Pelosi just went after Newsom. She probably shouldn’t have.

A few days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom blasted the national Democratic Party for lacking a “counteroffensive” to GOP-led culture war attacks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned fire on her fellow California Democrat—though she probably shouldn’t have, given the full context of the governor’s remarks.

While appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Pelosi was told by host Margaret Brennan that “Newsom said Democrats have failed to target Republicans” on the issue of abortion. The House Speaker was then shown a brief clip of Newsom at a press conference stating, “Where is the Democratic Party? Where’s the party? Why are we calling this out? This is a concerted, coordinated effort. And yes, they’re winning.” .We need to stand up.Where’s the counteroffensive?”

“Madam Speaker, why were pro-abortion rights Democrats outmaneuvered?” Brennan asked.


“I have no idea,” Pelosi replied. “The fact is that we have been fighting for a woman’s right to choose, and that is to choose. We have been fighting against the Republicans in the Congress constantly because the fact is they’re not just anti-woman’s right to choose in terms of terminating a pregnancy, but in terms of access to contraception and family planning and the rest, both domestically and globally. This is a constant fight that we’ve had for generations, decades, I should say in my case in the Congress.”

She went on to say of Newsom, “I have no idea why anybody would make that statement unless they were unaware of the fight that has been going on.”

A couple important notes: 1. In the sound bite CBS played for Pelosi, Newsom was discussing social and cultural issues more broadly, not just abortion. Here are Newsom’s comments that immediately preceded the clip Pelosi was shown:

“I felt this enormous sense of frustration, like where the hell’s my party? Where’s the Democratic Party? You guys paying attention to what’s going on? It wasn’t just the initiation of so much of this that came out of the private right of action and the actions in Texas, but all these other bills, that are just cookie-cutter bills that are being spun out in states all across the country, across a spectrum of issues.”

2. Newsom specifically went out of his way to exempt Pelosi and House Democrats from his criticism. Rather, he said he was criticizing certain Senate Democrats (Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema) for their opposition to eliminating the filibuster, as well as the party-at-large for being unable to develop a coherent counter message to the GOP on issues ranging from LGBT rights to race relations.

“These culture wars, where is the counteroffensive in the Democratic Party?” Newsom said. “Why aren’t we waking up to that? And it’s not an indictment, it’s not about the leader of the House of Representatives, she’s delivering across the spectrum, it’s just not getting through the door in the Senate. The president is doing all he can deal with a hundred different crises… I applaud him for all of that work as well. It’s about us as Democrats doing a better job to coordinate a more disciplined counteroffensive and message across the spectrum.”

Of any possible federal legislation, Newsom said, “We’ve seen this anymore across a spectrum of issues, things getting stuck in Congress, I can’t take Manchins, I can’t take it.”

CBS did not show any of that context to Pelosi. The network framed Newsom’s remarks about him as the governor attacking national Democrats on the issue of abortion specifically, which was very much not the governor’s argument. (The House has already passed a bill codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, which Newsom seemed to indirectly allude to when he said Pelosi is “across the spectrum delivering.”)

Regardless of whether CBS producers were themselves unaware of the context behind Newsom’s remarks, or whether it was their attempt to mislead (it’s probably the former), they succeeded in inducing a headliningmaking reaction out of Pelosi.

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