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Friday, November 17, 2006


Update: The Pelosi/Murtha/Hoyer Fight - Hoyer Wins, Pelosi Loses

-By Warner Todd Huston

Now that the Democrats have picked their Majority Leader in the House the outcome gives us (and her) the first hint that Speaker Pelosi is not the powerhouse she thought she was. Her man, Murtha, lost in a landslide: 149 to 86... a thumpin' to say the least.

In my last report on how the MSM covered this little inter Dem fight I pointed out that they were ignoring how distant were the two positions on pulling out of Iraq that is held by the erstwhile candidates for Majority Leader.

I noted how they refused to portray Murtha's position as "extreme", even as he supports pulling out of Iraq immediately to Hoyer's, who does not. I noted that the MSM did not waste much breath contrasting Murtha's position with the far less volatile position held by Hoyer.

It seems strangely inconsistent that the MSM ignored the Iraq war issue in their stories since they made the entire recent election all about Iraq and how it is a mess and that our soldiers should come home. Yet, a guy who does not want an immediate pull out defeated Murtha and this fact went uncommented upon.

Instead, the angle that was taken was all about both Murtha and Hoyer's corruption scandals and their various levels of money taken from lobbyists, the issue of Iraq barely given any notice at all.

So now that Hoyer has won, what was the gist of the coverage? I thought I would follow my pre-Majority leader coverage with a wrap up.

David Corn of the Nation made a prediction that has yet to come true, at least with the initial coverage of Hoyer's ascension to Majority leader.

Still, this vote will be depicted as a slam on Pelosi and on the start-withdrawing-now Democrats.

While this story has been reported as an embarrassing loss for Pelosi, no mention has been made by the MSM about how this is a "slam" on the "start-withdrawing-now Democrats." The MSM obviously has the back of Pelosi and the "start-withdrawing-now Democrats", apparently. After all, they have studiously avoided the issue that might bring a harsh light upon them.

A perusal of about a dozen stories today on the outcome of the Dems Majority election shows that the moderate/extremist angle was still passed over. But, curiously, the corruption angle was soft peddled, too, in the aftermath. Yesterday's comments were filled with the corruption of both Hoyer and Murtha, but today it was barely mentioned, as if it was suddenly not that important.

Instead, Hoyer was proclaimed the "moderate" that will perfectly balance Pelosi's "liberal reputation" with Hoyer's "moderate" stance on Iraq constantly portrayed as a positive. Has support for the cut-and-run Democrat suddenly dried up among the MSM now that the Dems have won?

Still, the L.A. Times has no mention of the "moderate" Hoyer in their story, Party gets a rocky start, except to say that Hoyer got the backing of "moderate" Democrats.

The New York Times tried to paint the Democrats as perfectly unified even in the face of this stinging defeat of Pelosi's first attempt at power politics.

But Democrat after Democrat said the outcome of the leadership fight was a reflection that a clear majority of the party believed that Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Hoyer had been a winning combination, despite the strains between them, and that there was no reason to make an abrupt change. In the view of many Democrats, Mr. Hoyer’s moderate image offset her more liberal reputation, and his floor management and vote-counting abilities -- sharply illustrated by his victory today -- free her to concentrate on the party’s broader message.

The San Francisco Chronicle mentions that Pelosi picked Murtha just precisely for his extreme Pull-out-of-Iraq position, but does not really make much of the fact that Murtha lost to a man who doesn't share that position.

Pelosi showed her stance= Speaking of Murtha, who was her campaign manager for her leadership bids, she said that having him as majority leader "would be the best way to end the war in Iraq.''

Murtha said "Nancy asked me to set a policy (on the war) for the Democratic Party. Most of the party signed onto it," he said, referring to his call to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq

That's it. They state it, but do not develop it at all showing a sudden desire to wait and see, apparently. A far cry from the reactionary assumptions they made of Republicans before the election.

TheBoston Herald mirrors the Chronicle's take on the story with a mention of Pelosi's support of Murtha when she issued a "letter of support for him, praising him for having called a year ago for an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq."

“I salute your courageous leadership that changed the national debate and helped make Iraq the central issue of this historic election,” she wrote.

Four days later, behind closed doors, she lauded Murtha for having altered the course of the campaign debate on the war and said it was in part responsible for the Democrats’ electoral victories. She urged fellow Democrats to elect him majority leader to help her change the course of the war.

Well, she lost even as she based her support for Murtha on that very anti-war issue. The Herald, though, does not develop the point past a mere mention of it.

Reuters at least mentions it most succinctly.

Steny Hoyer, a moderate Maryland Democrat, easily defeated Pennsylvania's John Murtha, a leading proponent of a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, to become the next House majority leader.

Howard Fineman of Newsweek also admitted that Pelosi chose Murtha for his extreme anti-war position:

Her (Pelosi's) original plan was to stay neutral in the race between Hoyer and Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania. Then she quietly started making calls for Murtha, whom she felt she owed a debt of gratitude for his willingness to oppose the war in Iraq.

But, Fineman also avoids further analysis of the loss as any kind of statement against Murtha's extreme stance.

Time Magazine leaves it at: "The moderate Hoyer won".

Sharp punditry, there!

The Chicago Tribune also made note that "Murtha also led House Democrats in their opposition to President Bush's managing of Iraq" and that this was the reason Pelosi picked him.

Because Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran, was on the vanguard of the Democratic opposition to the Iraq War (he called last November for U.S. troops to be redeployed) Pelosi and many other Democrats publicly said he should be given the high-profile post.

No further discussion from there, however.

Lastly, the WashingtonPost ignored the Murtha/Hoyer comparison instead contrasting Pelosi and Hoyer:

Steny H. Hoyer is a practical moderate and Nancy Pelosi is a liberal idealist, and for more than 40 years they have competed like siblings, all the way to the pinnacle of politics.

The race was long and bitter. Hoyer ran as the more moderate and experienced candidate, while Pelosi portrayed herself as forward thinking and progressive

And in the story from the New York Times mentioned above, Hoyer was proclaimed "a moderately liberal lawmaker with close ties to the business community and a history of strong support for the federal installations in suburban Washington, had political credentials of his own."

Moderately liberal? The ACU gave him a 12% for the 2005 Congress. Not very "moderate", there.

So, what can we conclude from the MSM's coverage of the Hoyer win as Majority Leader?

Several disturbing points emerge:

-The MSM didn't feel that Murtha's loss as an advocate of the get-out-of-Iraq-now caucus to a "moderate" on the issue was important enough to highlight.

-The corruption issue was a non-starter for the MSM -- though it is always a great issue with which to beat up Republicans.

-Pelosi's loss on the get-out-of-Iraq-now issue was not too interesting, either.

This coverage raises some very interesting questions.

Wasn't the recent election all about pulling out of Iraq? Why was this point ignored? Shouldn't it be big news that the Democrats voted down a get-out-now supporter for a so-called "moderate"?

Where are Olbermann, Streisand, Mommie Sheehan, and their ilk calling for the Democrat's head on a pike for turning their back on Pelosi and Murtha for such a "moderate"?

Also, where are the Republicans for pointing out that Pelosi is, indeed, trying to make the pullout position a corner stone of her leadership?

Of course, should the MSM have taken up these questions it would bring strife upon the Democrats in who's corner the MSM sits like tail wagging, puppies. No surprise, there.

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