CBS: Bush Administration has ‘Ruined’ Halloween & Christmas

On both Tuesday’s "Evening News" and Wednesday’s "Early Show" CBS gave prominent coverage to Nancy Pelosi’s call for the resignation of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord. In an interview with Nord on Wednesday’s "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen asked:

American parents are upset, they're frightened, they feel like their Halloween and their Christmas is now ruined. They don't know what to buy. Members of Congress are calling for your resignation. Are you going to resign?

The "Evening News" featured a portion of Pelosi’s rant against the Bush Administration, "I'm calling upon the President of the United States to ask for the resignation. It is, after all, his administration, his policy, his appointee." That was followed by reporter Chip Reid’s explanation that "Pelosi says it's clear that Nancy Nord, the Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, doesn't understand the gravity of the situation because Nord opposes legislation now before Congress that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years to more than $141 million a year." Later, Reid did present Nord’s perspective that "Democrats...want to change the mission of the agency to less testing of products and more litigation against companies."

However, on the "Early Show" Reid again reported from Capitol Hill, but this time followed Nord’s explanation with "Consumer advocates say what's really going on here is the Bush Administration protecting big business at the expense of consumers, a charge the White House vigorously denies." Why the sudden addition of an attack on the administration?

Perhaps the answer lies in harshness of the "Early Show" coverage, which featured this exchange:

CHEN: Well I think the American public wants specifics. What are the right tools, and what are the right people?

NORD: I want to be hiring more safety inspectors and scientists and compliance officers. I don't want to be hiring lawyers. I want some feet on the ground. I want people at the ports. I want people inspecting products. I don't want to send -- use our resources to send lawyers into court litigating, and that's my concern with the legislation.

CHEN: But I have to say, the American public, they're wondering this morning why you haven't been jumping up and down, waving your arms, demanding more funding before all this?

First, who made Julie Chen the spokeswoman for everyone in America? Second, do we really expect our public officials to be "jumping up and down" and "waving" their "arms" every time they ask Congress for more funding?

At a later point, Chen appointed herself as a consumer product safety expert:

CHEN: Well, what about the tool of Bob? Bob Is the only toy tester your organization has to test all the toys in the world. Why is that?

NORD: We have a number of people that test toys and work on toy safety. Unfortunately, Bob has become an urban myth. Bob Is a very dedicated employee, but he has a number of people helping him do his job.

CHEN: Well, you clearly need more. Do you have a team that you're ready to hire?

While the product recalls are a serious problem that should be discussed, CBS has clearly decided to simply accept the Democrat Party line and serve as a mouthpiece for Pelosi and her cohorts, as reflected in this concluding question to Nord from Chen, "In the final 15 seconds, what's your response to those who think you are just simply too cozy with the manufacturers?"

Here is the full transcript of both the "Evening News" and "Early Show" segments:

EVENING NEWS 6:30PM TEASER:

KATIE COURIC: Tonight, showdown over consumer safety.

NANCY PELOSI: I'm calling upon the President of the United States to ask for the resignation.

COURIC: The Speaker demands the ouster of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission after a summer of toy recalls and a raging battle over government regulation and the safety of the products we use.

6:31PM SEGMENT:

KATIE COURIC: Good evening, everyone. We're beginning tonight with a battle between Congress and the Bush Administration over the safety of the product we use and how much the government should regulate the companies that make them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission oversees about 15,000 products, from baby strollers to mattresses, but after the recall of more than 22 million dangerous toys, Democrats today demanded the acting chairman be recalled. Chip Reid is on Capitol Hill tonight. Chip?

CHIP REID: Well, good evening, Katie. The Bush Administration and the Democratic Congress have very different ideas on how the federal government should police product safety. And caught in the middle is the consumer. For months, U.S. consumers have been deluged with wave after wave of toy recalls from dolls to jewelry to toy cars. Today, key Democrats in Congress said enough and demanded that President Bush fire the head of the federal agency that overseas product safety.

NANCY PELOSI: I'm calling upon the President of the United States to ask for the resignation. It is, after all, his administration, his policy, his appointee.

REID: Pelosi says it's clear that Nancy Nord, the Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, doesn't understand the gravity of the situation because Nord opposes legislation now before Congress that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years to more than $141 million a year. And it would give the agency tough new tools to go after companies that make or market unsafe products. For example, raising the cap on penalties from $1.8 million to $100 million per offense and giving company employees big rewards for blowing the whistle on unsafe products.

NANCY NORD: Show me a bureaucrat who doesn't want more money.

