In 'Angry' and 'Nasty' Atmosphere, CBS's Reid Contends Anti-ObamaCare Protesters 'Got Ugly'

Based on some mild and indiscernible shouts by people in a hallway outside the office of a House member, CBS's Chip Reid on Tuesday night tried to discredit anti-ObamaCare protesters, claiming “at times, it got ugly.”

Reid recounted: “Outside the Capitol, a few hundred members of the conservative Tea Party movement called on Congress to kill the Democratic health care reform bill as Republicans urged them to keep fighting.” Following a clip of Republican Congressman Mike Pence, Reid announced over the hallway video: “Moving inside, they tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly.” Then, leading into pro and con TV ads, Reid asserted: “The angry war of words over health care reform in Washington is echoing across the nation.” Watch the video to see what CBS considers “ugly” behavior. (MP3 audio clip.)

After citing “a growing controversy over a parliamentary maneuver the Speaker may use to get reform passed,” Katie Couric had introduced Reid by maintaining that “as a vote nears, the tension, confusion, and anger are all building.” Reid agreed: “The closer we get to a vote, the nastier the debate becomes. Some on Capitol Hill say it gives new meaning to the expression 'March Madness.'”

[UPDATE: “CBS Charged Anti-ObamaCare Protesters Acted in 'Ugly' Manner, But Politico Found Them 'Polite' and 'Boring.”]

ABC's World News gave the protest a sentence as Jonathan Karl, who focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's “deemed as passed” maneuver, noted: “Outside the Capitol, opponents rallied for one last fight against the health care bill.”

The NBC Nightly News didn't mention the rally, but ran video of it as anchor Brian Williams set up a story on the presumed controversy over Virginia Thomas creating LibertyCentral.org: “The Tea Party movement has a new supporter, and she happens to be married to a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. This comes at a time when the subject of politics and the Court is heating up since the President's very public rebuke of a big decision.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Tuesday, March 16 CBS Evening News story:
KATIE COURIC: Now turning to health care reform and the hunt for votes in the House. There's a growing controversy over a parliamentary maneuver the Speaker may use to get reform passed – a way for the House to approve the Senate bill without actually voting on it. Chip Reid is at the White House tonight, and, Chip, as a vote nears, the tension, confusion, and anger are all building.

CHIP REID: Well, Katie, the closer we get to a vote, the nastier the debate becomes. Some on Capitol Hill say it gives new meaning to the expression “March Madness.”

CLIP OF PROTESTERS CHANTING: Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

REID: Outside the Capitol, a few hundred members of the conservative Tea Party movement called on Congress to kill the Democratic health care reform bill as Republicans urged them to keep fighting.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): -and you are here to say the American people don't want a government takeover of health care!

REID: Moving inside, they tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly. The angry war of words over health care reform in Washington is echoing across the nation.

CLIP OF AD: After all this wheeling and dealing, we will still have a cost-raising, tax-increasing bill.

REID: Groups on both sides of the issue this week are flooding the airwaves with millions of dollars in ads.

CLIP OF AFSCME AD: If the insurance companies win, we lose. Tell Congress to pass health insurance reform now.

REID: Those ads and the entire health care debate are now focused on about 30 undecided House Democrats. President Obama is lobbying them one by one, and today, Dan Maffei of Upstate New York said the President helped win him over.

REP. DAN MAFFEI (D-NY): -and he was very persuasive that this is not one of those things where we can come back next week or next Congress and do it better.

REID: But Jason Altmire of Western Pennsylvania is still waiting for the bill's final language.

REP. JASON ALTMIRE (D-PA): I haven't made a decision because I want to give my constituents a chance to weigh in.

REID: Trying to win over some nervous Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi today said she's considering using a short cut procedure that would require a House vote only on a package of legislative fixes but not on the massive Senate bill itself. Republicans are outraged.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): I don't care what trick they try, it's not going to work. This is the biggest vote that most members will ever cast. You can't hide from it.

REID: Pelosi says that special short cut procedure was used by Republicans many times when they were in charge of Congress, but Republicans say it was never used on anything as massive and controversial as health care reform.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center