CBS ‘Early Show’ Interviews Blagojevich, No Democratic Mention

Harry Smith, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS ‘Early Show,’ embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was interviewed over the course of two segments, totaling 10 minutes, and was never described as a Democrat. Co-hosts Maggie Rodriguez, Harry Smith and Julie Chen all spoke with the governor at some point and none mentioned his political party. The only acknowledgment of the governor’s party affiliation was in an on-screen graphic that featured a ‘(D) Illinois’ label. A mention of Blagojevich’s political party was similarly lacking on Thursday’s Good Morning America on ABC.

In addition to Early Show hosts failing to note that Blagojevich was a Democrat, none of them asked the governor about any discussions he had with President Obama or other administration officials about filling Obama’s vacant Senate seat. In the second segment in the 7:30AM half hour, Blagojevich declared: "I want to bring Congressman Rahm -- president's chief of staff, my congressman, Rahm Emanuel...I want to bring Valerie Jarrett, who's a high-ranking official in the Obama administration." However, there was no follow-up question to clarify the connection those Obama administration officials had with Blagojevich. Despite such a lack of journalist curiosity, Julie Chen exclaimed at the top of the show: "Blago live. He's faced Larry and Barbara, but his toughest interview is ahead this morning."

Here is the full transcript of the 7:30AM segment:

7:32AM:

HARRY SMITH: Joining us once again, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, second day of his impeachment trial gets underway today in Springfield. The governor's not there, he's here talking on TV, as he did all day yesterday. And it was suggested that the real reason you're here talking to people, talking beyond the impeachment hearings, is the fact that you're trying to soften up the jury pool for when your federal trial starts. That this really has nothing about the impeachment. It's a fait accompli, it's a done deal, you have no chance of winning it anyway. So if you can soften up a jury pool, why not come and blab with guys like us?

ROD BLAGOJEVICH: That's a cynical interpretation. No, I'd like the senators to change those rules, give me a chance to bring in all the tapes and bring in witnesses so I can prove my innocence and I can stay on as governor.

SMITH: It could be cynical, but could it also be accurate?

BLAGOJEVICH: No, it's -- this is all about trying to do the best I can to persuade those senators to change their rules. We tried to talk to them. They've made a decision. It's a very strong political process. And unfortunately, again, there's a big principle involved, throwing out a governor elected twice by the people without giving that governor a chance to be able to bring witnesses in and prove his innocence and to bring charges that they are prevented from proving up. It's just so fundamentally unconstitutional and wrong.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: You said you didn't challenge those rules because you didn't think that you would win the challenge but you didn't even try to mount a legal challenge against these rules. You told us that in our previous interview. If you were allowed to bring the witnesses that you wanted, what witnesses would you bring and what would they say?

BLAGOJEVICH: I want to bring Congressman Rahm -- president's chief of staff, my congressman, Rahm Emanuel, who said on Face the Nation on your network a little over a week ago that there was nothing inappropriate in his conversations with me about his Senate pick. I want to bring Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., I want to bring Valerie Jarrett, who's a high-ranking official in the Obama administration. We've requested that in the house. They denied it. I want to bring U.S. senators in who I talked to, I'm going to bring in everybody and anybody that I talked to about the U.S. Senate seat who would show and prove that I did nothing wrong and I was doing everything to -- ultimately to get to a position where I did right by the people.

RODRIGUEZ: Have they all called you and expressed their support for you during this?

BLAGOJEVICH: You know, during times like this there's a saying that Dr. King had: 'In the end we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.' It's a very lonely period when things like this happen and people tend to be afraid to talk to you.

JULIE CHEN: Governor, let me -- let me just simply ask you, if you are innocent, why are they going after you?

BLAGOJEVICH: When you say 'they,' who are you referring to? The impeachment trial or-

CHEN: Yeah.

BLAGOJEVICH: Well it's -- part of the legislature's been trying to impeach me long before this happened. I went around the legislature and gave all of our senior citizens free public transportation. They were angry about that. I went around the legislature and gave all uninsured women in Illinois breast and cervical cancer screenings, mamograms and pap smears, to the 261,000 uninsured women, and if they find cancer, we treat that cancer. They wouldn't pass it. I found a creative way to do it around them, I found a way to protect 35,000 poor people who lost their health care under President Bush. A Democratic house wouldn't pass it and protect those families, I found a way around it. And their impeaching me -- those are some of the articles of impeachment. They're actually impeaching me for something I did my first term, which is Illinois was the first state to defy the FDA and go to Canada and get cheaper prescription medicines for senior citizens.

SMITH: Which is a program which -- of questionable success and a lot of people say doesn't actually work and actually probably costs more money than it's worth. It's interesting because your whole tactic on this seems to me, I'm a martyr. I'm Jimmy Stewart. I'm in a Frank Capra movie. Do you really think this is going to work, or is this just a roadside attraction?

BLAGOJEVICH: No. If present trends continue, I'll be out of work in the not-too-distant future, I'm not delusional in terms of what my likelihood of success is to convince those senators to give me a fair trial. And again, it's more important than me, it's about the people who twice elected me. You can't throw a governor out without giving that governor a chance to show he did nothing wrong. That's what they're doing. It's a dangerous precedent. But if you're asking me do I see myself like a modern-day Frank Capra movie, and I'm the Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper character, a guy ideologically -- or idealistically trying to do what's right for people, fighting a system and then they pushed back? Yeah, I see myself that way.

CHEN: Is resignation at all an option for you?

BLAGOJEVICH: No, I've said consistently that I won't resign for two reasons. One, I did nothing wrong and therefore I'm not going to acknowledge anything that I didn't do. Had I did something wrong, I'd have met my responsibilities and I would have resigned. That would have been my responsibility. Secondly, most importantly, I'm not going to resign. I have two little girls. And they're hearing a lot of bad things about their dad. For me to resign-

CHEN: What do you tell them at home?

BLAGOJEVICH: Well, for me to resign would be for me to basically say to them that they shouldn't feel that their dad isn't an honest man and I don't want to be in a position where they should be ashamed of their father. So I'll fight to the very end. In terms of what we tell our kids, it's a very difficult time for our family and our little girls -- my wife and I, we got them a little puppy during the Christmas holiday, something I was resisting for the last couple years. But when all this happened, it was a therapeutic thing for our girls. And they love their little puppy, and I think she's helping them through this.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Rod Blagojevich, thank you for coming in this morning.

BLAGOJEVICH: Thanks for having me.

RODRIGUEZ: Appreciate your time.

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