In an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl for CBS's Sunday Morning, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin made his latest attack against Sarah Palin, ranting: "I have a big problem with people who glamorize dumbness. And demonize education and intellect. And I'm giving a pretty good description of Sarah Palin right now." [Audio available here]
Stahl made no effort to challenge Sorkin's vicious personal attacks, simply remarking: "He seems to be having a second career these days, going after Sarah Palin. In an essay for The Huffington Post, he called her a 'witless bully.'" Given the media's concern with civility and harsh political rhetoric in the wake of the Tucson shooting, one wonders why Stahl did not condemn such language.
On Thursday, Louisiana Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman found that the Obama Interior Department was in contempt of his ruling that the offshore oil drilling moratorium, imposed by the administration in 2010, was unconstitutional. After Feldman struck down the initial drilling ban, the Interior Department simply established a second ban that was virtually identical.
While the story was reported on Thursday by wire services like the Associated Press and picked up by frequently cited internet news sites like Politico, the television media, including ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN, all ignored the story.
On his Wednesday 4PM ET show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan denounced the fact that the recent Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), convened to detail the causes of the 2008 economic collapse, only had a budget of $8 million, while back in 1998, the "Clinton-Lewinsky blowjob investigation" had a $40 million budget. He was apparently referring to special prosecutor Ken Starr investigating perjury charges against the former president.
The report from the FCIC was highly partisan, with the six Democrats on the commission claiming that primary reason for the financial crisis was the lack of government regulation in the private sector. As a result, the four Republican commissioner refused to sign on to the findings and released their own dissenting report.
In a pre-taped interview with gun control advocate New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, aired during Wednesday's 1PM ET hour on MSNBC, host Andrea Mitchell browbeat President Obama for having "absolutely nothing, not one word....not even a sentence" about gun control in his State of the Union address.
Prior to the interview, Mitchell touted Bloomberg's anti-gun crusade: "Michael Bloomberg is on a mission, a mission to curb guns, especially the semiautomatic pistols and the magazine used in Tucson. He sent New York undercover investigators to buy guns and ammo at a Phoenix gun show last month." While she noted how the Arizona attorney general "says Bloomberg overstepped his bounds" she seemed to cheer the Mayor's defiance: "I talked to the mayor last night and he's only just beginning to fight."
Speaking to physicist Michio Kaku on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge fretted over the recent series of severe winter storms and wondered: "...nine storms in seven weeks, why is this happening?...a lot of people want to talk about global warming and thinking that that may actually come into play here. Is that accurate? Is that having an effect on what's going on?"
Dr. Kaku agreed with the suggestion: "Yes. It seems to violate common sense, but as the Earth begins to heat up, that means more moist air in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico on average. Which creates more precipitation, and eventually more snow." Wragge followed up: "Is this going to continue?" Kaku argued: "...on average, temperatures are going to rise. Remember, last year was the hottest year ever recorded in the history of science, next to 2005, since 1880. So the Earth is heating up. We can debate exactly what's driving it. But, hey, get used to it. We're going to have more energy sloshing around the Earth, more extremes, and swings."
Teasing an upcoming story on new federal dietary guidelines on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith announced: "The assault on salt. Chances are you are eating too much of it." Smith later introduced the segment by fretting: "Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese, an epidemic that is expected to send health care costs skyrocketing."
In the report that followed, correspondent Michelle Miller explained: "USDA is now urging Americans...to wean themselves off excess sodium and improve their overall eating habits." She spoke with nutritionist Lisa Young, who insisted, "We need to get the food industry on board." Miller declared: "...the problem is the salt that's already in processed foods....That's why the government is now pressuring food companies to cut the salt in their products or face regulation."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, news reader Jeff Glor declared: "Former First Daughter Barbara Bush is taking a very public stand in support of same-sex marriage." After a sound bite was played of Bush doing a video for the left-wing group New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, Glor added: "During his presidency, her father pushed an amendment banning same-sex marriage."
While Glor touted the move on air, on CBSNews.com's Political Hotsheet blog on Tuesday, an article on Bush's advocacy proclaimed: "Barbara has had gay friends dating back at least to her time at Yale University, and her support for same-sex marriage comes as no surprise to her friends. She used to take one gay friend to the White House for dinner with her family when she was in Washington."
On CBS's Sunday Morning, 'Fast Draw' cartoonist Josh Landis commented on people believing in false claims despite evidence to the contrary and warned: "Some false beliefs might make you laugh but others are dangerous, like the belief, debunked again this month, that vaccines cause autism."
