Near the end of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed actress Naomi Watts about her latest role as former CIA agent Valerie Plame in the movie 'Fair Game': "...a ripped from the headlines true story of espionage and betrayal. Naomi Watts plays former CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose life was torn apart when her cover was blown by the U.S. government."
After playing a clip from the new film, Smith briefly summarized the controversy this way: "Joe Wilson was sent by the CIA to Niger to determine whether or not yellow-cake uranium was being exported to Iraq....when [he] said no, the Bush administration said somebody's got to pay and that was Valerie Plame." Smith went on to proclaim: "...it is not only this very public story but it is also sort of the private anguish of this family....That is almost torn asunder by this."
Grilling Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez questioned President Obama attacking Republicans over unproven claims of accepting foreign campaign donations: "Why did he spend so much time talking about the Republicans trying to steal the election? Offering no evidence of that. Isn't it a bit undignified for the President to resort to that?"
The Democratic governor attempted to defend the President: "Well, the President's got dual roles, he's the commander-in-chief...but he's also the campaigner-in-chief....[talking] about what's to be afraid of....the unreported money that's coming into this campaign through groups that we'll never know who contributed to, that's something our citizens should be worried about." Rodriguez pressed him: "If you gave them evidence to support that claim, it would be one thing. But, to make claims like this without backing them up, seems not right."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interrogated New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino over comments he made in opposition to gay marriage: "But by making a statement like that, 'brain-washed into thinking homosexuality is acceptable.' You must think it's not normal....Do you think it's – that people are gay by choice or by birth?"
Paladino explained his position: "I have of no reservations about gay people at all, none, except for one thing, their desire to get married. I just feel – I'm a Catholic, and I feel – there's 7.5 million Catholics in New York State. I feel that marriage is only between a man and a woman." Smith continued to grill Paladino, implying the candidate was contributing to violence against homosexuals: "...this statement comes from, at a time when New Yorkers just learn about this horrendous attack by this gang on these young gay men in the Bronx, where they were tortured and sodomized....You don't feel like you've added any fuel to the fire of gay hatred by saying what you said?"
In a report on Friday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante noted that President Obama hitting the campaign trail for Democrats didn't seem to be helping: "...more than half of the voters say that the President's support for any one candidate would have no impact on their decision." However, he then declared: "Not all Republicans are coasting to victory in 2010."
While Plante acknowledged that "Republicans [are] far more energized than Democrats this campaign season," he spent the second half of his report focused on two GOP candidates behind in the polls: "New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who recently got into a fight with a New York Post reporter, is way behind his opponent, Andrew Cuomo....Also running behind in the polls, Delaware's tea party Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell." Plante went on to proclaim that O'Donnell "made headlines earlier this week with her infamous 'I am not a witch' commercial."
Despite a new CBS poll showing low approval numbers for President Obama, at the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith emphasized weak numbers for the tea party: "...most Americans think President Obama is not living up to their expectations. But, they don't know if the tea party is an answer to the problem."
Smith later declared: "...less than a month before the midterm elections, there's a lot of voter uncertainty about the tea party movement." Correspondent Ben Tracy then reported: "...most Americans haven't made up their minds about the growing tea party movement. The rest are nearly evenly split in their views." A headline on-screen read: "Voter Frustration; CBS News Poll: Not Good News for Obama or Tea Party."
In concluding his report, Tracy remarked on how according to another poll finding, Sarah Palin "hasn't won over the country." He touted that "When asked if Palin would make an effective president, only 22% say yes. 64%, no, including nearly half [45%] of Republicans." Only then did Tracy finally mention the numbers for Obama: "66% Of Americans view him as an average or poor president, while another 31% say his backing of a candidate running for office will actually be a detriment." Tracy observed: "...the two biggest names in the respective parties may actually be something to avoid come election day."
Following Tracy's report, Smith talked to St. Louis conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch about the poll and proclaimed: "...while people are certainly aware of the tea party, the vast middle in America is not exactly running toward it. They certainly seem to be moving away from the President, but they're not running toward the tea party. They're still sitting on the fence."
