CBS Early Show Frets Over 'Passenger Gridlock,' Glosses Over TSA Civil Liberties Abuses

"Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez today glossed over the TSA's use of intrusive pat-downs while drilling down on the potential for "gridlock" if distressed passengers cause "chaos" this weekend over the enhanced security measures.

"There is, as I'm sure you know, this online movement that's gaining more and more momentum calling for people tomorrow to opt-out of those full-body scanners and get pat-downs instead to create chaos at the airport," noted Rodriguez, interviewing aviation expert Peter Goelz. "The head of the TSA told me yesterday that will only serve to further delay and further irritate passengers. How bad do you think it could get?"

Parroting the TSA chief's talking points, the CBS anchor failed to question Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, about the potential for civil liberties abuses. Instead, CBS displayed graphics hyperbolizing "TSA Turbulence" and fretting "Will Passenger Gridlock Hamper Holiday Travel?"

Rodriguez even shifted the burden of responsibility from the government to the passengers: "Is there anything, Peter, that you suggest that people do as they travel in the next couple of days to make things go smoothly?"

As MRC Research Director Rich Noyes reported, while broadcast networks have "generally empathized with the distress of airline passengers," they have yet to criticize the Obama administration for violating basic American civil liberties.

Continuing this disturbing trend, Rodriguez afforded the Democratic administration every benefit of the doubt in her interview with Goelz, speculating that there must be a valid reason for the TSA's actions.

"Do you think it might be possible that there might be a credible terrorist threat specifically surrounding these travel dates that we may not be aware of and that's why they're enforcing this so much?" asked Rodriguez, to which Goelz reassured her that there must be "specific threats" that the general public doesn't know about.            
                                   
In contrast to Rodriguez's trusting disposition toward the current administration, the broadcast networks failed to give former President George W. Bush the same benefit of the doubt after the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program was disclosed.

While the networks have been reluctant to criticize the government for fondling, groping, and molesting passengers, they repeatedly scolded the airlines in August 2007 for excessive delays and other flight issues.

A transcript of Rodriguez's interview with Goelz can be found below:

CBS
The Early Show
November 23, 2010

7:15 A.M. EDT

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ, host: Joining us now from Washington is aviation expert Peter Goelz. He is former managing director of the NTSB. Peter, good morning.

PETER GOELZ, aviation expert: Good morning.

RODRIGUEZ: No matter how much people protest these new screening measures or threaten to boycott the full-body scanners tomorrow, the TSA is not budging on this. What does that tell you?

GOELZ: Well, what it means is the threat is real and I think the majority of Americans understand that. Al-Qaeda and their minions are still focused on aviation and killing Americans. So we need to have enhanced procedures. We need to have procedures that try to outsmart the terrorists.

RODRIGUEZ: Do you think it might be possible that there might be a credible terrorist threat specifically surrounding these travel dates that we may not be aware of and that's why they're enforcing this so much?

GOELZ: Well I speculate about that. I mean, this is, you know, we know that the terrorists are focused on aviation. We know they focus around holiday periods. They've tried to have events before. So I think there may be some specific threats that the TSA and the Homeland Security and acting on and that these procedures are necessary.

RODRIGUEZ: There is, as I'm sure you know, this online movement that's gaining more and more momentum calling for people tomorrow to opt-out of those full-body scanners and get pat-downs instead to create chaos at the airport. The head of the TSA told me yesterday that will only serve to further delay and further irritate passengers. How bad do you think it could get?
 


GOELZ: Well I think people are smarter than that. When you're traveling on holidays, the whole purpose is to get to where you're going safely and on-time. Who wants to spend hours on end in an airport for simply making a point that is really kind of obscure to begin with? The overwhelming majority of people are going to go through the check-in procedures without incident and get to where they want to go to on-time and safely.

RODRIGUEZ: We hope so. Is there anything, Peter, that you suggest that people do as they travel in the next couple of days to make things go smoothly?

GOELZ: Sure. Just review what the procedures are. You know, people who don't fly very often sometimes forget what is expected of them at the check-in. Go to the websites, take a look, be prepared for the check-in.

RODRIGUEZ: Very good. Peter Goelz, thank you so much and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

GOELZ: Same to you.