But CBS News didn't admit to viewers that while that belief has been repeatedly disproved by scientific studies, CBS has often presented the idea as a possible credible cause of autism in children. A report on the disease on the July 14, 2005 broadcast of the CBS Evening News featured a sound bite from left-wing environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who argued that a chemical once widely used in vaccines was a cause of autism: "The science connecting brain damage with thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming."
At the top of the 7:30AM ET half hour on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge happily proclaimed: "After 130 years, [Thomas] Edison's invention is basically being phased out....The government is replacing the incandescent bulb with a much more energy efficient light."
Wragge portrayed the government ban as a new "choice" for consumers: "Consumers will now have a choice of two different kinds of bulbs, the CFL and LED and we're going to tell you the difference and which one is better for you, which one's going to be a little more cost effective." Co-host Erica Hill lamented: "It's a tough transition....It's hard to let go." Wragge reassured her: "Well, we're going to hopefully make that process a little easier for you." Hill concluded: "It's been a good run, Thomas Edison."
Reporting on the creation of a Senate Tea Party Caucus on Thursday's CBS Evening News, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes declared that while "Conservative crusader Jim Demint, and the freshmen Senators he worked to elect, planted their Tea Party flag,"the movement's "assertiveness has caused some heartburn for GOP leaders."
As evidence of the supposed indigestion, Cordes cited favorite media targets, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: "Bachmann insisted on delivering a separate Tea Party response to the State of the Union....Tea Party enthusiast Sarah Palin invoked a vulgar acronym to describe the President's speech." Cordes was referring to Palin's comment that "There were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech."
At the top of Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge cheered President Obama's recent Q & A on YouTube: "Obama opens up. The President answers YouTube questions on everything from the war in Afghanistan to the Super Bowl. We'll go live to the White House for the latest on his version of the Fireside Chat."
While Frankin Roosevelt used his famous radio 'Fireside Chats' to keep the American people informed on public policy during the Great Depression, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante touted how with Obama, "the questions were less political and more personal. Like, what's he giving Michelle for Valentine's Day?" Another important topic of discussion: "He was asked his pick to win the Super Bowl. Mr. Obama is running for re-election and he went with the politically safe answer."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric proclaimed: "The federal commission that investigated the financial meltdown has reportedly concluded it could have been avoided. The New York Times says a report due out tomorrow finds plenty of fault to go around, including mismanagement by corporations and lax regulation by the government."
Couric made sure to point out: "The report also says that contrary to popular belief, the government's push to increase home ownership in this country was not a major contributor to the meltdown." What she failed to mention was that New York Times article also explained: "The partisan nature of the findings, however, could undermine its impact. Of the 10 commission members, only the six appointed by Democrats...attended the news conference [publicizing the report]." It went on to add: "The four Republican commissioners have prepared two separate dissents; three of them planned to hold a conference call Thursday afternoon."
Prior to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric wondered what the message of the midterm elections was, to which political analyst Jeff Greenfield replied: "You've got 87 new members of the House, many of whom are fired up with a kind of militancy we very rarely see, even among new members."
Greenfield went to proclaim: "One of the things Obama politically is going to try to do – not just tonight but over the next year – is to separate out the middle from what he will try to paint as a much too ideological Republican majority." He then used the "militant" label a second time in describing tensions between new Tea Party members and Republican leadership: "It's also going to be a lot of pressure on new Speaker – the new House Speaker John Boehner. I mean, there's a tension between John Boehner and the more militant Tea Party folks."
During coverage of President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, all three broadcast networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, managed to compare the tone of the speech to that of Ronald Reagan. Reporters and pundits uniformly praised the supposed optimism of Obama. [Audio available here]
On CBS, Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted how political analyst Jeff Greenfield thought it was "down right Reaganesque" and that "some" have argued "this could be his Reagan moment." Greenfield himself declared: "He kept talking about winning the future and that was always a big theme about Reagan....the constant reiteration of optimism....he was clearly striking rhetorical notes that reminded me of Mr. Reagan."
Talking to New York Senator Chuck Schumer on Sunday's Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer said of a video statement released by President Obama on Saturday: "If I didn't know better and had my eyes closed I might have thought that was President Reagan talking." Schieffer specifically referred to Obama's call for spending cuts, noting: "It sounded very much like a speech that a Republican would make."
