While reporting on a popular Miami priest, Father Alberto Cutie, getting caught on a beach with a woman, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with CBS religion analyst Father Thomas Williams and criticized the Catholic Church for requiring a vow of celibacy for priests: "The Catholic Church, as you know, has been criticized, and you and I have talked about this, for being outdated and losing both parishioners and people who may want to serve, because it is so rigid. Do you think it's time for the Catholic Church to reconsider the vow of celibacy that it requires of its priests?" Williams replied: "Well, I'm not really sure. I think you can't attribute an act of unfaithfulness to the institution itself. It would be kind of like saying that adultery is caused by marriage. It doesn't really make sense."
Just before talking to Williams, Rodriguez admitted: "I should, in the interest of full disclosure, say that Father Albert is a family friend whom I've known for many, many years." At the end of the segment, Rodriguez added: "Yeah, just a couple of weeks ago he [Father Cutie] officiated my niece's wedding. I haven't talked to her about how she feels about this. But yeah, we've known him for many, many years. And he wants to continue serving God." Instead of taking Rodriguez off the story because of this personal connection, its appears CBS kept her on it because they thought it added an interesting angle, even if it made objectivity impossible.
While a segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show reported on an upcoming book by Elizabeth Edwards in which she discusses her reaction to husband John Edwards having an affair, at no time was Edwards’ Democratic Party affiliation mentioned. Co-host Maggie Rodriguez began the story: "But first, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, is about to release a memoir called 'Resilience.' Mrs. Edwards, who has cancer, speaks out about her husband's very public betrayal of her, an affair with a former campaign worker."
In a report by correspondent Bianca Soloranzo, past infidelities of Democratic politicians were mentioned, but no party affiliations were given: "Elizabeth Edwards joins a long line of political wives who have stood by their cheating spouses." A clip of former President Bill Clinton was played: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate." A clip was also played of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family." Beth Frerking of Politico was quoted downplaying such affairs: " I think when people marry people that go into politics or have ambitions to go into politics, they know that this is part of the package. And I think really it's the exception when that spouse leaves."
Following the report, Rodriguez spoke with psychologist Robi Ludwig about the frequency of politicians cheating on their spouses, but prefaced the discussion by exclaiming: "First of all, we should say we're not in their house, we're not in their shoes, we don't know why they made the decision they made...Very important, I think, to point out." Rodriguez never made that disclaimer when making personal judgments about Bristol Palin or Miss California Carrie Prejean.
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on the possibility of Miss California, Carrie Prejean, losing her crown over some racy photos: "And will Carrie lose her crown? Suggestive photos of the already controversial Miss California hit the internet. Are they a deal-breaker?" Later co-host Harry Smith similarly declared: "More hot water for Miss California. Millions heard her pageant answer, controversy that ensued about that. And now she may be adding the word 'former' to her title. We'll tell you why."
Prejean became "controversial" when she expressed her opposition to gay marriage while responding to a question from Miss USA pageant judge and liberal gay blogger, Perez Hilton. On April 21, the Early Show gave Hilton the opportunity to continue to attack Prejean, while failing call him out on vulgar insults he used against the beauty contestant. On May 1, Rodriguez went after Prejean for reportedly getting breast implants paid for by pageant organizers: "...this time it isn't about her views on gay marriage, but rather, about her figure...She said those were her real feelings. But now it appears something about Carrie Prejean may not be so real."
At the end of Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bill Whitaker gave a fawning report on a book being complied of children’s letters to President Obama: "Eight-year-old Lucy O'Brien loves to draw, ask her dad, a fine antiques dealer...She also knows times are hard at dad's business...So when her mother told her about a 'Dear Mr. President' contest, lucky winners' art and letters presented to President Obama, she poured her heart into it." The young girl explained to Whitaker: "I had added like, confetti, and stuff like that, and then I added 'hope' on the top to show for the future that there's hope for maybe the economy or something."