Appearing on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis expressed disappointment in the lack of a new stimulus package, but hoped for other government action: "...while the government doesn't necessarily have the political will or the motivation to put a new stimulus into effect here in the United States, the Federal Reserve is prepared to step in and do that."
Co-host Maggie Rodriguez had asked Jarvis about possible reasons for why the stock market "sky-rocketed" on Tuesday. Jarvis touted possible intervention by the Fed as a reason for the stock "surge": "...many are anticipating that the Federal Reserve will take its own tools and do stimulative action."
Rodriguez then wondered: "Yeah, the Fed has been indicating that's it's going to step in and prop up the economy. But there's a lot of speculation about what exactly Ben Bernanke will do. What are the options?" Jarvis replied: "...one particular thing, and that is to start printing more money, put more money into circulation." While she acknowledged that such an action "decreases the value of the money in your pocket," Jarvis rosily predicted: "...it also can increase the value of things around you, like your home."
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith highlighted supposed division between Sarah Palin and Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller: "...a controversial e-mail, reportedly from Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, that is burning up the internet, it was leaked by a left-leaning website called The Mudflats and is causing quite a stir in political circles."
Smith explained that Todd Palin was upset that Miller had not endorsed Sarah Palin when asked about her possible 2012 candidacy in television interviews. Smith then quoted from the email in question: "Todd reportedly sent it to Republican senate nominee Joe Miller, who Sarah Palin endorsed, and it says, quote, 'Sarah put her blank [a**] on the line for Joe and yet he can't answer a simple question, is Sarah Palin qualified to be president? I don't know if she is. Joe, please explain how this endorsement stuff works. Is it to be completely one sided?'"
Turning to CBS political analyst and Republican strategist Dan Bartlett, Smith said of Miller, "he's gone on Fox a couple of times and he hasn't really been able to say how much, you know – profess his fealty to Sarah Palin." In response, Bartlett remarked that, "you can kind of feel for Todd Palin and what he's doing," but then added: "Sarah Palin and her camp are extremely thin-skinned and if she does plan to run for president, she's going to have to get used to people like this doing things that they don't appreciate." Smith replied: "A thicker hide in order, perhaps."
Neither Smith nor Bartlett raised the ethical issue of a private email being publicized or the fact that Palin had been a victim of email-hacking in the past.
Touting "faint signs of hope" for Democrats in November, on Monday's CBS Evening News, political correspondent Jeff Greenfield outlined a strategy the DNC could use to stave off major Republican gains in Congress: "So how could Democrats prevent, or at least minimize, their losses? There are three keys."
Greenfield began by encouraging efforts to re-energize the left: "First, turn out the base....That's why President Obama is out trying to persuade his core backers – blacks, Hispanics, the young – not to stay home in November." He then urged marginalizing the GOP: "Second, convince the voters that this election is a choice. With ads that argue the Republicans are just too extreme." Finally, Greenfield recommended that vulnerable Democrats run from their liberal records: "Third, declare your independence. Across the country, many incumbent Democrats are stressing how they oppose the President and House Speakier Nancy Pelosi."
Greenfield did acknowledge problems with some of his advice. On the suggestion that Democrats paint the GOP as "too extreme," he brought in Republican strategist David Winston, who explained: "Ultimately, when you're talking about your opponent, it's because you don't have anything to say about yourself, and the electorate gets that."
Wrapping up the segment, Greenfield admitted: "But it is still uphill for Democrats. Independents were the key to the Republican takeover of Congress in '94 and the Democratic takeover in '06. Right now they are leaning heavily Republican....in this climate, less bad seems to be about the best Democrats can hope for."
During Monday's CBS Early Show, a promo ran for the network's new daytime show, 'The Talk,' based on ABC's 'The View.' The show features former Early Show co-host Julie Chen and five other well-known women chattering about topics of the day.
