On PBS, CNN’s Henderson Hits ‘So-Called’ Pro-Life, Hails ‘Decent’ Family Man Biden

News & Politics

On PBS’s weekly journalist roundtable show Washington Week, Nia-Malika Henderson of CNN hit a trifecta of liberal bias, dismissing the import of President Biden’s classified document scandal, taking a crack at the “so-called pro-life movement,” and using a failed Republican candidate from New Mexico to claim that election denialism and Trump’s violent rhetoric was a nationwide threat to Democrats.

While the other panelists (Jonathan Lemire of Politico, Weijia Jiang of CBS News, and PBS’s Lisa Desjardins) were moderately tough on Biden over the ongoing discovery of classified documents dating from his time as vice president, Henderson defended Biden as a churchgoing family man, and agreed with Democrats that the American people were too shrewd to take the scandal seriously.

PBS host Yamiche Alcindor and Henderson each used the term “hiccup” for how minor this scandal is: 

Nia-Malika Henderson: ….Democrats I talked to about this say listen, this is sort of tempest in a D.C. teapot, that it is much ado about nothing. You saw I think President Biden echo that today. They think that voters are much more savvy than we give them credit for, that they sort of lived through this with Hillary Rodham Clinton, they lived through this obviously with what happened with the Donald Trump as well very recently and they can tell the difference between whether or not there or something possibly nefarious going on that would possibly warrant something like we saw with Donald Trump, versus what we are seeing with Joe Biden.

I do think there is something else at play here. Joe Biden in terms of his political brand, it is that he is different from Donald Trump, he’s competent, he’s been in public office and public life for many many years. So that was part of his calling. There is also I think something else. Generally people think of him as being a decent human being, a decent person, a family man, he goes to church, he is loyal to his wife. And those sort of intangibles I think will serve him very well as whatever unfolds with this special counsel. Listen there is fear, though, with a special counsel — we’ve seen, for instance, with Bill Clinton, it can end up you know, you can sort of begin with a real estate deal and end with a soiled blue dress right, and impeachment….

When host Yamiche Alcindor later asked her about the March for Life and the “new sort of battlefield” around abortion, she responded with hostile labeling of the pro-life movement.

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Henderson: ….In terms of politically I think you’re going to see in 2024, the so-called pro-life movement, they are going to try to put up a candidate that wants to have a federal abortion ban. In terms of I think the pro-choice movement, you saw I think a kind of renewed commitment to the pro-choice movement and the pro-choice situation in Roe v. Wade in a way that I think Democrats and liberals weren’t so fiercely proponents of abortion….

So the “so-called pro-life” movement is dubious, but the “pro-choice movement” is simply who they say they are?

Alcindor later brought up Solomon Pena, the failed GOP New Mexico state House candidate who hired four men to shoot up Democrat officials’ homes in Albuquerque.

Henderson: Yeah, listen there has been a tenfold increase in threats against lawmakers going back to 2016. Many people sort of tie this to the rise of Trump, the rise of Trumpism and the kind of rhetorical violence we have heard from him over these many years

A partial transcript follows, click “Expand” to read:
 

PBS Washington Week

January 20, 2023

8:11:05 p.m. Eastern

Nia-Malika Henderson: ….Democrats I talked to about this say listen, this is sort of tempest in a D.C. teapot, that it is much ado about nothing. You saw I think President Biden echo that today. They think that voters are much more savvy than we give them credit for, that they sort of lived through this with Hillary Rodham Clinton, they lived through this obviously with what happened with the Donald Trump as well very recently and they can tell the difference between whether or not there or something possibly nefarious going on that would possibly warrant something like we saw with Donald Trump, versus what we are seeing with Joe Biden. I do think there is something else at play here. Joe Biden in terms of his political brand, it is that he is different from Donald Trump, he’s competent, he’s been in public office and public life for many many years. So that was part of his calling.

There is also I think something else. Generally people think of him as being a decent human being, a decent person, a family man, he goes to church, he is loyal to his wife. And those sort of intangibles I think will serve him very well as whatever unfolds with this special counsel. Listen there is fear, though, with a special counsel — we’ve seen, for instance, with Bill Clinton, it can end up you know, you can sort of begin with a real estate deal and end with a soiled blue dress right, and impeachment. I’m not suggesting that there is anything like that with Joe Biden, but we do know that once you give sort of a special counsel this kind of power, things can go any sort of way. So there is sort of I think a latent fear among Democrats about that, whether or not this will end up in a different way then it began. But they are also heartened by the sure footing that the White House seems to be on over these last days. Lots of hiccups, lots of sort of fumbling on the message front but it seems to be that they’ve righted the course in the terms of the political message.