Whitaker spoke with the book’s creator and CEO of the website kidthing.com, Larry Hitchcock, who described some of the other letters: "We had to extend the deadline because so many were coming in...A 6-year-old who just wants the President to ‘make it rain candy’...’Poor people should have food.’" A clip was played of one girl asking the President: "Please take care of the environment." Later, Hitchcock declared: "There's a theme through all of it of hope and kind of belief that tomorrow's going to be a better day."
Following controversial comments about the death of former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp by newly Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter on Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, neither Sunday’s CBS Evening News nor Monday’s Early Show made any mention of the remarks.
While talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, Specter suggested that if members of Congress had supported his legislative efforts on cancer research funding, people like Kemp may still be alive and certain cancers may have been cured:
And one of the items that I’m working on, Bob, is funding for medical research. I’ve been the spear carrier to increase medical research. And I’ve even established a Web site, specterforthecure.com, to try to get people to put more pressure on Congress to join me in getting more funding. This medical research has been a reawakening-- the ten billion dollars. We were about to lose a whole generation of scientists. And now they’re enthused. There are fifteen thousand applications to be granted. If we had pursued what President Nixon declared in 1970 as the war on cancer, we would have cured many strains. I think Jack Kemp would be alive today. And that research has saved or prolonged many lives, including mine. Now, as the New York Times pointed out in a column today, when you talk about life and death and medical research, that’s a much more major consideration on what I can do, continuing in the Senate, contrasted with which party I belong to.
Apparently, CBS did not see anything controversial in such a self-aggrandizing statement.
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, correspondent David Martin reported on the "soft approach" to terrorism in Saudi Arabia: "Each time the United States releases Saudis from the prison at Guantanamo, the kingdom dispatches a 747 to Cuba to pick them up...the Saudi government is paying for cars, homes, even marriages for these reformed jihadists."
After explaining that "...more than half the so-called 'detainees' will probably never go before a jury because the U.S. government does not have a case that will stand up in court," Martin went on to describe a Saudi Arabian program for released detainees: "What we found is a rehabilitation program that attempts to make solid citizens out of holy warriors by convincing them Bin Laden has it all wrong."
Not only did Martin highlight the Saudi efforts to "rehabilitate" terror suspects, but he explained: "Some Saudis have been in Guantanamo for seven years, and Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Hadlaq believes the longer a man is there, the harder he is to treat." Martin then asked Hadlaq, a Saudi psychologist who runs the program: "They come out of Guantanamo hating Americans?...Is there evidence that Guantanamo has made them more radical?" Hadlaq replied: "I think so, yes. Because, in their journey, you know, from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, they have faced a lot of torturing. It's so important to deal with this, you know, issue of torture."
In response, Martin added: "‘Torture’ is, of course, a loaded word, but at the very least, the treatment en route to Guantanamo was rough, and provided the raw material for Al Qaeda propaganda videos to drum up new recruits."
During the 3PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie for reaction to President Obama’s surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to discuss the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter: "Savannah, let me just start with you, the shock factor. I mean, you've got that seat right there by where the President walked out. Were you surprised?" Guthrie replied: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting." [audio for download here]
Guthrie went on to explain: "I had kind of been giving Gibbs a little bit of a hard time, saying, 'look, why does everyone in Washington know this and you're telling us there's been no communication between Justice Souter, the Supreme Court, and the White House?' And sure enough, the President walks in and said ‘I just got off the phone with Justice Souter.’" O’Donnell asked: "Are you suggesting, Savannah, it was your questions that were the reason the President walked out? Because that sounds like where you're going with this." Guthrie humbly replied: "Well, I'm not quite that self-centered. But all I'm saying is I'm very happy to have my question answered, and certainly, personally by the President."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez attacked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, over reports that the beauty pageant contestant had breast implants: "Miss California in another scandal. Did pageant organizers pay for her to get breast implants?" Rodriguez later teased the upcoming segment: "And another controversy for Miss California. This time over just how natural a beauty she really is."