At one point in the ad, fellow host and actress Leah Remini declares of Chen: "Julie, very smart. Makes me feel stupid." On the May 22, 2008 Early Show, Chen mistakenly placed Hawaii in the Atlantic Ocean.
The promo begins with Chen claiming another show co-host, Sharon Osbourne, wife of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, to be "the most real person I know."
Appearing on Monday's CBS Early Show, former President Jimmy Carter came up with his own version of history while remarking on Democratic chances in this year's midterm elections: "...when I was in office at this time, I had a 66% favorable rating and we had a very successful midterm election." In reality, Carter's approval stood at 49% in late October of 1978 and the Democrats lost seats in Congress.
Carter went on to blame Republican obstructionism for the Democrats' problems in 2010: "[Obama] is faced with an obstacle that I didn't have and that is almost complete polarization and absence of any cooperation from the Republican Party." The former president praised Obama: "He's gotten some very wonderful achievements so far." However, he lamented: "I don't think the Democrats are going to have a very good success in a couple of weeks."
Co-host Harry Smith earlier asked about the Middle East peace talks breaking down following the continuation of Israeli settlements. Carter replied: "Well, the key thing is for Israel to give up its ambition to occupy and control Palestine...they are still building Israeli homes in Palestine, against the wishes of the Palestinian people." Ironically, Carter was on to discuss his work for Habitat for Humanity just prior to condemning the construction of Israeli homes. He later called for "an assurance that Israel will get out of Palestine and let the Palestinians have their own viable and contiguous nation."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to gay rights activist Judy Shepard, mother of murdered gay student Matthew Shepard, about the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, asking: "Do you think that our young people, that we, as a society, have learned anything since Matthew's death?"
In reply, Shepard ranted: "...we have such vicious rhetoric still floating around the country....All you have to do is go to the floor of the Congress, or media, the newspapers, about the discontent with 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and the marriage issue and it still seems like we're trying to relegate the gay community to a second-class citizen."
Rodriguez wondered: "What do you think that Congress or lawmakers should be doing differently?" Shepard used the opportunity to promote liberal agenda items: "Well, they should be granting basic civil rights to the gay community instead of continuing to try to deny them....To deny them service in the military or job security on a federal level or even the right to marry and receive all those benefits that are derived from that, it's just – it's just unfair, and, in my view, un-American."
Later, Rodriguez brought up the role of the internet in driving Clementi to suicide. Shepard declared: "...the blogosphere is particularly damaging, full of opinions that really have no accountability, that people take as the absolute truth. There's a real danger in what happens on the internet now."
Appearing on Thursday's 'Andrea Mitchell Reports' on MSNBC, 'The Last Word' host Lawrence O'Donnell touted his Tuesday interview with Levi Johnston: "I love that kid. He's honest, he's straightforward, he's not embarrassed." The questions O'Donnell put to Johnston were identical to the ones CBS Evening anchor Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin in a 2008 interview.
Introducing O'Donnell, host Andrea Mitchell played a video mash-up that placed his interview with Johnston alongside Couric's interview with Palin. O'Donnell remarked to Mitchell: "I re-scored his answers last night when I stacked them up against Sarah Palin's and I think he really actually did do a better job than Sarah Palin, question by question, answer by answer."
The video showed O'Donnell ask Johnston about the teaching of evolution in schools, Johnston provided this brilliant response: "You're kind of getting over my head on these things here. Yeah, I don't really know how to answer that question."
Filling-in for Keith Olbermann on the November 13, 2009 Countdown, O'Donnell gave this nasty review of Palin's first book, 'Going Rogue': "Sarah's index and footnote-free, score-settling campaign memoir. No mind-numbing charts or graphs, no big words, no scholarly Latin phrases, like caveat emptor. And I bet the pictures are, like, amazing."
As Politico reported on Wednesday, during a gathering in a Richmond, Virginia home, President Obama "seemed to offer a ringing endorsement" of Daily Show host Jon Stewart holding a 'Rally to Restore Sanity' in Washington DC, supposedly as a way to allow moderate nonpartisan voices to be heard.
