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Garrett Offers Contrasting Coverage of Leadership Votes

Reported by Judy - November 17, 2006 -

Both parties elected leaders for the new session that starts in January, but Major Garrett's coverage of the back-to-back elections depicted one party as engaging in infighting and the other as carrying out a routine matter. Guess which was which.

On his report Thursday (Nov. 16, 2006) on the "Live Desk" regarding the House Democrats' election of leaders, Garrett used harsh words to describe the election of Steny Hoyer over Jack Murtha as House Majority Leader, saying caucus members "defied" Speaker Nancy Pelosi's choice.

"It became personal , it became bitter, it became divisive," he said. "Many Democrats believe that that is exactly the wrong way for this new House Democratic majority to get started after its momentus victory, after its historic victory on November 7. But the race came, it’s now over. Democrats have to patch things up."

Garrett's tone after the Republicans held their elections on Friday (November 17, 2006) was markedly different. He offered no speculation about what the election means for the future, as he did in the case of the Democrats, and he left out potentially embarrassing information regarding the Republican leadership struggle while highlighting it in the case of the Democrats.

He left out the fact that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert decided not to seek election to a minority leadership post because of his mishandling of the Mark Foley pages scandal. He did not mention Hastert at all, leaving the impression that John Boehner of Ohio, whom he described as a familiar face, had been the party's top leader in the House before.

Garrett did say that Boehner beat Mike Pence from Indiana for the minority leader post in a lopsided vote, but did not mention that Pence is more conservative than Boehner. Nor did he offer any sort of characterization of their election contest, either as an ideological struggle, a personal battle, or anything else.

Garrett reported that Roy Blunt of Missouri will be the minority whip, but left out the fact that Blunt also faced an election contest with John Shadegg of Arizona. Nor did Garrett remind viewers that Blunt ran against Boehner for Majority Leader after Tom DeLay was forced to resign.

The differing approaches to the two stories illustrates Fox News' broader agenda: depict Democrats as divided and in disarray, unable to govern, while portraying Republicans as business-like, always united.