Prejean, who expressed her opposition to gay marriage in response to a question during the Miss USA pageant, has been continually criticized in the media for her views. During the Friday story, Rodriguez remarked: "But first, another controversy for Miss California. But this time it isn't about her views on gay marriage, but rather, about her figure...She said those were her real feelings. But now it appears something about Carrie Prejean may not be so real."
Rodriguez later spoke with the co-director of the Miss California Organization, Keith Lewis, and asked about the organization providing funding for the procedure: "Why does that improve her odds of winning? Why in that meeting don't you discourage her from going that route, rather than help her to pay for breast implants?" Lewis replied: " It's a personal choice. Well, I think that -- I think that it's about how a woman feels about herself. In terms of, for me, it's not a personal choice that I would recommend. But at the same time, I know so many women that have done the procedure, and feel better about themselves and the way they present themselves."
While reporting on the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter on Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Wyatt Andrews explained: "Souter quickly stunned conservatives in 1992, casting the crucial fifth vote to uphold Roe vs. Wade in the landmark abortion case Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Souter evolved into one of the court's more liberal justices."
Andrews went on declare that: "Obama specifically promised to appoint justices who are pro-abortion rights." A clip of Obama on the campaign trail was played: "That's why I am committed to appointing judges who understand how our laws operate in our daily lives, judges who will uphold the core values of our Constitution, that's why I won't back down when it comes to defending the freedom of women." Andrews concluded: "In the search for his replacement, the President will face significant pressure, not just to name a liberal justice, but also to appoint a woman justice."
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele about Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter switching to the Democratic Party: "Alright, so you see red states going to blue, though, in this last presidential election...You look at percentage-wise, lower numbers of people who declare themselves to be actual Republicans...Where does the future of your party lie?...Is there room for moderates?"
Smith began the interview by asking Steele: "Olympia Snowe mourned his [Specter’s] loss earlier this week. Rush Limbaugh said he was dead weight, good riddance. Who's right?" Steele was unequivocal: "Rush. I'm sorry, I'm not weeping here. I'm sorry. You know, look, Harry, in 2004, when Senator Specter ran for re-election...he whined and moaned and groaned and convinced the White House, and Senator Rick Santorum, and the Republican leadership at that time, to save his seat, to help him get re-elected. So all this, you know, rank-and-file crazy noise about conservatism, he didn't mind it in 2004 when his seat was on the line."
Rather than provide objective analysis of President Obama’s performance at Wednesday’s White House press conference, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Plante issued what amounted to a press release and brushed aside criticism of Obama’s expansion of government during the first 100 days: "The President laughed off charges that he's intent on making the government bigger...And said the 100-day mark was just the beginning."
Plante offered no facts about the massive spending and growth of government under the Obama administration, but instead concluded his report: "Anyway, they [the White House] think that the public is well disposed to give the President some more time. How much, is the question."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "A lot of people watching President Obama last night. How do you celebrate 100 days in office? Speak to the news media." Based on reporting from Plante and New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny’s "enchanting" question to Obama, that would be a party with close friends for the President.
In honor of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith decided to take an uncritical look at the President’s performance with liberal commentators Tavis Smiley of PBS and Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Newsweek. Smith asked Zakaria: "Using your book as a template, 'The Post-American World,' in which America is seen not necessarily as the center of this universe anymore, how is this President working against the template of your book?"
Zakaria explained: "If you look at that template, Obama has actually seemed to really understand it, made overtures to the world...even overtures to Iran, to Syria, engaging in the Middle East peace process, even Venezuela. This is, I think, been a great overture. The first movement of the symphony is yet to come." Smith added: "The first 100 days, perhaps, is the overture." Zakaria continued: "But I think as an overture goes, you know, no -- I don't think any president has had as much success as Obama has...this guy gets this new world, this post-American world that I talk about, and he's acting in a way that will secure America's interests."
