CBS Promotes Liberal Activist: Her ‘Rallying Cry... Define[d] The Presidential Campaign Of Barack Obama’

July 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act and on Wednesday CBS This Morning used the event to highlight liberal labor activist Dolores Huerta. 

CBS correspondent Michelle Miller began her 5 minute report by gushing over Ms. Huerta and described her as someone who “co-founded the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez, fought for feminism with Gloria Steinem and battled for social change.” [See video below.]

Co-host Gayle King introduced the segment by noting that the Civil Rights Act “inspired many to speak up for social justice. Michelle Miller met one activist who's been doing that for decades now.”  

Miller began her profile by gushing that “Dolores Huerta barely stands 5 feet tall. But she's been a giant in the fight against inequality for more than 50 years...When we caught up with her, she was leading protesters to the office of Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected Majority Leader of the Republican Party.” 

The promotional piece continued with the CBS reporter hyping how “her passion and determination go back to a battle she began in the 1960s. Hers was the rallying cry that would later come to define the presidential campaign of Barack Obama... She co-founded the United Farm Workers union Cesar Chavez, fought for feminism with Gloria Steinem and battled for social change.” 

Miller didn’t stop cheerleading for Huerta:

About the time the civil rights movement was gaining momentum in the south, Huerta met Cesar Chavez, establishing a partnership that would define the labor movement in the west...By 1968 they gained a powerful ally, one they believed would soon become president...She stood by Robert Kennedy's side the night he won the California Democratic primary. 

The CBS reporter concluded her over-the-top glorifying of Huerta by noting her pro-choice agenda:

Yes, she can. And yes she is. Keeping up with Dolores Huerta is not easy. Let me tell you. She still runs a foundation full-time. And what’s more amazing, she raised 11 -- count them -- 11 children. She said she had a lot of help. But this is a woman who is pro-choice. 11 kids....Amazing. Everyone has their own choice.

King expressed similar gratitude for the Huerta advertisement piece by elevating Huerta one last time:

I'm so glad you did this piece, Michelle. Because I never heard of her and I was feeling embarrassed. How did I miss her? But a lot of people had never heard of her. That’s why it's great that you're introducing us to her, a whole new generation to see the work she did. 

See relevant transcript below. 


CBS

CBS This Morning 

July 2, 2014 

GAYLE KING: 50 years ago today President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. 76% of Americans in a new CBS News poll say the legislation was a very important event in U.S. history, but only 5% think all of the goals of the civil rights movement have been achieved. There is no question that the effort inspired many to speak up for social justice. Michelle Miller met one activist who's been doing that for decades now. Michelle, good morning. 

MICHELLE MILLER: Good morning. And while the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior was leading the charge in the south, one California woman was fighting on the front lines for workers rights. Like those in our poll, she believes there's much more work to be done and while her name is rarely mentioned in the history books, she may just be the most vocal activist you've never heard of. Dolores Huerta barely stands 5 feet tall. But she's been a giant in the fight against inequality for more than 50 years. At 84, she's still at it. Did you still expect to be marching at this point, it’s 2014? 

DOLORES HUERTA: No, I think that we see that many of the issues that we fought and won in the civil rights movement have been moved back. You know? 

MILLER: When we caught up with her, she was leading protesters to the office of Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected Majority Leader of the Republican Party. What would you like to tell the congressman? 

HUERTA: To do his job. 

MILLER: Her passion and determination go back to a battle she began in the 1960s. Hers was the rallying cry that would later come to define the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. 

BARACK OBAMA: Yes, we can. 

MILLER: President Obama stole your line. 

HUERTA: Well, when I met the president, he did say that to me. He said, I took your line and I said yes you did.  

OBAMA: Si, se puede. Si, se puede. I'm pleased that she let me off easy because Dolores does not play. 

MILLER: Huerta has received the nation's highest honors. She co-founded the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez, fought for feminism with Gloria Steinem and battled for social change. A new photo-exhibit in Los Angeles pays tribute to her early life. 

HUERTA: And I was a majorette. I was one of the first Latino majorettes in California I think.

MILLER: She grew up in Stockton, California, made famous in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Teaching the children of farm workers opened her eyes to injustice.

HUERTA: Many of the children that were in my classroom, by the way they were not Latino children, most of them were Anglo children. They used to call them the Oakies. And I could see that they were thread-bare and malnutritioned. 

MILLER: About the time the civil rights movement was gaining momentum in the south, Huerta met Cesar Chavez, establishing a partnership that would define the labor movement in the west.

HUERTA: The philosophy that we had in common with Martin Luther King was that of organizing through non-violence. 

MILLER: By 1968 they gained a powerful ally, one they believed would soon become president. 

ROBERT KENNEDY: Dolores Huerta who's an old friend of mine and who has worked with the union, I thank her. 

MILLER: She stood by Robert Kennedy's side the night he won the California Democratic primary. 

HUERTA: It was absolutely joyous because we knew that we were going to have a president that rally cared. Cared about poor people, people of color. 

MILLER: The joyous feeling that night was soon replaced by worry. 

HUERTA: I remember thinking he doesn't have security. And that thought came to me three different times during the night but I didn't say anything because I just didn't want to put any kind of damper on the evening. 

MILLER: He had just given you a shout out.

HUERTA: Right. And I felt guilty for years. I felt so guilty because I thought if I just would have said something. 

MILLER: Kennedy's assassination was just two months after Martin Luther king Junior was killed. Despite the loss of those civil rights icons, Dolores Huerta continues to fight. 

HUERTA: Who's got the power? 

UNKNOWN PEOPLE: We've the power. 

MILLER: She's still speaking out and teaching a new generation to do the same. No plans for retirement any time soon?

HUERTA: Well, as long as I have health and energy and I want to keep on going. I want to keep teaching people how to organize. We can do it. 

MILLER: Or as Dolores would say, si se peude.  Yes, she can. And yes she is. Keeping up with Dolores Huerta is not easy. Let me tell you. She still runs a foundation full-time. And what’s more amazing, she raised 11 -- count them -- 11 children. She said she had a lot of help. But this is a woman who is pro-choice. 11 kids. 

KING: Wow. 

MILLER: Amazing. Everyone has their own choice. 

KING: I'm so glad you did this piece, Michelle. Because I never heard of her and I was feeling embarrassed. How did I miss her? But a lot of people had never heard of her. That’s why it's great that you're introducing us to her, a whole new generation to see the work she did. 

MILLER: She’s still out there. She’s still mentoring young women, trying to get them to, you know, to see their own worth, their own value, and the leader inside of themselves. 

KING: With 11 children. Very much so. Thank you, Michelle Miller. 

MILLER: You’re very welcome. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.