Obama declared: "...apparently he's going to host a rally called something like Americans in favor of a return to sanity....And his point was 70 percent of the people – it doesn't matter what political affiliation –70 percent of folks are just like you. They go about their business. They work hard every day. They're looking after their families. They don't go around calling people names. They don't make stuff up."
Stewart has claimed that the rally is nonpartisan and designed to promote moderation: "If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence... we couldn't. That's sort of the point." However, Obama's endorsement clearly demonstrates a decidedly liberal slant to the event. In addition, NewsBusters' Tim Graham earlier reported that the rally was being organized by two former aides to Bill Clinton.
In an interview with 'Obama's Wars' author Bob Woodward on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith sought to defend the President's uncertainty on Afghanistan: "...when he takes over they're already in this war for seven years and what he was not going to do...was give the military a blank check in an open-ended deal, say, 'go do your best.'"
Moments before that comment, Smith spun severe division in the White House over the war this way: "...these folks are infused with ambition and intelligence and have lots of things at stake and there really is quite a lot of friction among them all, as they're theoretically trying to get to the same place." Woodward replied: "I mean, it's intense....so much is unsettled. The President's committed to 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan. But, in these secret meetings in the Situation Room in the White House, he repeatedly says, 'we need a plan to get out. There can be no wiggle room. I'm not going to do ten years.'"
The Washington Post reporter then observed: "[Obama] is out of Afghanistan psychologically and the question is, for a commander in chief, don't you have to be kind of the guy who's up there, 'Yes, we can. We're going to win.'?" At that point, Smith ran to Obama's defense with the "blank check" remark.
At the top of the 8PM ET hour on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante touted President Obama's comments about the midterm elections in a recent interview: "[He] told Rolling Stone magazine that for those people not to come out, those so-called 'surge voters,' would be 'inexcusable and irresponsible'....'people need to shake off this lethargy and buck up.'"
News reader Erica Hill then brought up another part of the interview: "Also in that Rolling Stone article, on a little bit lighter note, I understand the President is perhaps expanding his musical library a little bit?" Plante responded: "...there are 2,000 tunes on his iPod. We got a look inside, it's Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan....He's got Nas, Lil' Wayne, some of the hip-hop artists. And his daughters are getting into the act, too. Sharing their musical tastes with him." Hill remarked: "Ah, I imagine that could include the Jonas Brothers, from everything we've heard about the Obama girls."
What was missing in the discussion of the President's Rolling Stone interview were his attacks on the tea party movement and Fox News. Of the tea party, Obama declared: "...there are probably some aspects of the Tea Party that are a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the president." As NewBusters' Lachlan Markay pointed out, Obama also proclaimed that Fox News has a "point of view" that is "ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country." Neither Plante nor Hill made any mention of those controversial comments.
On CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Martha Teichner promoted left-wing class warfare talking points from former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich: "[He] in a new book points out another ominous parallel between the Great Depression and the 'Great Recession,' its cause." Reich proclaimed: "More and more of the income that was generated by the economy went to people at the top." [Audio available here]
Teichner worked to bolster Reich's argument: "In the last century, there were only two years, in 1928 just before the great crash, and then again in 2007, during which the richest 1% were taking home nearly a quarter of the entire income of the nation." Reich continued his assault on upper income earners: "Last year, when most Americans were suffering, the top 25 hedge fund managers each earned $1 billion. A billion dollars would pay the salaries of something like 20,000 teachers."
Again, Teichner made sure to back up Reich's assertions: "That wage inequality, Reich argues, is at the heart of our economic woes. And to fix things, we need to pay those teachers and the rest of the middle class more, not less, so they can spend enough to kick-start the economy. And yes, that means higher taxes for the rich."
In a Sunday 60 Minutes story that gave a glowing portrayal of the real estate developer and imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, CBS anchor Scott Pelley also used the opportunity to smear opponents of the project: "...a national controversy with anger, passion, and more than a little misinformation. Opponents whipped up a fury, calling the project a grotesque mega-mosque tied to terrorism."
