The Media vs. the GOP: Intolerant, Anti-Women, and Always Too Conservative

Bad weather may have forced Vice President Joe Biden to skip his plans to make mischief at this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, but Democrats don’t have to worry: the liberal “news” media have been “counter-programming” GOP conventions for decades.

It doesn’t matter whether the nominee is a conservative like Ronald Reagan, or a moderate like John McCain — network reporters always seem to scold the delegates and platform as too conservative, hostile to women, anathema to blacks, and an all-around turn-off to voters.

The Obama campaign’s cynical claim of a GOP “war on women” is just the latest incarnation of a long-running attack theme that the media have helped to perpetuate. Nearly a quarter-century ago, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw lectured GOP vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle: “You’re opposed to abortion in any form. You also have opposed the ERA....Aren’t you going to have a hard time selling Dan Quayle to the women of this country?”

Fast-forward to a couple of days ago, when the media used the Todd Akin controversy to paint the entire GOP as regressive on women’s issues. On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell warned: “If the Republicans thought that they could escape this issue, the party’s platform committee has adopted a strong anti-abortion plank with no exceptions for rape victims.”

The previous morning, CBS’s Norah O’Donnell predicted that she and her colleagues would use the flap to harass Republicans on social issues: “Everybody is going to be asking about Akin, abortion rights, women’s rights, etc., during the Republican convention.”

History shows they would have done that anyway. Going back to the 1988 convention, the MRC has documented how reporters act like Democratic surrogates, lecturing Republican officials and delegates about how they are too far to the right and intolerant.

We’ve pulled some of the better examples to create a five-minute video montage of journalists hitting the GOP during the past six conventions; transcript and source information for each of the quotes can be found below.

“Is there any concern on your part that this ticket might just be a little too conservative? It’s to the right of most Americans in the country right now.”
— CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl interviewing ex-Delaware Governor Pete DuPont during live convention coverage, August 18, 1988.

“This is clearly being seen as a great night for the conservatives. But, the delegates here are much more conservative than the country as a whole. Why do you think this is going to play throughout the country?”
— ABC’s Lynn Sherr to Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran during live convention coverage, August 16, 1988.

“Do you think it’s a cosmetic change, what the Republicans are trying to do down here in New Orleans?”
CBS This Morning co-host Kathleen Sullivan to Dukakis campaign chairman Paul Brountas, August 17, 1988.

Republican consultant Haley Barbour: “The people these people [delegates] represent are majority opinion in the United States.”
Moderator Lesley Stahl: “Well, but how — not on national health, not on women’s issues, not on Equal Rights Amendment, not on abortion.”
— CBS’s Face the Nation, August 14, 1988.

“Do you think the Republican Party has grown, or become, too exclusionary, too intolerant, and that this kind of rhetoric is divisive and counterproductive?”
— Katie Couric to Vice President Dan Quayle, August 19, 1992 Today.

“They [the delegates] were happy today. They got the platform they want. No room for a pregnant woman to make any decision at all, even if she was raped. It’s a platform tough on welfare, tough on taxes and guns and gays and pornography, tough even on public radio and public television.”
— Charles Kuralt during August 17, 1992 CBS Republican convention coverage.

“A lot of people said [there was] just too much red meat there [in the speech]. You gave the impression that if you’re not a white, heterosexual, Christian, anti-abortion, anti-environment, you’re somehow not welcome in the Republican Party.”
— Tom Brokaw to Pat Buchanan, August 18, 1992.

“It was grand TV, well-scripted, well-staged, craftily designed for a broadcast image of tolerance and diversity that’s starkly at odds with reality.”
— ABC’s Jim Wooten talking about Colin Powell’s speech on World News Tonight, August 13, 1996.

“Are you really comfortable in a party where there are a lot of theological imperatives being imposed upon a political platform?”
— Host Bill Moyers to Steve Forbes on MSNBC’s InterNight, July 19, 1996.

“Women have not responded well to a message that at times has been considered too harsh, too mean.”
— ABC’s Michel McQueen on the Republican convention, August 13, 1996 World News Tonight.

“This is a party that is dominated by men and this convention is dominated by men as well....Do you think before tonight they thought very much what happens in America with rape?”
— Tom Brokaw to rape victim and victim-rights advocate Jan Licence after her convention speech, August 13, 1996.

“You and others who are for abortion rights in the Republican Party were frozen out of the platform. What does that say, if anything, about compassionate conservatism and the broad tent?”
— CNN’s Candy Crowley to New York Governor George Pataki during daytime coverage of the GOP convention, July 31, 2000.

“George W. is one thing, but as long as the Republican Party — you noted some of them — is populated by the Pat Buchanans, the Jesse Helmses, the Jerry Falwells, the Bob Barrs, don’t blacks have a right to be suspicious?”
— CBS’s Bryant Gumbel to a panel of black men on the August 2, 2000 Early Show.

“The platform is, again, very strongly pro-life and rejects abortion rights, and the platform specifically comes out against gay unions, and against legal protections based on sexual preferences. So is this really an open, compassionate, tolerant party?”
— Charles Gibson to Lynne Cheney, August 2, 2000 Good Morning America.

“The Republican convention opens in New York to re-nominate George W. Bush and showcase the party’s, quote, ‘moderate side.’ Will voters buy it?”
— Dan Rather opening the August 30, 2004 CBS Evening News.

“The President’s team knows that it can’t get back to the White House by taking only hard right turns, so it has, as three of its featured speakers, Republicans who have been successful by navigating the middle of the road as well the right-hand side....Streetwise New Yorkers may call that the political equivalent of a popular con game in this tough town — three-card monte. But then, that’s a game in which the dealer almost always wins.”
— Tom Brokaw ending the August 29, 2004 NBC Nightly News.

“The platform does not seem to speak to a lot of women in this country. It’s anti-abortion, it does not expand stem cell research; on other social issues in which women have some interest, for example, gay unions, it’s formally opposed to that.”
— NBC’s Tom Brokaw to Senator Susan Collins on his 4pm ET MSNBC show Brokaw in New York, August 31, 2004.

“He hopes to rekindle his year 2000 mantra of compassionate conservatism, a goal his critics say would be a stunning feat given his record of the past three years.”
— Correspondent John Roberts previewing President Bush’s convention speech, September 2, 2004 CBS Evening News.

“The abortion platform here is pretty hard right when it comes to the abortion question — with which you have some disagreement, I think, with the party still.”
— NBC’s David Gregory to ex-New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, MSNBC convention coverage, September 2, 2008.

“Joe Lieberman in his speech to Democrats and independents. Do you think that John McCain can appeal to these voters, especially now that he has a vice presidential nominee who’s conservative and is against abortion rights?”
— Co-host Maggie Rodriguez to Rudy Giuliani on CBS’s The Early Show, September 3, 2008.

“Governor Palin on the record opposes abortion, she opposes gun control, the theory of evolution being taught in schools. Also she disagrees with the belief that global warming is manmade. All of that may thrill Christian conservatives, but why would a feminist Hillary Clinton supporter vote for that ticket?”
— Co-host Bill Weir to a McCain campaign spokesman on Good Morning America, August 31, 2008.