Appearing on FNC’s O’Reilly Factor Monday, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham was asked by host Bill O’Reilly: "What, you're a not a left-wing magazine?" Meacham denied any liberal agenda in the magazine: "No, I don't -- We're not a partisan magazine. We're just not." A skeptical O’Reilly replied: "Come on." Meacham defended his assertion: "We're not. We try to be provocative. We try to break news. We try to contribute to the conversation. You can decide whether we do or not."
O’Reilly asked Meacham about the magazine’s liberal leanings after the Newsweek editor argued in favor of investigations of Bush officials over interrogation tactics. O’Reilly also asked for Meacham’s opinion on a recent political cartoon in the New York Times that criticized those interrogation tactics by depicting the Statue of Liberty brandishing a whip, but Meacham refused to comment: "I'm not going to comment on somebody else's editorial decision." In frustration, O’Reilly replied: "You're an American. Forget you're editor of Newsweek, you're an American. You see this thing, what do you think? You think this is fair?"
O’Reilly went on to reference new photos of prisoner abuse about to be released: "Yeah, do you think this is fair? Do you think that's good for the country? Are you looking forward to putting those pictures coming out next week in Newsweek magazine, of abusing the prisoners, you looking forward to doing that?" He later added: "...you won't comment on that -- on that Statue of Liberty with a whip? Come on, you're an American, too. You know, I'm fighting the battle here alone. It's me and the Wall Street Journal, and couple of other guys on Fox, against a juggernaut of media apathy that you're a part of at Newsweek magazine, with all due respect."
On Sunday’s CBS ‘60 Minutes,’ anchor Scott Pelley, who once remarked that global warming critics were the equivalent of Holocaust deniers, identified the American coal industry as one of the main culprits of climate change: "The future of our climate might be summed up in one question, what do we do about coal? Coal generates nearly half the electricity in the United States and in the world. But it is the dirtiest fuel of all when it comes to carbon dioxide, or CO-2, the leading greenhouse gas. A few days ago, the Obama administration declared, for the first time, that CO-2 is a threat to human health and it plans to impose limits."
Pelley’s story did feature a representative of the coal industry, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who actually called for limitations on carbon emissions: "It's my judgment it is a problem. We need to go to work on it now. And it's critical that we start to act in this country...Our goal line is substantially to reduce our carbon footprint, to de-carbonize our business, by 2050." However, that wasn’t good enough for Pelley: "Four decades? That's a long time."
Pelley followed up by citing left-wing global warming activist Jim Hansen: "2050 is too late. We will have guaranteed disasters for our children, grandchildren, and the unborn." Pelley explained: "Jim Hansen is NASA's top climate scientist. He's credited with some of the earliest and most accurate projections on climate change. He thinks that Rogers plan leaves the Earth in the oven decades too long."
During a fawning interview on Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, anchor Lesley Stahl repeated White House talking points portraying Vice President Joe Biden’s constant verbal gaffes as a positive attribute: "After trying to muzzle the man, often ridiculed for his loose lips, the White House now calls his, shall we say, exuberance, an asset. They call it ‘truth-telling.’ And see his talent for connecting as a real advantage. Let Joe be Joe. With his ‘at a boying,’ hand-gripping, ‘hot’ personality, versus Obama's cool cat...Call him ‘schmoozer-in-chief.’"
Stahl went on to highlight some of roles that Biden has taken on as vice president: "With so much on his plate, the President has made his number two the stimulus cop. The assignment, to see that the $787 billion in stimulus money is spent wisely...He's on the phone several hours a week with mayors and governors, making sure they follow the rules...The Vice President gets especially high marks as a team player. For those who predicted he and the Secretary of State would be rivals, they both say 'uh-uh.' And in fact, they meet for a policy breakfast every Tuesday."
As further evidence of Biden being "schmoozer-in-chief," Stahl later declared: "He's physically ‘embracive’ with everybody, total strangers. He hugs, he slaps, he punches, grabs, holds, noses in, and bumps foreheads. Children are a special magnet: he and his wife Jill worked them like a rope line of voters on a campaign. And he cannot resist speechifying, even when his audience is made up of six year olds."
