ABC’s Good Morning America treated last night’s loss of long-time serving Republican Senator Richard Lugar, to the more conservative Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock, as a sad sign of the end of bi-partisanship. In the 7am half-hour of Wednesday’s show, ABC’s Josh Elliott declared Lugar’s loss was an “earthquake of great degree” and eulogized Lugar as a senator who was “well-known for his willingness to reach across party lines.” Later on in the 8am half-hour Elliott called Lugar’s loss “a massive political headline” as he reported: “A long time voice of bipartisanship...has been defeated.”
CNN’s Erin Burnett, on Tuesday night’s edition of Outfront, also cast the Mourdock victory as a bad omen for Washington, as she worried, “So are the only people willing to find the middle ground disappearing from Washington...This is pretty tragic that we have gotten to this point where working together is a negative thing.”
Burnett’s colleague, John Avlon, joined in her hand-wringing as he added: “If you are frustrated with the way Washington isn’t working, with the division and dysfunction this primary is an important reason why. Right now reaching across the aisle to try to solve a problem is a hanging offense in the Republican Party primaries. This RINO-hunting and DINO-hunting is only going to divide us further and to someone like Dick Lugar who's got a record to reach across the aisle that becomes a big bull's eye on his back, we have a problem in America.”
Well before last night’s primary results CBS’s Bob Schieffer, on the May 6 Face the Nation, was concerned about what a Lugar loss would mean for aisle-crossing as he pressed the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan: “Do you think that the Republican Party has moved too far right for its own good? I mean, when you see the situation that’s happened out in Indiana, where Richard Lugar, who’s probably passed more significant legislation than any single member of the Senate right now, I would say-- that I can think of-- he might actually get beat in the primary because they think he’s not conservative enough?”
The reactions to the result in Indiana are just the latest examples of the liberal media flipping out over the Tea Party replacing long-time serving Republican office-holders with more conservative voices.
When Utah Republican Bob Bennett went down to defeat in 2010 the New York Times’ David Brooks, on the May 9, 2010 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, whined: “This is a damn outrage, to be honest...He did something sort of brave by working with Democrats which more Senators should do and now they've been sent a message to him don't do that...Nobody liked the TARP. But we were in a complete economic meltdown and sometimes you have to do terrible things. And we're in a much better economic place because of the TARP. So he bravely cast a vote that nobody wanted to really cast and now he’s losing his career over that. And it's just a damn outrage.”
Not surprisingly, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews probably had the most ridiculous reaction to Tea Party candidates replacing their less conservative opponents, as he compared it to the Stalinist purges in the 1930's. On the April 20, 2010 Hardball, Matthews unleashed the following rant:
Coming up what happens to Republicans who don’t march to the right wing tune? Well they’re getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff...It seems to me we’re getting into something here that I do think is particularly nasty. Chuck says there’s precedence, and there may well be, but here you see a party basically pruning itself. Going around and saying, “Well we really don’t like Arlen Specter. You go find something else to do. Go be a Democrat.” We see this with Charlie Crist perhaps being given the boot. Bob Bennett, a real conservative, getting perhaps the boot out in Utah at some point in this process this year. And then of course John McCain who was the Republican nominee for president last time around. All being treated like, well, you know, like tissue rejection, like “You don't belong here.”
-- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.