On PBS, Journalists Label House GOP As All ‘Fringe’ and ‘Very Extreme,’ Unlike Democrats

News & Politics

On Tuesday’s Amanpour & Co., taxpayer-funded PBS put on display the liberal media’s tendency to view nearly all elected Republicans as “extreme.” In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s GOP was “extreme.” In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich’s GOP was “extreme.” Now, Kevin McCarthy’s GOP is “very extreme” and “not your grandfather’s Republican Party.” That would have to refer back to Nixon’s GOP.

But what about today’s Democrats? How extreme are they compared to the 1970s? Republicans and Democrats were much less ideological and closer together on the spectrum. How extreme are reporters, compared to back then? They always place themselves as reasonable centrists.

Weekend NPR host Michel Martin interviewed Susan Glasser, a long-time “objective” reporter now at The New Yorker. Martin listed several loaded labels liberals apply to Republicans as she posed:

What do the various groups that actually make up the Republican majority want right now? People have used various names to describe them — like “bomb throwers,” “fringe,” “ultra-MAGA,” etc. But at their core, who are the — what are the different groups? And what does each of them want?

Glasser began by arguing that the debate over whether McCarthy should be elected Speaker was more over tactics than ideological differences:

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So people could come away, I think, with a mistaken impression that it’s a sort of, you know, Republican establishments and moderates versus, you know, a kind of hard core, far-right conservative extreme…

She soon labeled all House Republicans as extreme: “They are also all extremely conservative, again, by modern standards. It’s not your grandfather’s Republican party. “

After recalling that nearly all congressional Republicans supported President Donald Trump, Glasser concluded: “And so it’s really a feud between two very extreme Republican groups, I would say, at least by historical standards and what the Republican party was.”

But when Martin turned to the Democrats, and it was entirely different: 

Democrats have demonstrated — at least over the last couple of days — tremendous unity — they continue to, you know, vote consistently for their candidate for Speaker who is now the Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Just a couple of years ago, the story was, you know, whether the so-called progressives versus the moderates within the Democratic — Democratic party were at odds — and that doesn’t seem to be the story anymore. But what is the story with the Democrats? How do you see it?

Glasser said “I think they expect to use the excesses that they will identify among Republicans in the next two years as a foil and as a political opportunity to showcase their political argument headed into 2024 about why Republicans are not and should not be trusted as a governing majority in the country.” In other words, Democrats are going to sound just like journalists on PBS. 

This segment was paid for in part by the Anderson Family Fund and by viewers like you. You can fight back by letting advertisers know how you feel about then sponsoring such content.

Transcript follows:

PBS’s Amanpour & Co.

January 10, 2023

MICHEL MARTIN: What do the various groups that actually make up the Republican majority want right now? People have used various names to describe them — like “bomb throwers,” “fringe,” “ultra-MAGA,” etc. But at their core, who are the — what are the different groups? And what does each of them want?

SUSAN GLASSER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, first of all, I do think that primarily it’s not an ideological rift so much as a political and stylistic and tactical one. I do think that that’s an important observation. The House Republican conference has transformed in recent years. Kevin McCarthy has transformed. So people could come away, I think, with a mistaken impression that it’s a sort of, you know, Republican establishments and moderates versus, you know, a kind of hard core, far-right conservative extreme.

And I think that that overemphasizes the role of ideology considering that the vast majority of the House Republican conference even two years ago supported Donald Trump’s attacks and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, right? So think of it that way, you know. It’s not — it’s really split between two groups that all have supported Trump in his presidency and in his election denial and in his post-presidency. So that’s one thing.

They are also all extremely conservative, again, by modern standards. It’s not your grandfather’s Republican party. So that’s an important observation. You know, I do think it’s also reflecting an interesting split in the House Freedom Caucus which has come, you know, in many ways, kind of the leading edge of far-right agitation and that the confrontational style of performative, you know, budget-cutting politics since the Tea Party movement really in 2010 that then the creation of the Freedom Caucus in 2015. Then, as you know, they became sort of the hard core cheering squad for Donald Trump’s presidency. But they ended up on both sides of the Speaker fight.

So you had Matt Gaetz — who came to fame as a kind of, you know, public defender of Donald Trump as a young Florida congressman. You had him and Lauren Boebert and some of the other Freedom Caucus members as the dissenters, but you also had some of the founders like Jim Jordan supporting Kevin McCarthy — even someone who was once dismissed as way out there on the Republican fringe — Marjorie Taylor Greene, a former QAnon adherent.

She was by McCarthy’s side on the floor through much of this — has now been promised a seat on committees that Democrats threw her off of because of extreme statements. And so it’s really a feud between two very extreme Republican groups, I would say, at least by historical standards and what the Republican party was.

MARTIN: At the core, though, what do they want? The overwhelming majority of the Republican caucus — the Republicans voted for this rules package that people consider sort of extreme and that people complained about in preceding days, but they almost entirely voted for it. So what’s the conclusion that we can draw from it? That they are comfortable with the government doing very little, I guess?

GLASSER: The point is that — basically, that is a philosophy ascribed to across the board by these Republicans. There are some disagreements about how far to go. And you could make the argument that the dissenters to McCarthy want even more drastic cuts. But I would say that that basically is the point of view of the majority of the House Republican Conference at this point, and therefore the majority
of the majority that subscribes to these views. That it’s not an ideological or philosophical argument. They have become the institutionalized party of anti-government in the government.

MARTIN: So what do Democrats do through all of this? I mean, the Democrats have demonstrated — at least over the last couple of days — tremendous unity — they continue to, you know, vote consistently for their candidate for Speaker who is now the Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Just a couple of years ago, the story was, you know, whether the so-called progressives versus the moderates within the Democratic — Democratic party were at odds — and that doesn’t seem to be the story anymore. But what is the story with the Democrats? How do you see it?

GLASSER: …In some ways, it’s easier to be in the opposition right? You know, the — being opposed to Donald Trump, being opposed to, “Extremists” is kind of an easier political play in many respects. And so, for Democrats, I think they expect to use the excesses that they will identify among Republicans in the next two years as a foil and as a political opportunity to showcase their political argument headed into 2024 about why Republicans are not and should not be trusted as a governing majority in the country.

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