After Schumer promised his party was serious about deficit reduction, Schieffer proceeded to characterize Republican calls for spending cuts in much less flattering light: "Eric Cantor said this morning, under hard questioning I should add, that yes indeed cancer research would also be on the table when you talk about cutting spending. Can you envision cuts in cancer research?"
On MSNBC's Ed Show on Thursday, despite initially regretting his comparison of Republicans to Nazis, Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen later doubled down: "[Indiana Congressman] Mike Pence talked about government takeover of health care....he wants to be concise, careful, and consistent. Well, that's somebody...who lived in a previous century who worked for bad people, that's what he did." [Audio available here]
Host Ed Schultz offered no challenge to that statement as he wrapped up the segment, simply replying, "sure." In the question that preceded Cohen's attack on Pence, Schultz even tried to defend the Tennessee Congressman's Tuesday outburst on the House floor in which he claimed Republicans were using Nazi propaganda tactics in their opposition to ObamaCare: "I think a lot of liberals in this country admire you for calling them [Republicans] liars because the numbers are what they are....you're talking about a messaging machine that they definitely have followed to get their point across about health care, which you think is having an effect."
Following a segment on American school children learning Chinese as a second language at the end of Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric tried her hand at reciting part of her sign off in Mandarin, telling viewers, "míngtianjiàn wanan," meaning, "See you tomorrow, good night." [Audio available here]
In the prior report, correspondent Terry McCarthy was critical of Americans for not having better foreign language skills: "Americans generally assume everyone speaks English....But Americans do not generally share such multilingual talents." He then cheered efforts in one Los Angeles elementary school to teach Chinese alongside English, starting in Kindergarten: "These kids have been studying Chinese for four years and they're pretty good....the Chinese immersion program is so popular, they have a waiting list."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric was dismissive of a vote by House Republicans to repeal ObamaCare as she asked congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes: "There is no chance this repeal will succeed, it's a largely symbolic measure. So what's the point?" Cordes described it as "the first step in their long-term effort to wipe this health care law off the books."
Cordes proclaimed that "The party line vote capped a vigorous debate....In which Republicans vilified the health care law, and Democrats exalted it." However, only seconds earlier in the report, an image appeared on screen of the House of Representatives vote tally, showing that three Democratic members of Congress joined Republicans in voting for repeal. No sound bites of those three Democrats were featured.
Wednesday's CBS Early Show adopted a hostile tone in its coverage of the upcoming vote by House Republicans to repeal ObamaCare, with co-host Chris Wragge proclaiming: "The battle over health care heats up again today. The House plans a vote on repealing the legislation. It fulfills a campaign promise for Republicans and begins a two-year effort to try to dismantle the law."
In the report that followed, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes portrayed the GOP as an eager aggressor: "This is a day that House Republicans have been waiting for, for months. The day that they get to vote to undo a law that they fiercely oppose." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "GOP vs. Obama; House to Vote on Repealing Healthcare Reform."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on Sarah Palin's first interview since the Tucson shooting: "She accused the Left and the news media of trying to destroy her message, trying to destroy her, said she was being accused of being an accessory to murder." Cordes forgot to mention her role in furthering those accusations against the former Alaska governor.
After playing a clip of Palin's Monday interview on Fox News' Hannity, Cordes mentioned: "The early response I'm hearing from some on the Left about this interview is, 'Look we never said she was an accessory to murder, we simply said she was an accessory to in-civility in politics.'" On the day of the shooting, reporting for the CBS Evening News, Cordes implied Palin played a role in inciting the violence: "Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in cross hairs on a Sarah Palin campaign Web site last spring. Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, after reporting claims from Ron Reagan Jr. that President Ronald Reagan may have had Alzheimer's Disease while in office, co-host Erica Hill asked other son Michael Reagan about those accusations: "And your brother has said this is just his own feeling....Could it be possible there may have been something else? Could he [President Reagan] have had dementia?"
Michael rejected the notion: "No, he didn't have dementia. Look what he accomplished in the last four years of his presidency. Reykjavik, START agreements, all the things he accomplished. The speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987 on June 12th. Look what he accomplished in those last four years. Someone with dementia does not accomplish all of those things." He went on to say of his brother: "...we don't even know in the family if Ron voted for his father back in 1981 or in 1984 when he ran for President."
The liberal media wasted no time in trying to exploit the shooting in Tucson, Arizona by blaming Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and conservatives in general for creating a "culture of violence" that led to the tragedy. Here is a video compilation of journalists and pundits promoting the meme in the hours and days that followed.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips declared how the beatification of Pope John Paul II to sainthood was moving "at break-neck speed" and noted that "Groups protesting the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal are urging the Vatican to slow down the process."
