The top Washington story on Monday, March 26 came straight from the Sunday morning chat shows: the support for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was slipping, even among Republicans.
Which Republicans? There are conservatives who are not big fans of Gonzales, who would have preferred the president had chosen someone bolder, more confrontational, someone willing to make a case for conservatism. But none of those people were seen on ABC, CBS or NBC. Viewers saw instead the "even Republicans," the ones who specialize in ratifying the conventional liberal media wisdom, as in, "Even Republicans say Gonzales is cooked."
If the media think Gonzales is crippled and Bush is wretched, then it's not that hard for them to find Republicans who will spit that line back to them, for emphasis. They aren't Republicans. They merely play them on TV.
The tragedy is that the viewers, Republicans and Democrats alike, get a distorted view of what's really going on in Washington. Democrats out there think the Republicans are desperately on the ropes with no one to defend the executive branch. Republicans think their own politicians are all "linguini-spined" panderers, to borrow from Rush Limbaugh.
Can you blame them? On Monday morning's "Early Show" on CBS, viewers saw and heard only these Republican senator soundbites on Gonzales and his handling of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
From Sen. Arlen Specter: "We have to have an attorney general who is candid, truthful. And if we find he has not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reason for him not to stay on."
From Sen. Lindsey Graham: "But he has been wounded. He's going to have to come to the Senate and re-establish his credibility."
From Sen. Chuck Hagel: "But to say you can't have a transcript, the American people should not understand or know what's going on, it not be done under oath -- I just don't understand."
Liberals who claim there are too many Republicans on Sunday morning TV shows aren't actually listening to what's being said. This is like having a unanimous Greek chorus of Democratic talking points, but the song is coming out of Republican mouths.
On NBC's "Today," it was the same. The only Republican senators allowed to speak to NBC viewers were Specter, saying Gonzales has a "lot of explaining to do," and Hagel, insisting, "You cannot have the nation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over his credibility."