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Multiple news outlets, from Politico to MSNBC, have repeated the “ultra-MAGA” descriptor from President Biden for Republicans they find extreme, seemingly allowing the White House to write their own copy.
In recent weeks, Biden has used the term “ultra-MAGA” as a pejorative for some Republican measures, for instance slamming the “ultra-MAGA agenda” of Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
“MAGA” refers to the “Make America Great Again” slogan popularized by Donald Trump, and the former president and his supporters have since said they’ll wear the title with pride. Biden, meanwhile, hopes to reset a possibly disastrous midterm election season by pinning a radical label on his political opponents.
While then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed it was the “president’s phrase,” it was later revealed that “ultra-MAGA” was the result of a six-month, liberal focus group research project.
Now, news outlets are latching onto the moniker, as several have suddenly begun using the term to describe certain Republicans they view as being out of the mainstream.
President Joe Biden speaks at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Politico referred to Pennsylvania Senate candidate Kathy Barnette as an “ultra-MAGA commentator” in a report last week.
“Kathy Barnette has been outspent 358-to-1 on TV in Pennsylvania’s GOP primary for the Senate. She hasn’t run for statewide office before. She doesn’t have former President Donald Trump’s endorsement,” Politico wrote. “But the ultra-MAGA commentator is surging in the polls anyway in the final weeks of one of the most expensive and closely watched races in the country.”
CBS News appeared to take a page from Politico’s playbook in its coverage of Tuesday’s primaries, writing “Pennsylvania’s Senate GOP primary race Tuesday features a tight three-way battle between two wealthy candidates who fiercely battled for Trump’s endorsement and a further right candidate who has been described as “ultra-MAGA.”
Notably, CBS attributed Barnette’s “ultra-MAGA” characterization to former Trump aide Steve Bannon without mentioning its origins from Biden.
Kathy Barnette, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, right, fist bumps a supporter at a primary night election gathering, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Elizabethtown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (AP )
“Rise of ultra-MAGA right could play into Dems’ hands,” reads an Axios headline Wednesday. The report acknowledged President Biden coined the phrase.
“The rise of far-right Republican candidates has some Republicans considering voting Democratic this fall — and some Democrats trying to engineer the rise of ultra-MAGA candidates they feel will be easier to defeat in a general election,” Axios reporter Alexi McCammond wrote, later adding, “Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas took aim at the ultra-MAGA candidates in Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House,” employed a breaking news chyron on Wednesday reading, “Primary night victories for Ultra MAGA Candidates.”
A screenshot of a MSNBC chyron reading ‘Primary Night Victories For Ultra MAGA Candidates.’ (MSNBC)
This isn’t the first time the media seamlessly adapted Democrat talking points into their news coverage.
In March, progressive activists were vocal in opposing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law, in part, bars the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity from grades kindergarten through third grade, but the left characterized the GOP-backed legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill despite the fact the phrase isn’t in the law.
However, several news outlets carried out the false characterization of the law.
The Associated Press ran the headline “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes in Florida, goes to governor” with AP reporter Zeke Miller tweeting, “The Florida legislature has passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign into law.”
Three broadcast networks were in sync with the framing of their stories with ABC News running, “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes Florida Senate,” CBS News running, “Florida Senate passes controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill despite protests” and NBC News running “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill: Florida Senate passes controversial LGBTQ school measure.”
Others that echoed the Democrat talking point include The Hill and The Independent as well as Florida papers like The Miami Herald and The Orlando Sentinel.