COMMENTS: House Votes No; Wall Street Woes

A massive and rapid sell-off on Wall Street was triggered by the House of Representatives. In the middle of the trading day, Congress voted 205-228 to reject the Treasury Department's plan for a $700bn federal bailout of the financial industry. Those financiers responded by selling stocks, driving down their price by $1.1tr. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 777 points, the largest single day number in its history, to close at 10365. ABC led with the stock market action; NBC and CBS led with the vote on Capitol Hill, which was the Story of the Day. Thus CBS' headline grabbing interview by anchor Katie Couric was relegated to the second half of the newscast. Couric was in Columbus Ohio, where she sat down for an Exclusive with both halves of the Republican Presidential ticket, Sarah Palin and John McCain.

"Passage was expected," noted CBS' Bob Orr before the financial bailout was defeated. "It was not supposed to be this way," ABC's Jake Tapper told us, since the plan had been for the Democrats to guarantee 140 votes and the Republicans 80: "They ended up delivering only 65." NBC's Tom Costello calculated, therefore, that fully 67% of the GOP caucus had opposed its own President, its own Treasury Secretary and its own Congressional leadership. "I think a lot of people, even the House leaders were surprised that this went down," ABC anchor Charles Gibson suggested to George Stephanopoulos. "I sure was," Stephanopoulos replied.

CBS anchor Couric asked a peculiar pair of asymmetrical questions of the two leaders of the House. "Why were you not able to deliver more Democrats?" she inquired of Steny Hoyer, the Majority Leader. "We think we did our job," the Democrat responded, whose whips counted correctly. "What was the impact of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's remarks today in your view?" she posed to John Boehner, the Minority Leader, whose whips fell short. "After what I thought was a rather partisan speech…it really killed our chances to get any of a dozen members to actually come our way and vote for the bill," the Republican replied, echoing his afternoon talking points. CBS' Orr reported that when Democrats heard that explanation for Boehner's failure they accused Republicans "of throwing a political temper tantrum."


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