, all to show how much he wants to block President Obama's health care law from taking hold next week. And ABC's Jeff Zeleny been tracking it all night long. Good morning, Jeff, you look okay.
JEFF ZELENY: Good morning, George. This freshman firebrand from Texas is really holding an all-night crusade. But this is no ordinary policy debate. He talked about Dr. Seuss. And in the wee night hours, he even invoked the reality show, Duck Dynasty. Let's take a look.
TED CRUZ [Montage]: Most Americans could not give a flying flip about politicians in Washington. Who cares? Almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad hair cuts. I will embarrassingly admit that I took the coward's way out. And so, went and purchased some black tennis shoes. I'm a big fan of eating White Castle burgers. Redneck rule number one, most things can be fixed with duct tape and extension cords. Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. I do not like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-Am.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there they are, the Senator's daughter getting a little good night from their dad from the Senate floor. You have to get creative on these long speeches. But Jeff, we know he's not going to be able to block the President's health care bill from becoming law. Does not have the support for that. But this does increase the chance of a government shutdown on Monday.
ZELENY: It does, George. And largely because time is running out. I mean, this debate from Senator Cruz stretching out all night long, means the vote by the Senate side won't happen until the weekend. The government shutdown could start as early as Tuesday morning. And all of this talking has done nothing to prevent that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not any closer. Okay, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.