On Monday's AC360, CNN's Anderson Cooper forwarded the media's new
talking point about the New York 23 congressional race, that "tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are...driving moderates out of the GOP." Correspondent Tom Foreman continued on this note, stating that "angry conservatives...[are] forcing the party to choose between...its base and attracting more moderate Americans."
Cooper led the 10 pm Eastern hour of his program with the question, "Does the Republican Party have room for moderates?" The anchor outlined that "state and local elections tomorrow may have profound national effects, and President Obama and Sarah Palin are a big part of it. Two governor's races may test the President's ability to get others elected or turn into a referendum on his presidency." He continued with the media's new spin on the electoral contests, as if it was a matter of fact: "As for Sarah Palin, she, Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are front and center, driving moderates out of the GOP."
Foreman then came in with his report, which focused on the New York congressional race, and continued with Cooper's point:
FOREMAN (voice-over): If waves of angry conservatives gave Democrats a scare last summer, they may be terrifying Republicans this fall, by forcing the party to choose between satisfying its base and attracting more moderate Americans. A case in point: New York's 23rd Congressional District, a Republican stronghold for more than a century. The GOP candidate, Dede Scozzafava, had been favored to win, a moderate who fit nicely into the national party's plans to claw back middle voters, especially women. But that was before big-name conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh made it clear they wanted her out and a more conservative candidate in, calling Scozzafava a Republican-in-name-only, a RINO, whose Democratic leanings have tainted the whole idea of a moderate Republican.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: We can say that she's guilty of widespread bestiality. She has screwed every RINO in the country. Everyone can see just how phony and dangerous they are.
FOREMAN: Under the onslaught, Scozzafava's numbers crumbled. She suspended her campaign, and Doug Hoffman, the candidate for the Conservative Party, is now the chief challenger to Democrat Bill Owens. For organizers of those Tea Party events, who call this a grassroots victory, that's fine. They say they frankly want conservatives to win, and they don't care if they're Republican or not.
BRENDAN STEINHAUSER, FREEDOMWORKS: The grassroots uprising on the right is not about the party. It's not about getting Democrats out of office. It's not about- you know, ending President Obama's tenure. What it's about is electing conservatives to Congress, conservatives to the Senate.
FOREMAN: The driving force of this conservative surge is money, outrage over President Obama's expansive government, the soaring deficit and rising unemployment. Social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are clearly taking a backseat. Yet, at conservative bastions, such as the Heritage Foundation, folks like Rory Cooper is crowing.
RORY COOPER, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: You're seeing that the conservative movement not only isn't dead, but it's thriving.
FOREMAN (on-camera): So, Republican leads have a tiger by the tail, an impressive force that some believe could drag their party back into power, if it can be tamed. But, if it can't, others fear it could just as easily tear their party apart. Anderson?
Cooper and Foreman are clearly adopting the earlier takes of CBS's Harry Smith , ABC's George Stephanopoulos , and MSNBC's Chris Matthews , that a "civil war" in the GOP is leading to a "purge" of moderates from the party.
- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.