REID: Nord says the Democrats have it all wrong. She agrees the agency is badly in need of more resources to modernize testing labs, some of which are straight out of the 1950s, and to help the agency's mere 420 full-time employees -- only 150 of whom are scientists -- handle hundreds of thousands of product safety reports. But Democrats, she says, want to change the mission of the agency to less testing of products and more litigation against companies.

NORD: And this agency will end up hiring lawyers rather than the scientists and the safety inspectors that I think we need.

REID: And as the head of an independent agency, Nord says she is acting on her own, but today a top Bush Administration official said the administration also agrees with her and opposes this bill for the same reasons. Katie?

COURIC: Chip, so the onus really is on U.S. companies because this legislation doesn't go after, say, the Chinese companies that have been manufacturing faulty toys?

REID: That's exactly right, Katie. The companies, though, American companies, though, have a huge incentive to keep those dangerous products off their shelves, because this legislation would allow federal and state prosecutors to go after American companies if those products do get through and try to get those huge fines, up to $100 million. Katie?

COURIC: Chip Reid on Capitol Hill tonight.

EARLY SHOW 7:05AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: "The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission is under fire this morning. She's in charge of all those toy recalls that have been scaring parents, and rightfully so. Now, there are calls for Nancy Nord to resign. CBS News Capitol Hill Correspondent Chip Reid has the story."

CHIP REID: "More than 22 million dangerous toys have been recalled in recent months, most because they contain unusually high levels of lead, which can cause brain damage or even death if ingested by young children. Many Democrats say the Bush Administration doesn't understand the gravity of the problem and are calling for Nancy Nord, head of the federal agency that oversees product safety, to step down."

NANCY PELOSI: "I think this is an employee of the Bush Administration and toy safety and product safety is not a priority for them."

REID: "Pelosi's chief gripe is that Nord actually opposes a bill that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years. Nord says she welcomes more resources but objects to other provisions of the bill she says would require the agency to spend more time pursuing companies in court and less time testing their products."

NANCY NORD: "We are going to be hiring lawyers, rather than safety inspectors, and I don't think that that benefits consumers."

REID: "As the head of an independent agency, Nord says she's not taking orders from the White House. But a top administration official wrote Congress that the administration does oppose the bill, which he said could produce a serious risk of meritless claims by bounty hunters by giving employees large financial rewards for blowing the whistle on the companies they work for. Consumer advocates say what's really going on here is the Bush Administration protecting big business at the expense of consumers, a charge the White House vigorously denies. Chip Reid, CBS News, Capitol Hill.

JULIE CHEN: Now we turn to the head of CPSC, Nancy Nord. Good morning.

NORD: Good morning.

CHEN: American parents are upset, they're frightened, they feel like their Halloween and their Christmas is now ruined. They don't know what to buy. Members of Congress are calling for your resignation. Are you going to resign?

NORD: At this point, I have no intention of resigning. I'm doing my job. And part of my job is to talk with Congress about the tools and resources that we need.

CHEN: Like what? What do you need?

NORD: I've asked Congress for statutory changes and more resources would be absolutely welcome. But we've got to make sure that we have the right tools and the right people.

CHEN: Well I think the American public wants specifics. What are the right tools, and what are the right people?

NORD: I want to be hiring more safety inspectors and scientists and compliance officers. I don't want to be hiring lawyers. I want some feet on the ground. I want people at the ports. I want people inspecting products. I don't want to send -- use our resources to send lawyers into court litigating, and that's my concern with the legislation.

CHEN: But I have to say, the American public, they're wondering this morning why you haven't been jumping up and down, waving your arms, demanding more funding before all this.

NORD: I sent a legislative proposal to Capitol Hill in July. I'm pleased to see that several of my proposals made it into the Senate bill. I have asked for resources. I've asked for statutory changes. But we need to make sure that the resources, the people, the tools that we have are the right tools to do our job.

CHEN: Well, what about the tool of Bob? Bob Is the only toy tester your organization has to test all the toys in the world. Why is that?

NORD: We have a number of people that test toys and work on toy safety. Unfortunately, Bob has become an urban myth. Bob Is a very dedicated employee, but he has a number of people helping him do his job.

CHEN: Well, you clearly need more. Do you have a team that you're ready to hire?

NORD: We are ready to staff up when Congress gives us the funds. The legislation is going to increase our work load many, many times. Unfortunately, the money that goes along with that work load increase is not there. So, I would like to see more resources, of course I would, but we've got to make sure that the resources and the responsibilities match.

CHEN: In the final 15 seconds, what's your response to those who think you are just simply too cozy with the manufacturers?

NORD: I'm dedicated to the mission of this agency. We work every day to make sure that the marketplace is safe for American consumers.

CHEN: Nancy Nord, thank you.

NORD: Thank you.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC