PBS' Lehrer, MSNBC's Shuster reported Rove's optimism about GOP chances in midterms, failed to note that's his job
Research ››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER
PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer reported without challenge or rebuttal that White House senior political adviser Karl Rove "dismissed Democrats' chances of winning control of Congress." MSNBC's David Shuster similarly reported without challenge that Rove "remain[s] very calm and optimistic about the election." But as CNN's Wolf Blitzer noted, Rove "ha[s] to say that."
During the news summary segment of the October 18 edition of PBS' NewsHour, host Jim Lehrer reported without challenge or rebuttal that White House senior political adviser Karl Rove "dismissed Democrats' chances of winning control of Congress," adding that Rove "told The Washington Times [that] Republicans may lose seats in both the Senate and House, but they will keep their majorities." Similarly, on the October 16 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster reported that Rove "remain[s] very calm and optimistic about the election" despite the recent congressional page scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) and what The New York Times described as an "intensifying corruption inquiry" into Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA). Neither noted that Rove may have no choice but to convey optimism.
By contrast, on the October 18 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, after conservative radio host and CNN contributor William Bennett asserted that "Karl Rove seems to have the confidence ... that the Republicans will hold" their majorities in Congress, CNN host Wolf Blitzer replied: "Doesn't he have to say that, though?" Bennett replied, "Well, he does."
In an October 15 article on Rove's confidence that the GOP will retain control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections, Washington Post staff writer Michael Abramowitz reported that Rove's optimism was the result of a directive from President Bush:
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.
The official White House line of supreme self-assurance comes from the top down. Bush has publicly and privately banished any talk of losing the GOP majorities, in part to squelch any loss of nerve among his legions.
From the October 18 edition of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:
LEHRER: In other news related to the midterm elections, the president's top political aide, Karl Rove, dismissed Democrats' chances of winning control of Congress. He told The Washington Times Republicans may lose seats in both the House and Senate, but they will keep their majorities. In economic news --
From the October 16 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
SHUSTER: The Foley scandal continues to dog the GOP. Today, the House ethics committee heard more testimony about sexually charged contacts with pages. Several witnesses have testified they told Dennis Hastert's office about Foley well before the speaker said he knew anything. Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Curt Weldon is now under investigation for a million dollars' worth of government contracts obtained by his daughter. Today, FBI agents raided the daughter's home. And in a Jack Abramoff bribery probe, new emails released by congressional committees show that Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman, while working at the White House, intervened on Abramoff's behalf. Six months ago, Mehlman suggested that he didn't even know Abramoff.
Despite it all, published reports say President Bush and Karl Rove remain very calm and optimistic about the election. The question is, does the White House know something nobody else does, or is the president heading towards a rude awakening? I'm David Shuster for Hardball.
From the October 18 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Bottom line: Who's going to win on November 7th?
BENNETT: Well, I don't know. Karl Rove seems to have the confidence, Wolf, that the Republicans will hold.
BLITZER: Doesn't he have to say that, though?
BENNETT: Well, he does, but you know, maybe he does know something.