In a news brief on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell implied a link between the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and Bush administration approval of tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists: "Soon we will see more pictures of U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, like these from Abu Ghraib, are being released next month, following a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group says it is proof that prisoner abuse was widespread. And high-profile Bush administration officials are being linked to those interrogation techniques."
Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported: "Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Adviser in 2002, verbally approved the CIA's use of waterboarding, the earliest known green light according to a Senate account." Assuras then rhetorically asked: "But her decision alone?" A clip was then played of a so-called expert, Dan Guide, from the left-wing group Center for American Progress: "I don't think that we can identify individuals who are anymore or less responsible within the higher levels of the Bush administration. This was taken as a collective decision." Assuras never mentioned the political affiliation of the organization. Later in the report, Guide lamented limitations on prosecuting Bush officials: "The most significant constraint, at least in my view, is that this entire case would be conducted with classified information."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Senator Chris Dodd about efforts by Congress to pass legislation that would punish credit card companies for charging higher fees and interest rates: "Senator, yesterday President Obama says that he wants legislation to stop credit card abuses. This is something that you have been pushing for, for years. And I don't have to tell you that there's been strong credit card lobby against this. Now that the President's on board, can you assure consumers that this will finally get done and when?...what's the likelihood?"
Dodd responded by thanking Rodriguez and her CBS colleagues for their slanted coverage on the issue: "I think pretty good.And you've laid the groundwork for it because people are irate over these issues...I think we have a wonderful opportunity, now, to make a difference here and get a handle on these issues that have been gouging consumers for far too long."
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen made an important news announcement: "Well, the latest Obama paper dolls are out and we have got them right here to check them out." Chen went on to explain that the collectible books of paper cut outs of Barack and Michelle Obama: "...came out when -- during the whole campaign...And then now this is the inaugural."
Chen later asked: "Do we think that this looks like Barack and Michelle?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez responded: "Absolutely not. Not even a little bit." Early Show medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton was also on set, and chimed in: "No, he [Obama] looks so much better in person." Rodriguez then added: "Not even a little bit, it's not their faces. Those are not their faces." Chen explained: "It's more Michelle than -- it's not Barack's face, but it's more Michelle. Because I think they have her eyebrows down."
After a detailed discussion of the dolls’ likeness to the Obamas, co-host Harry Smith proudly exclaimed: "Well, I'm very excited to get my collectible campaign edition, so."
While discussing the possible prosecution of Bush administration officials over interrogation methods used against terror suspects, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Senator John McCain: "You fought a long battle with the [Bush] White House over this issue, said they ought to follow the Army manual, which the -- the White House refused to...Why do you feel so strongly that those who helped create this policy should not face some sort of recrimination?"
McCain explained his opposition to what he called a "witch hunt": "Because I think, Harry, if you legal -- if you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive...this is going to turn into a witch hunt."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith resurrected the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, connecting it to the current debate over interrogation methods used toward terror suspects under the Bush administration: "Torture on trial. In a major shift, President Obama now says he is open to investigating Bush administration officials for crimes related to torture...We'll talk to the former general in charge of Abu Ghraib. Were the soldiers there made to be scapegoats?"
Smith interviewed former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was demoted following Abu Ghraib, and suggested a link between aggressive interrogation tactics and the prisoner abuse: "...a Senate Armed Services Committee report...suggests that the roots of torture, the roots of the idea of torture were being circulated in the Pentagon and the CIA as early as 2002...Is there a line? Do you see that there is a lining run -- that goes from 2002 to Abu Ghraib to the hundreds of times waterboards were used in these cases of these few CIA cases?" Karpinski replied: "Absolutely. The line is very clear that it was cloudy for years, obviously, seven years, if 2002 were the initial discussions. But the line is clear. It went from Washington, D.C., from the very top of the administration with the legal opinions, through Bagram, to Guantanamo Bay, and then to Iraq via the commander from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And the contractors who were hired to do those things."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen talked to gay blogger Perez Hilton about his question to Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean about gay marriage: "Miss California, Carrie Prejean, decided to tell gay blogger and judge Perez Hilton what she really felt about same-sex marriage, and it might have cost her the Miss USA crown...Hilton reacted angrily after the show, posting this video blog on his website." Chen played a clip of Hilton’s video blog tirade in which he said he was "disappointed" in Prejean, but not the portion in which the blogger called her a "dumb b***h."