Despite the protests, Phillips remarked that "the current pope, Benedict XVI, seems determined to charge ahead with the canonization of his extremely popular predecessor." Earlier in the report, he suggested John Paul II's road to sainthood was a short cut: "It normally takes centuries for major Church figures to reach sainthood and join the saintly statues on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica. But John Paul II has been fast-tracked."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill noted President Obama "calling for a little bit of a detente" in the wake of the Tucson shooting and wondered, "is this civility going to last?" Political analyst John Dickerson argued: "There will be one small test next week as House Republicans bring up the repeal of the health care bill."
Dickerson criticized the name of the repeal legislation: "What used to be called the 'Job-Killing Health Care Bill,' which now of course has – operates in a much different context." Hill followed up: "Can the President make that, I guess, good will, for lack of a better word, last past the State of the Union in a couple of weeks?" Dickerson asserted: "Health care will be a bit of a sideshow because it won't really go anywhere after the House does it its work on that bill. But on the budget, on lifting the debt ceiling, on some of these other issues, there will have to be actual cooperation."
During a bipartisan panel discussion with members of Congress on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric asked about the role of political rhetoric in the Tucson shooting, to which Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz replied: "After my daughter heard...Gabby [Giffords] had been shot, the first thing she asked me was...'Mommy, are you going to get shot?'"
Schultz went on to recall: "...the next thing she said to me was – and this is where you don't realize how closely they're watching – 'But Mommy, Florida's going to pass an immigration law like Arizona and then people are going to be mad at you.'" The Congresswoman concluded: "The civil discourse is very important because it's not just – it's not just adults that – that this permeates. It's our children." Couric did not challenge Schultz's suggestion that the enforcement of stronger immigration laws would cause violence.
At the top of Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric lamented: "The President tries to comfort a nation in mourning, but even on a rare day of unity, politics and controversy intervene." A clip was then played of Sarah Palin's Facebook video reaction to the Tucson shooting and media finger-pointing: "Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel."
Later, correspondent Chip Reid reported that in his speech at the memorial service for the victims, "one thing we're told he [President Obama] will not do is get into the political battle that's developed over this tragedy." Reid then added: "a battle that became even more heated today when Sarah Palin joined the fray."
Introducing a segment on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric acknowledged the latest CBS News poll showing that 57% of Americans do not believe heated political rhetoric had anything to do with the Tucson shooting. Even so, she added: "Just the same, nearly half say the discourse has become less civil than it was ten years ago."
The poll numbers that appeared on screen showed that 49% of respondents thought political discourse was less civil than a decade ago, while 33% saw the civility level about the same, and 15 % thought the current political climate was more civil. In other words, Americans are evenly divided over the question, with 48% seeing no decline in civility over the last ten years.
On Monday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric announced that Democratic Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik had "been thrust into the national spotlight for some remarks he made," adding, "he's not backing down." In the interview that followed, Dupnik asserted: "If you're in law enforcement and you're not a right-winger you get all kinds of heat from the right-wing nuts."
Couric noted how Dupnik "blamed the rampage in part on overheated political rhetoric, saying Arizona has become, quote, 'a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.'" She acknowledged that "some Republicans have called his remarks irresponsible" and challenged the Sheriff: "Some people would say you were overly politicizing the situation. That it appears at this juncture – although it's unclear – that this was a lone deranged individual that might not have been inspired to do this at all for political reasons." Dupnik laughingly professed: "I'm not a political person by nature. I've been a police officer my entire life. I have no agenda."
On Monday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric used the Tucson shooting to go after gun ownership: "As we reported, Jared Loughner purchased his gun legally....Saturday's attack is now putting the state's gun laws under a magnifying glass." In the report that followed, correspondent Dean Reynolds declared: "Arizona has among the most permissive gun laws in the nation."
Reynolds portrayed Arizona's commitment to gun rights as a danger: "The right to keep and bear arms here extends to weapons in cars, restaurants, and even bars....you can literally go on a shopping spree armed from store to store." He seemed aghast at the idea that guns may be allowed on Arizona college campuses: "And now there are proposals pending in the state legislature here that would allow college faculty and even college students, like those here at the University of Arizona, to carry concealed weapons on campus."
Reynolds spoke with former Democratic Mayor of Tucson Tom Volgy, who argued: "I think in the state of Arizona it is easier to purchase a weapon like that [a Glock semiautomatic] than it is to get a driver's license."