CBS ‘Early Show’ Discusses New Guiliani Scandal, Gave Hillary Pass

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterOn Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased the lead story of the day on a scandal involving Rudy Giuliani and the possible misuse of taxpayer money during Giuliani’s affair with now wife, Judith Nathan, "Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani goes on the attack against Romney as the former New York Mayor's extramarital scandals of the past return to haunt his campaign." This story came prior to analysis of the Republican YouTube debate on CNN and followed a story about the scandal on Wednesday’s "CBS Evening News."

CBS of course pounded Giuliani on the indictment of former NYPD Commissioner, Bernard Kerik, just three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the CBS "Early Show" never covered the Hillary Clinton fund raising scandal involving Norman Hsu. In addition, when Harry Smith interviewed author Sally Bedell Smith on her new book on the Clinton marriage in October, he never once referred to any of Bill Clinton’s "extramarital scandals."

Co-host Hannah Storm later introduced the segment, "But first the scandal that is rocking the presidential campaign of Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani. CBS News National Correspondent Byron Pitts has the story that won't go away." Apparently the Hillary-Hsu scandal never even arrived.

Pitts reported that, "...while no one can say for sure he was visiting Nathan on these trips, the mere suggestion threatens to derail his campaign in a field of candidates who continually stress their devotion to family values." However, Clinton directly accepting donations from a known felon did not warrant such a proclamation from the CBS morning show.

After the report by Pitts, Storm discussed the scandal with John Harris, Editor in Chief of "The Politico," which broke the story:

STORM: So last night in the presidential debate, Rudy said that your report is flat out wrong. He said, 'hey since I've been in the U.S. Attorney's office, I had death threats, I had security 24/7, what's wrong with that?' Is that explanation enough to make it go away?

HARRIS: Well, for people who are interested in the details of the story that Ben Smith broke on politico yesterday, no, it's not. Because the question wasn't whether he had security, we always assumed he had 24/7. The question is why was he hiding the security expenses for his relationship at that time, still an extramarital affair with Judith Nathan, why was he hiding them in obscure city agencies to help -- one agency was for lawyers for needy defendants, another for loft control.

However, Harris had a slightly different take when discussing the media coverage of the Clinton campaign in the wake of the Hsu scandal. In a September 30 article on politico.com he explained that:

The spate of stories does indeed reflect an element of media groupthink, and the tendency of the political press to pile on, to switch storylines to make the coverage more exciting, and to find new twists on broad themes that have been articulated in a few high-profile news outlets.... The senator’s supporters can take comfort in the fact that the new skepticism is a backhanded but distinct compliment: The press corps thinks it knows where the train is heading and doesn’t want it to happen too fast.

So I guess that Harris’s coverage of the Giuliani scandal is just "a backhanded but distinct compliment" as well.

When Storm mentioned that Giuliani "says he knew nothing about" the scandal, Harris quickly countered, "Look, he's responsible as the mayor of New York. Somebody was clearly trying to help him cover his tracks is the way it looks." The same kind of responsibility that Harris did not demand of Hillary Clinton.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Breaking news overnight. Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani goes on the attack against Romney as the former New York Mayor's extramarital scandals of the past return to haunt his campaign.

7:01AM:

JULIE CHEN: I'm Julie Chen. Hannah Storm, as you can see, is in Washington where the Christmas bells are ringing and the presidential campaign scandals are brewing.

HANNAH STORM: That's right, Julie. It is crackling here. And in this half hour, our insider's look at the latest Rudy Giuliani scandal. Were -- did his love nest affair, were those costs actually charged to taxpayers?

7:02AM SEGMENT:

HANNAH STORM: But first the scandal that is rocking the presidential campaign of Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani. CBS News National Correspondent Byron Pitts has the story that won't go away.

BYRON PITTS: While the candidates sought to stay on message during Wednesday night's debate, national front-runner Rudy Giuliani found himself mired in a scandal that threatens to bring his less than perfect personal life front and center.

RUDY GIULIANI: First of all, it's not true. I had 24-hour security for the eight years that I was mayor. I had nothing to do with the handling of their records. And they were handled, as far as I know, perfectly appropriately.

PITTS: The problem stems from some unusual billing accounts uncovered by the website politico.com, dating back to the year 2000. According to the report, Giuliani was just beginning the now well-known, but then budding and somewhat secretive, extramarital relationship with his current wife, Judith Nathan. Newly uncovered documents reveal that obscure city agencies were billed thousands of dollars in expenses for Giuliani's police security detail in the Hamptons, the Long Island summer hotspot where Nathan was living. For example, in one instance, $34,000 worth of travel expenses were placed in the budget for the New York City Loft Board. And while no one can say for sure he was visiting Nathan on these trips, the mere suggestion threatens to derail his campaign in a field of candidates who continually stress their devotion to family values.

LARRY SABATO: It's coming out at the worst possible time for Giuliani, just as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are beginning to make up their minds finally.

PITTS: Byron Pitts, CBS News, New York.

HANNAH STORM: We're joined now by John Harris, Editor in Chief of politico.com, which is a CBS News partner in political coverage. Morning, John.

JOHN HARRIS: Good morning, Hannah.

STORM: So last night in the presidential debate, Rudy said that your report is flat out wrong. He said, 'hey since I've been in the U.S. Attorney's office, I had death threats, I had security 24/7, what's wrong with that?' Is that explanation enough to make it go away?

HARRIS: Well, for people who are interested in the details of the story that Ben Smith broke on politico yesterday, no, it's not. Because the question wasn't whether he had security, we always assumed he had 24/7. The question is why was he hiding the security expenses for his relationship at that time, still an extramarital affair with Judith Nathan, why was he hiding them in obscure city agencies to help -- one agency was for lawyers for needy defendants, another for loft control.

STORM: But he says he knew nothing about that.

HARRIS: Look, he's responsible as the mayor of New York. Somebody was clearly trying to help him cover his tracks is the way it looks.

STORM: So why wouldn't this, because the security falls under the jurisdiction of the NYPD, just been expensed straight to them?

HARRIS: Great question. That's the question we had going in, when we saw these documents, it's the question that's still not answered by the Giuliani camp.

STORM: Alright, let's look at the cumulative effect of this, because we have the Bernard Kerik scandal, we have the three marriages, we have his liberal stance on social issues. At some point, is there a tipping point for conservative voters and could this be it?

HARRIS: Well look, you know, Ronald Reagan was called the Teflon President. So far, Rudy Giuliani's been the Teflon Candidate. Many of us have expected these -- this accumulation of problems or inconsistencies with conservative positions to be a big problem already and that he would have -- this would have affected him in the polls months ago. It hasn't. A lot of voters are looking at Rudy Giuliani, they surely know these things, they're deciding there's other things they like about him and they're dismissing this stuff.

STORM: Alright, but what about the timing of this report? Because he's not doing well in Iowa. He's not leading in New Hampshire. Those primaries are about over a month away. How could this affect that?

HARRIS: Well it's obviously not a positive. It's obviously, I'd say, a reminder that Giuliani's personal life, let's face it, it's not The Brady Bunch, but people know that. He doesn't want that reminder. He -- you're quite right, he's got to compete well in Iowa and New Hampshire where he's not in the lead, and then try to get the race nationally, where he is in the lead. If he can get to Super Tuesday in a strong position, he feels like, that he can take -- walk to the nomination.

STORM: Well, we'll see if this sticks and if it has life. Alright John Harris --

HARRIS: Good luck with your interview.

STORM: Yeah, thanks. Well I have the First Lady coming up, right. Thank you very much. John Harris of politico.com.

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