Chen also failed to mention that during live coverage on MSNBC on Monday, Hilton declared that he was not sorry for using that language and even went on to say that he wished he had used the "c-word" to describe Prejean. Chen only vaguely alluded to Hilton’s vulgarity as she asked her first question: "Perez, let me begin with you. When you first heard her answer, what did you think? And please keep it clean, this is a live morning program."
While reporting on Obama meeting with anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Sunday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Jeff Glor asked political correspondent Jeff Greenfield about a potential negative reaction to the encounter: "Jeff, let's start talking about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. Is there fallout from it, real or imagined?"
Greenfield discounted any criticism as simply being from Obama’s right-wing opponents: "There is fallout among those people who already regard Obama as anything from a socialist, to a fascist, to a dangerously weak president. I'm talking about people on the right. If it doesn't spread beyond that, you're going to have the same situation where about 30% of the country really regards him negatively, but the rest says ‘so far so good.’"
Glor then asked: "Alright, let's talk also domestically now about Cuba. What has changed inside this country that makes these overtures more effective now?" Greenfield responded: "Among younger Cuban-Americans in Florida, there's much less rigidity about Cuba then there was at the time when to be in anyway sympathetic to Castro, or even open to relations, was political death...We also see among conservative groups, the American Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a desire to open markets in Cuba...have made it politically palatable, domestically, for Obama to say ‘let's try something new.’"
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed President Obama’s brief meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas with former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino and former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, wondering: "Have the critics of this photo-op made a mountain out of a molehill?"
In a prior report on the meeting, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "President Obama defends his visit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Asked about the notion that his willingness to talk to enemies of the U.S. was a sign of weakness, the President said it was unlikely that he was endangering the strategic interests of the United States...His simple handshake with Venezuela's president was a symbolic break with the Bush administration policy of shutting out unfriendly nations." Smith repeated Obama’s defense as he later wondered if critics were making too much of the encounter.
While reporting on the ongoing drug war in Mexico, CBS, NBC, and ABC have all cited a dubious statistic that claims that 90% of the guns being used in the violence are from the United States. On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bill Plante reported: "Mexican drug gang violence spilling into the U.S. is the urgent issue of President Obama's visit...A major sore point -- more than 90% of the weapons which could be traced were bought legally in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico by the cartels."
On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Chuck Todd declared: "In a joint press conference following their private meeting, President Obama acknowledged that 90 percent of the guns used by the drug cartels in this war with Mexico come from the United States." On Thursday’s Good Morning America on ABC, co-host Diane Sawyer referenced, and even further embellished, the figure while interviewing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: "95 percent of the guns used were out of the United States. What is the U.S. going to do to stop the guns from getting there?"
However, on April 2, Fox News reported that 90% figure to be inaccurate: "The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S. What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, ‘is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.’ But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S." The network reports failed to explain those details.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show fill-in co-host Priya David offered a news brief congratulating CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on a recent award for the broadcast: "And we at CBS News are pleased to report that our own Katie Couric has received the coveted Walter Cronkite Award for excellence in television political journalism. At a ceremony last night, Katie was cited for her coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, from the Iowa caucuses through election night, on the CBS Evening News and in prime-time."
David went on to remark that: "You know, her interviews with Sarah Palin were really something that stood out in this campaign." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez added that the interview was "Game-changing." On March 14, NewsBusters’ Noel Sheppard reported that the Palin interview was a key factor in Couric receiving the award.
After David’s and Rodriguez’s comments, co-host Harry Smith chimed in: "Well, I think all -- by and large -- all of the coverage on the Evening News, they devoted more time night, by night, by night, remember all those presidential questions for all of those candidates, all of those minutes that I think they really performed an important public service." David added: "Well deserved, Katie."
