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NBC: Time to End Gerrymandering So 'Ridiculous' Republicans Stop Getting Elected

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams continued to blame Republicans for the government shutdown, asserting that the budget impasse "traces its history back to a determined core of GOP House members who are vehemently against ObamaCare and were willing to shut down the government because of it." [Listen to the audio]

However, he took it a step further by hinting at a way to get rid of such troublesome members of Congress holding up President Obama's agenda: "These members happen to be from very conservative districts where they won by big margins, and their jobs are secure more or less. And in both parties there are congressional districts that are set up by the states to keep the parties in power. But some believe if the system stays this way, our politics will kind of stay this way."

In the report that followed, correspondent Kevin Tibbles began by briefly outlining the history of both parties gerrymandering safe congressional districts to maintain power. However, the story quickly targeted the GOP specifically: "When Republicans won the majority of state houses in 2010, it ensured they'd be redrawing the maps in those states. And lo and behold, it paid off in 2012. Nationwide, Democrats running for Congress got 1.1 million more votes, but Republicans sent 33 more members to the House."

A sound bite was included of Jeff Reichert, director of the 2010 documentary Gerrymandering who once described his political leanings as being "somewhere left of Karl Marx": "If we continue to have a system which allows ridiculous folks to be elected, then we're gonna have a situation where government actually just literally does not function."

In case there was any doubt which politicians Reichert regarded as "ridiculous," footage rolled on screen of a weekend Tea Party protest, with Tibbles observing: "And on day 14 of the government shutdown, some may argue that's exactly what's happened."

Here is a full transcript of the October 14 report:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We touched on this earlier, this current showdown and this current government shutdown traces its history back to a determined core of GOP House members who are vehemently against ObamaCare and were willing to shut down the government because of it.

These members happen to be from very conservative districts where they won by big margins, and their jobs are secure more or less. And in both parties there are congressional districts that are set up by the states to keep the parties in power. But some believe if the system stays this way, our politics will kind of stay this way. Our report on all of it tonight from NBC's Kevin Tibbles.

REP. JIM MORAN [D-VA]: You're willing to bring this country to its knees!

KEVIN TIBBLES: Ever wonder how we got here?

REP. MARK MEADOWS [R-NC]: We did not elect a dictator. We elected a president.

TIBBLES: A good many fingers are pointing at this guy, founding father and Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry drew this contorted district to ensure his party's victory in 1812. One political cartoonist likened it to a salamander. From that day on, the practice of redrawing maps to find friendly voters has been known as gerrymandering.

North Carolina's 12th District looks like spilled coffee. Pennsylvania's 16th is flexing its muscles. And one commentator compared Maryland's 3rd to a broken-winged pterodactyl. And then there's this, they call it the earmuffs.

You may think I'm zipping along in an eight-lane highway, when in fact, I'm traveling the single thread that links the two halves of the Illinois 4th Congressional District.

WILLIAMS [NOVEMBER 2, 2010]: The control of the House of Representatives would switch from the Democratic Party to the Republicans.  

TIBBLES: When Republicans won the majority of state houses in 2010, it ensured they'd be redrawing the maps in those states. And lo and behold, it paid off in 2012. Nationwide, Democrats running for Congress got 1.1 million more votes, but Republicans sent 33 more members to the House.

But it's not just Republicans who draw safe districts. Democrats do it, too. In 2012, both Republicans and Democrats had a paltry 15% approval rating, and yet 90% of house members were re-elected.

CHARLIE COOK [COOK POLITICAL REPORT]: We've now created a system where politicians are choosing their voters more than voters are choosing their politicians.

TIBBLES: Mathematicians using algorithms have proposed creating electoral maps based on geography and population to eliminate the politics.

JEFF REICHERT ["GERRYMANDERING" DIRECTOR]: If we continue to have a system which allows ridiculous folks to be elected, then we're gonna have a situation where government actually just literally does not function.

[FOOTAGE OF TEA PARTY PROTEST]

TIBBLES: And on day 14 of the government shutdown, some may argue that's exactly what's happened. Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Hillside, Illinois.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.