Just days after the Democratic Party released a national security plan, CNN host Wolf Blitzer and NBC Today host Matt Lauer simply ignored the release and allowed -- and even encouraged -- Republican guests to suggest the Democrats have no "agenda." This continues patterns by CNN and Today of largely ignoring the Democrats' security plan, despite repeatedly reporting or commenting on the Democratic Party's purported lack of clear alternatives to the Republicans.
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Just days after the Democratic Party released a national security plan, CNN host Wolf Blitzer and NBC host Matt Lauer simply ignored the release and allowed -- and even encouraged -- Republican guests to suggest the Democrats have no "agenda." During an April 4 interview on CNN's Situation Room with Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), who recently announced that he is resigning from Congress and abandoning his re-election bid, Blitzer left unchallenged DeLay's claim that "[t]he Democrats have no agenda. They have no ideas. They have no solutions." Similarly, during an April 4 interview with former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan on NBC's Today, Lauer asked Buchanan: "What is their [the Democrats] agenda, other than pouncing on Tom DeLay?" Predictably, Buchanan replied that the Democrat's "don't have a really positive, attractive agenda," and asserted their only positions are to "censure Bush and raise taxes." According to a Nexis database search, Today hasn't covered the Democrats' security proposal even once; as Media Matters for America has previously noted, CNN also largely ignored the Democrats' security platform when it was released, despite repeatedly reporting or commenting on the Democratic Party's purported lack of clear alternatives to the Republicans.
In the early afternoon on March 29, the Democrats held a 40-minute press conference announcing the release of their new national security agenda, "Real Security: Protecting America and Restoring Our Leadership in the World." The proposals include screening 100 percent of containers and cargo entering the United States, boosting the size of the U.S. Special Forces and National Guard, ensuring that troops have better body armor, providing more resources to first responders, and allotting greater funding for veterans benefits.
Blitzer's failure to mention the Democratic security platform was consistent with CNN's scant coverage of the Democrats' plan when it was announced on March 29. As Media Matters previously noted, over the past year, CNN hosts, anchors, and reporters have repeatedly commented on the Democratic Party's purported lack of a clear plan or concrete set of alternatives on issues ranging from Social Security to the war in Iraq. Blitzer himself has repeatedly referenced a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll that found that 70 percent of Americans believe Democrats have no clear plan for Iraq. "The Democrats seem to be all over the place," he said on one occasion after reading the poll numbers. But on the day that Democratic leaders announced a broad national security strategy, CNN barely covered this development, instead devoting an hour and a half of uninterrupted coverage to a speech by President Bush on Iraq, his third such speech in two weeks. Moreover, when CNN finally reported on the Democrats' national security plan, it omitted any details about the proposals put forth by the congressional leaders.
Similarly, a Nexis search of Today transcripts found that Today failed completely to report on the Democrats' national security proposals, and Lauer repeated the failure by suggesting that the Democrat's agenda consists of "pouncing on Tom DeLay." The day after the Democrats' announcement, Today addressed subjects such as the following: how to find the "perfect white pants," Major League Baseball's intention to launch an investigation into steroid abuse, and the history of Grace Kelly's wedding dress.
Media Matters has previously documented the broader pattern in the media of giving scant attention to Democratic proposals, while simultaneously asserting that Democrats lack ideas.
From the April 5 broadcast of NBC's Today:
LAUER: Isn't it different, except for this too, back in 1994, the Republicans capitalized with a bold idea. They had Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. And, so the question is, what are the Democrats putting forward now? What is their agenda, other than pouncing on Tom DeLay?
BUCHANAN: Their agenda is censure the president and raise taxes. They don't have a really positive, attractive agenda. And that's the one hope the Republican Party has got, Matt. They make it not a referendum on the president or how we've done, but a contest between red and blue. Do you want taxes down or do you want the president censured? That's the only way the Republican Party can come back. I think they are in real trouble. If the election were held now, they would certainly lose the House, but I think they have got a chance. And frankly, the president is a fighter, and he's a good campaigner. This isn't gonna be a 10-point difference by the fall.
From the April 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Some of your critics already have come out, and you know this quite well, and they say there are other reasons in effect right now; that the timing of your decision coming on the heels of a couple of your former top aides pleading guilty and now cooperating with federal prosecutors in this expanding lobbying investigation involving Jack Abramoff; that, that may have had a role to play in your decision to step down.
DeLAY: I made this decision before I even knew that [former aide] Tony Rudy was going to plead guilty. Those are people that believe in the politics of personal destruction. They've been trying to destroy my reputation for 10 years. They're trying to criminalize politics. The Democrats have no agenda. They have no ideas. They have no solutions. All they have is the politics of personal destruction. There is nothing that connects me to Abramoff or any of the activities that they have. I am not a target of this investigation. I haven't even been interviewed by these investigators.
BLITZER: How do you know you're not a target of the investigation?
DeLAY: The Department of Justice has told my lawyers that I am not a target.
BLITZER: They have formally told your lawyers you are not a target?