While discussing the ongoing drug war in Mexico with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez wondered: "President Obama will meet with the Mexican president today, who has said that the money, the guns, and the appetite for drugs that fuel this war come from our country. My question is, how much blame do we accept?...Is one of the other things we can do reinstate the assault weapons ban in this country? Because President Calderon has said that ever since it expired, violence there has escalated."
In an earlier report on the issue, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "Mexican authorities are often out-gunned by the gangs. Military-grade arms, including grenades and machine guns, are easily purchased in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico. Just as the drugs are easily moved north in response to heavy demand in the U.S...President Obama will promise today to step up efforts to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. down into Mexico." Earlier media reports claimed 90% of guns involved in the Mexican drug war came from the U.S., a statistic which was later proven false by Fox News’s William La Jeunesse and Maxim Lott.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith highlighted a recent report by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center claiming a recent surge in hate groups in the United States: "The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That's up more than 50% from just 2000...And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama. Other part of the responsibility goes to the deteriorating economy." An on-screen graphic read: "Rising Tide of Hatred? Report: Right Wing Extremism May Increase." [audio available here]
Smith talked to Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees about the report as well as a similar report by the Department of Homeland Security: "Your report dovetails with a brand new report from the Department of Homeland Security claiming basically the same thing...Do these -- do you feel like your report and their report sync up?" Dees declared:
I think they sync up pretty much. The report from the Department of Homeland Security should be taken very seriously. What we've found in our intelligence project we've run for a number of years here is the political climate, the election of Obama, the immigration issues that have faced the United States over the last five to ten years, and now especially the economy, is almost causing a resurgence of what we saw in the days of Timothy McVeigh. Almost a militia movement that's being reborn in the United States.
Friday’s CBS Early Show continued its fawning coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama in Europe as co-host Harry Smith gushed over the First Lady: "I mean, there's a kind of just raw realness about her. That session with the schoolgirls yesterday...People were in tears." Smith made the comment while talking to executive editor of thedailybeast.com, Tina Brown, who had her own words of praise: "Michelle is so authentic, and so real, and so today, and so, you know, J. Crew, and the whole price point thing and not designer clothes..With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there's a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. But there's also -- I mean she's almost like overtaking Oprah, I think, as the kind of inspirational 'it' girl at this point." [audio available here]
Later, Smith dismissed criticism that Michelle Obama had broken protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth: "This whole touching of the Queen and everything else, in the end, the Queen says, 'let's please stay in touch.' Whatever affront, or perceived affront, was completely trumped by the fact that those two people charmed the Queen's socks off." Brown agreed: "They completely charmed them. And the Queen wouldn't have taken any offense at that...she's also, I think, getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point. You know, when she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids wearing those pearls, it was like, ‘oh, my God, it’s Di time all over again.’"
At the top of the 3:00PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O’Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O’Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."
Later, O’Donnell compared Obama to Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break... Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."
Thursday’s CBS Early Show offered non-stop gushing over Barack and Michelle Obama in Britain as co-host Julie Chen spoke with royal watcher Ingrid Seward: "Well, what is the buzz so far about Michelle Obama, and is she overshadowing her husband's presence over there?" Seward replied: "No, she's not overshadowing her husband. I think we all find him very charismatic, very handsome, and almost with the responsibility of being a savior on his shoulders...And people are excited to see him, very excited to see him." Chen added: "As they should be."
Later, Chen asked about the Obamas’ gift to Queen Elizabeth, an ipod loaded with show tunes: "Now, what are people saying about the First Lady and President Obama's gift of an ipod to the Queen?" Seward declared: "Actually, an ipod is a perfect gift for the Queen because in the cellars of Buckingham Palace, she has so many unwanted gifts, sort of trophies and unattractive pieces of jewelry. I mean, she couldn't be more thrilled with something useful like an ipod."