House Republicans were finally able to elect a new House speaker on Wednesday afternoon, selecting Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) to fill a 22-day vacancy. Not surprisingly, Johnson was met with a torrent of disgust and scorn on the Wednesday night network newscasts with ABC, CBS, NBC blasting Johnson as a “hardline,” “hard-right,” “ultra-conservative” who’s “staunchly anti-abortion” and “played a key role in efforts…to overturn” the 2020 election.
ABC’s World News Tonight was apoplectic with senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott already indignant toward Johnson after he ignored her questions in the last two days about the 2020 election and didn’t stop the GOP caucus from booing her.
Anchor David Muir signaled a disgusted tone in an opening tease: “Tonight, who’s the new speaker, Congressman Mike Johnson, and where does Speaker Johnson stand on key issues including abortion, funding for Ukraine and does he accept Donald Trump’s election loss?”
In the lead-in to Scott, Muir dismissed him as “a hard-right conservative” who “played a key role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election” and is “the least experienced of any speaker in more 140 years.” Scott also harped on how he’s been in office for less than a decade, as if to suggest he’ll be unable to address “huge challenges.”
“The ultra-conservative congressman has questioned funding for Ukraine in the past,” she explained before showing an exchange in which she and other reporters hounded him about it as he walked through the Capitol
As if she’s working on behalf of House Democrats, Scott went through a list of his policies, all of which were framed from the left:
He is staunchly anti-abortion rights and has supported the idea of a nationwide abortion ban. He is not in favor of protections for same-sex marriage. He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and against the bipartisan infrastructure bill and he voted against the bipartisan chips act, aimed at boosting semiconductors here in America. In the early morning hours, after the attack on this Capitol on January 6, Johnson still voting against certifying President Biden’s victory. That earned him respect from former President Donald Trump who…took credit for Johnson’s win.
Scott made sure to re-up footage of her asking Johnson if he “stand[s] by” his actions surrounding January 6 and both the subsequent boos and Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) telling Scott to “shut up”.
Scott defended herself, insisting in a voice-over that “it remains a legitimate question” and whining he again “didn’t answer” when she tried Wednesday morning (click “expand”):
SCOTT: Johnson’s fellow Republicans booing and shouting. But it remains a legitimate question for any new speaker. After more than 60 judges, many of them appointed by Trump, reviewed challenges to the election, but repeatedly declared there was no widespread fraud that would have changed the outcome. So, I asked him again today about election integrity and whether he would acknowledge Trump’s loss. [TO JOHNSON] Do you acknowledge that Trump lost the election?
JOHNSON: I think we’ll be unified today. I’m excited about it.
SCOTT: He didn’t answer the question. Today Democrats saying it’s clear why Johnson succeeded where others have failed.
CONGRESSMAN PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): This has been about one thing. This has been about who can appease Donald Trump.
SCOTT: David, one of the first orders of businesses for the House to consider is the President’s request for additional funding to both Israel and Ukraine. A growing number of Republicans say they only want funding for Israel, not Ukraine. And, tonight, Speaker Johnson not committing to putting that package on the floor for the vote
After finishing her report, Muir sang Scott’s praises as if she had been subject to some sort of traumatic crime: “Rachel Scott asking the tough questions on the Hill and you’ll keep doing it. Rachel, we support you. Thank you.”
CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell started the labeling from the opening tease that the show will explain “why Mike Johnson’s election is considered a win for hard-right Republicans.”
“[S]o, who is Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson? The staunch conservative wants a federal ban on abortion rights and opposes same-sex marriage. What it means for the future of the Republican Party,” she added.
Congressional correspondent Nikole Killion described Johnson as “an evangelical Christian, former conservative radio talk show host” who’s “taken a sharp stance against gay rights and supports a nationwide abortion ban without exceptions.”
Noting he’s “the least experienced speaker in decades”, Killion credited him for having “managed to unite both the hard-right and establishment flanks of the party”.
In contrast to Scott, Killion stayed out of emphasizing the 2020 election other than to say “Democrats railed against” him for having “helped lead a congressional push to overturn the 2020 election results.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt also got the labeling going in an tease, impressing upon viewers that Republicans not only picked someone who’s “little-known,” but also “a hard-line conservative” who “tr[ied] to overturn the 2020 election.”
Holt continued with this spin after the teases: “Johnson, a hard-right conservative who, in just hours, was propelled from minor party leadership role to second in the constitutional line to the presidency.”
Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake chose to call him “a staunch conservative” while Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker dubbed him “a cultural conservative” (click “expand”):
HAAKE: Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson elected on a party line vote with the support of every Republican, every Democrat opposed. A stunning rise for the Trump ally and low-ranking member of the GOP House leadership team now second in line to the presidency.
JOHNSON: The challenge before us is great but the time for action is now.
HAAKE: Johnson is a staunch conservative on issues like abortion and government spending. He also played a key role in efforts by then President Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the 2020 election. History noted by Democrats today.
HAAKE: Johnson’s election caps a turbulent month for the House beginning with McCarthy and the elevation and withdrawal of three other GOP nominees before the party settled on the relatively unknown Johnson late last night.
WELKER: The newly elected speaker, Mike Johnson, is the son of a firefighter, a cultural conservative, as you just heard, Garrett said and definitely not a household name but, look, he won support from GOP moderates in part because they were under so much pressure. As one told me this afternoon, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Now, Johnson will likely have a steep learning curve as someone who has never been in a top leadership position. He represents a ruby red district in Louisiana and now has to hold together this razor thin Republican majority, so it’s going to be tough.