Yamiche Alcindor: …. We had the March for Life, which is a–these are advocates of restricting abortion who had a big march today. They used to go straight to the Supreme Court and now they are also going to Congress, marking that as a new sort of battlefield. I wonder what you make of that and where the battle is there when it comes to abortion in this country?

Nia-Malika Henderson: Listen, it’s begun again. I think we saw a 50-year battle, it culminated in one way with that  Dobbs decision and we’re going see 20, 30, 40 more years of battles. I think practically, we’re going see more births, right in particular states that have high poverty levels, high infant and maternal mortality. There is 50,000 additional births so that will be that means something and economically for women and their families. In terms of politically I think you’re going to see in 2024, the so-called pro-life movement, they are going to try to put up a candidate that wants to have a federal abortion ban. In terms of I think the pro-choice movement, you saw I think a kind of renewed commitment to the pro-choice movement and the pro-choice situation in Roe v. Wade in a way that I think Democrats and liberals weren’t so fiercely proponents of abortion. I think you saw in 2022 what that meant for the ballot box, Democrats did much better than they expected to and part of that was because Republicans were seen as very radical in terms of abortion….

….

Henderson: Yeah, listen there has been a tenfold increase in threats against lawmakers going back to 2016. Many people sort of tie this to the rise of Trump, the rise of Trumpism and the kind of rhetorical violence we have heard from him over these many years. Susan Collins, of course, the senator from Maine in October said she would not be surprised if at some point a lawmaker was assassinated. We saw of course what happened with Nancy Pelosi’s husband, they were rying they were looking for her, they ended up attacking her husband. And so unfortunately this isn’t a real surprise to anyone. Lawmakers talk about the threats they’ve received, the increased need for security. And listen, the need also to tamp down the violent rhetoric and the conspiracy theories. And some of this grows out this kind of election denialism. This particular gentleman for instance thought he didn’t lose and he was sort of going on a rampage as a result of it. So we are in very very difficult times.

I think if you are a lawmaker, you were used to kind of nasty phone calls at some point if you were an elected official, but now the threat has gotten so much worse and lawmakers are very nervous about this and they, some of this stuff has been visited upon them, ? members in congress and across the nation as well. And you hope that at some point some of the rhetoric is tamped down on. And it isn’t really both sides, right? It is more on the right at this point. And you talk to folks at the FBI, you talk to folks in law enforcement, there is real concern. That it used to be sort of there was a threat from outside the country’s borders but now there is this threat from within. So you see these incidents happening. And listen, lawmakers are not surprised at these kind of incidents, and they are certainly nervous and scared and stepping up there security is much as they can.

Alcindor: And a quick follow-up, Mia, I mean Pena lost by 48 points, 48 points, this was not a close race. I wonder how that makes governing — and how it also impacts the American people, voters when you think I want a government governing, but you have people who will follow Pena and say he never conceded, this was maybe a rightful thing he should have done, not shooting at people, but at least contesting an election that was clearly lost by him.

Henderson: Listen, I mean Exhibit A is Donald Trump, right? And I think that he has set the example for this, the idea that you can clearly lose an election but you can also spread a lie that it was a rigged election and that people were out to get you and there votes that weren’t counted, and Italy changed votes from Trump to Biden, whatever these sort of conspiracy theories are, you don’t know how they are going to land on unstable, criminal elements of the country. And you sort of saw that mix with this particular gentleman. And again there isn’t any sense from what I can tell that lawmakers, particularly on the right, and the sort of chattering classes on the right, are interested in sort of tamping down the rhetoric. There is this rhetoric around their being enemies on the other side and people who aren’t following the rule of law and conducting elections in the way that they should.

Listen, I think we are glad there weren’t many election deniers that came out of the 2022 cycle, that people sort of conceded and walked away, but this of course was a different instance and you hope that this is something that going forward doesn’t happen more frequently. But again, there is a lot of fear among lawmakers that this is going to become much more routine.

This Washington Week bias was paid for in part by viewers like you.

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