CBS ‘Early Show’ Praises Obama’s ‘Optimism Offensive’

Julie Chen and Bill Plante, CBS At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "Optimism offensive. An upbeat Ben Bernanke tells '60 Minutes' the economy could turn around within nine months." Chen later introduced the segment on the Obama administration’s new economic optimism: "...from bleak to bright. The Obama administration has switched its tone and is now saying the economy is on the road to recovery."

Correspondent Bill Plante reported: "... the administration's attempt to restore public confidence in the financial system, which is seen as weak both at home and abroad...The response, led by President Obama, is an offense of optimism." Plante focused entirely on the administration’s new tone, providing little substance or criticism. Also lacking, was any mention of John McCain’s efforts to instill economic confidence during the presidential campaign, for which he was derided.

Instead, Plante simply cited the new upbeat message being put out by Obama staffers: "Even though stimulus funds are just beginning to be spent, and the bank rescue details have yet to be announced, the message from administration officials is confidence." A clip was played of economic advisor Lawrence Summers exclaiming: "Don’t panic." That was followed by White House advisor Christina Romer declaring: "The stimulus package, the financial rescue plan, the housing plan, we think it's the right medicine, and we think it will work."

Plante then touted: "Even the Fed chairman, in a first-ever '60 Minutes' interview, is on board." A clip of Bernanke was played: "And I do think that we will get it stabilized and we'll see the recession coming to an end, probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year."

Plante’s report did feature one supposed expert, Amy Walter of National Journal’s Hotline, who sounded just like a member of the Obama economic team: "The President's job right now is to make sure that the public gets a sense of confidence to continue to help move the economy along." Plante concluded: "So today's message, new help for small business and a note of optimism for consumers."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: Optimism offensive. An upbeat Ben Bernanke tells '60 Minutes' the economy could turn around within nine months.

BEN BERNANKE: We'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year.

7:02AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: But first, from bleak to bright. The Obama administration has switched its tone and is now saying the economy is on the road to recovery. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has the story. Bill, good morning.

BILL PLANTE: Morning, Julie. Well, the first thing the President will do today is announce new help for small business as part of his attempt to get the economy moving again. In the plan he'll announce today, the government will pump another $10 billion into buying up small business loans for which there's currently no market. Today's move is part of the administration's attempt to restore public confidence in the financial system, which is seen as weak both at home and abroad. So weak that the Chinese premier expressed concern about his country's investments in U.S. Treasury bonds. The response, led by President Obama, is an offense of optimism.

BARACK OBAMA: Not just the Chinese government, but every investor, can have absolute confidence in the soundness of investments in the United States.

PLANTE: Even though stimulus funds are just beginning to be spent, and the bank rescue details have yet to be announced, the message from administration officials is confidence.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS: Don't panic.

CHRISTINA ROMER: The stimulus package, the financial rescue plan, the housing plan, we think it's the right medicine, and we think it will work.

PLANTE: Even the Fed chairman, in a first-ever '60 Minutes' interview, is on board.

BEN BERNANKE: And I do think that we will get it stabilized and we'll see the recession coming to an end, probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year.

PLANTE: Analyst Amy Walters says Wall Street's recent upswing gives the President an opportunity.

AMY WALTER [NATIONAL JOURNAL, HOTLINE]: The President's job right now is to make sure that the public gets a sense of confidence to continue to help move the economy along.

PLANTE: But, right now Americans are saving 5% of their disposable income, and that is a huge increase over the usual. And as long as Americans are saving, not spending, and banks aren't lending, the crunch will continue. So today's message, new help for small business and a note of optimism for consumers. Maggie.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Bill Plante at the White House, thank you, Bill.

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