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NBC's Williams Decries 'People Who Had Never Been to Wisconsin' Donating to Recall Race

Remarking that Wisconsin voters had "decided to leave their governor in office" on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams contemptuously declared that "money flowed into that state from all over the country, from people who had never been to Wisconsin, had no connection to Wisconsin. Part of the new and unlimited spending that is changing politics in a hurry." [Listen to the audio]

After Williams credited the out-of-state money for "a huge victory for the Republicans," chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd breathlessly proclaimed: "Walker and national Republicans responded aggressively [to the recall], launching an unprecedented fundraising and TV ad campaign, outspending Barrett and his labor allies by a 3 to 1 margin on the air alone. Overall, nearly as much money was spent in this one state for one election than Mitt Romney has spent to secure the Republican presidential nomination."

Wrapping up his report, Todd again hyped the GOP's financial advantage in the race: "Democrats here, Brian, are shell-shocked in Washington about how badly labor was outspent in Wisconsin....it is unbelievable. More money spent in Wisconsin, same amount of money that Bush and Gore each spent just 12 years ago running for president."

Wednesday's CBS Evening News similarly highlighted the money issue as the main reason for Walker's victory, with correspondent Dean Reynold's asking the Governor: "How do you assure people that you are not beholden to these interests from out of state that poured money into your campaign?"

After Walker explained that "70% of our donations came from people giving us 50 bucks or less," Reynolds pressed: "Do you think you could have won without the financial assistance that you got? You've been raising money since you took office, really."

Introducing a report that followed on the amount of money spent in the race, anchor Scott Pelley echoed Williams as he announced: "The Wisconsin battle also was a preview of how much money is changing politics these days. Donations flooded into the state on both sides....A lot of it from wealthy individuals."

While Pelley mentioned money flowing to "both sides," correspondent Nancy Cordes spent much her report focused on Republicans:

Democrats like to say Mayor Barrett didn't stand a chance against Governor Walker's money. His $30 million war chest dwarfed Barrett's $4 million thanks to a 25-year-old Wisconsin law that allows office holders facing a recall to raise unlimited funds. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who've given millions to Super-PACs, each gave Walker $250,000. Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks gave him $500,000.

Cordes mentioned: "Democratic groups spent $15 million on ads and get-out-the-vote efforts. $8 million of that came from unions, 4 of it from the government workers union." But she quickly returned to the GOP coffers: "And of the $18 million Republican groups spent, 9 of it came from the Republican Governors Association. $3 million from Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch."

Unlike NBC and CBS, Wednesday's ABC World News covered the results of Wisconsin recall without pushing the money angle.

Earlier Wednesday, all three network morning shows fretted over the "massive spending gap" between Walker and Barrett.

Here is a full transcript of the June 6 Nightly News report:

7:03PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Also at the polls last night, the voters of Wisconsin decided to leave their governor in office after a recall election. But it wasn't just a Wisconsin election, because money flowed into that state from all over the country, from people who had never been to Wisconsin, had no connection to Wisconsin. Part of the new and unlimited spending that is changing politics in a hurry. And at the end of the day, it was a huge victory for the Republicans. Our report tonight from our political director Chuck Todd.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Governor, congratulations.

CHUCK TODD: Scott Walker at a steel plant outside Milwaukee basking in the glow of his victory over Democrat Tom Barrett Tuesday, but striking a conciliatory tone.

SCOTT WALKER: Today, the election's over. We're no longer political opponents, we're all Wisconsinites. And I think overwhelmingly, there's more that unites us than divides us.

TODD: Walker first defeated Barrett for the job in 2010, then led a successful Republican effort to strip away most collective bargaining rights for the state's public employees in March 2011, prompting labor unions and Democrats to target him for recall. Walker and national Republicans responded aggressively, launching an unprecedented fundraising and TV ad campaign, outspending Barrett and his labor allies by a 3 to 1 margin on the air alone. Overall, nearly as much money was spent in this one state for one election than Mitt Romney has spent to secure the Republican presidential nomination. National Republicans were quick today to use Walker's victory as a rallying cry for November.

JOHN BOEHNER: The American people have had it with big government and high taxes and a regulatory system that knows no bounds.

TODD: But Walker himself seemed hesitant to draw national conclusions, noting Mitt Romney trails the President in his home state.

WALKER: I think he is an underdog. I think he'd acknowledge he's an underdog, particularly here in Wisconsin.

TODD: Walker benefitted from the fact that Wisconsin voters seemed conflicted about the recall process. In exit rolls, 60% said the recall should only be used against office holders who commit official misconduct. That sentiment was clear today.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN A: It just seems like some people were mad they didn't get their way and it was kind of sour grapes and just kind of really took things to a whole other level.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: I don't think all the money was worth it. I mean in the end, he still won. What was the point?

TODD: You know, Democrats here, Brian, are shell-shocked in Washington about how badly labor was outspent in Wisconsin. In fact, one party leader used his Wisconsin press release here as a plea in search of their own big Democratic personal donors trying to kick in more money there. Brian, it is unbelievable. More money spent in Wisconsin, same amount of money that Bush and Gore each spent just 12 years ago running for president.

WILLIAMS: Alright, Chuck Todd from our D.C. newsroom tonight on what happened last night. Chuck, thanks.

Here is a full transcript of the June 6 Evening News report:

6:34PM ET

SCOTT PELLEY: Unions were evaluating this loss today. Gerald McEntee,  president of the leading public employees union said quote, "Even with this loss, Wisconsin's voters have sent a clear message that attacks on workers' rights will not go unchallenged. Working families may not win every fight but this struggle is far from over."

The Wisconsin battle also was a preview of how much money is changing politics these days. Donations flooded into the state on both sides. The recall election may have cost more than $75 million, and about half of that came from outside Wisconsin. A lot of it from wealthy individuals. We asked Nancy Cordes to look into that.

NANCY CORDES: Democrats like to say Mayor Barrett didn't stand a chance against Governor Walker's money. His $30 million war chest dwarfed Barrett's $4 million thanks to a 25-year-old Wisconsin law that allows office holders facing a recall to raise unlimited funds. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who've given millions to Super-PACs, each gave Walker $250,000. Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks gave him $500,000.

But money from outside groups helped both candidates. Democratic groups spent $15 million on ads and get-out-the-vote efforts. $8 million of that came from unions, 4 of it from the government workers union. And of the $18 million Republican groups spent, 9 of it came from the Republican Governors Association. $3 million from Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

TIM PHILLIPS [PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY]: You have to have a ground game that matches the Left door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood.

CORDES: Tim Phillips runs Americans for Prosperity. Beyond paying for ads, his group sent 75 staffers into Wisconsin to knock on doors.

PHILLIPS: They're now going back to states like Florida and Ohio and Michigan and Colorado, and they're going to keep doing the same grassroots work, educating folks candidly on President Obama's disastrous economic record and what folks can do about it.

CORDES: The heavy spending in this race shows that these large outside groups from both parties are increasingly interested in investing, not just in the presidential race, but in state races and congressional races, Scott, where a few million dollars can make a big difference.

PELLEY: Thanks for the insight, Nancy.

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.