Pelley began by touting how building developer Sharif El-Gamal was simply trying to improve a "dingy block in lower Manhattan" and that he "thought his project would be a step up for a seedy part of downtown." Pelley described how "the community enthusiastically agreed. The plan was endorsed by the Mayor, the borough president, and the community board." He then emphasized the distance from Ground Zero: "You can't see Ground Zero from here, but when you make the corner...you can see the cranes where the new World Trade Center buildings are going up....It took us another two minutes to walk to the edge of what the government officially designates as Ground Zero."
Pelley highlighted El-Gamal's multi-cultural background: "...you're a Muslim who married a Christian girl. Your mother is Catholic. And you joined the Jewish community center on the West Side of Manhattan." However, he then turned to mosque opponent Pamela Geller, whom he characterized as "a former New York media executive who writes a politically far Right blog that mixes news, opinion, and conspiracy theories."
While discussing sex allegations against Bishop Eddie Long on Friday, MSNBC host and gay rights activist Contessa Brewer asked Bishop James Dean Adams: "Long has taken a very strong anti-homosexual stand....Is there always a danger, if you're taking that sort of stand, that you're living in a glass house and people are going to be encouraged to throw stones?"
Brewer described how "the Southern Poverty Law Center calls Bishop Eddie Long 'one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay moment. Long reportedly told his congregation about homosexuals, he said, God says you deserve death.'" The left-wing organization spliced together that comment and other clips of Long's Sermons on its website.
Brewer used Long's comments to go after Bishop Adams: "I mean, you can't support that, do you? The saying that homosexuals deserve death?" Adams replied: "No. I don't say that homosexuals or anybody, for that matter, deserves death." Brewer continued: "Do you think, in any way, Bishop, this will change the way black churches deal with the issue of homosexuality?" Adams explained: "I disagree with the viewpoint that the church is somehow been purposefully anti-gay. It's not about anti-gay. It's just simply anti-sin."
Agreeing with Christine O'Donnell's decision not to do anymore national media interviews, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson acknowledged on Wednesday's Early Show that "the national media is not doing her any favors and, basically, a lot of people want her on so that she can have a car crash on air."
Dickerson went on to add that O'Donnell "needs to focus on Delaware....she's got to reach out to independents and get outside of the narrow conservative constituency she won." He then remarked: "...she's smart to keep to her knitting and she just has to hope that voters don't penalize her for trying to kind of stay away from the national media, which might look like staying away from any kind of difficult or probing questions." Co-host Harry Smith joked in reply: "Knit one, pearl two for John Dickerson this morning."
Both Smith and Dickerson joked about how "disappointed" they were that O'Donnell would not be making anymore national media appearances. Throughout the discussion, a headline on screen made reference to O'Donnell's witchcraft comments: "Bewitched?; O'Donnell Says No More National Interviews."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez promoted singer Lady Gaga calling for an end to the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy: "A unique showdown shaping up today in the Senate...it's Senator John McCain versus Lady Gaga. The Senator wants to keep the ban, but the world's biggest pop star is throwing her support behind the gays who want to serve in the military."
Correspondent Michelle Miller noted of Gaga: "...recently she's become more vocal with her political leanings, urging her Twitter followers – she has a record 6.4 million of them – to write their senators over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" Miller concluded: "...the singer known for being out there, hopes her gay friends in the military will simply be allowed to be out." Throughout the report, a headline on screen read: "Lady Gaga Vs. The Pentagon; Pop Star Takes On 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy."
All the sound bites in the segment were in favor of overturning the policy, three from the pop singer herself and one from an outed gay soldier who escorted Gaga to MTV's Video Music Awards. The only time given to the other side was after Miller's report, when Rodriguez mentioned: "...the reason John McCain opposes this, he's waiting for the results of that Pentagon study on how this repeal might impact the, you know, troops who are serving right now."
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Angry Americans. A new report declares the recession officially over. But many of us are not feeling it. Even taking on the President himself."Later, he seemed to portray the President as a victim: "...a lot of Americans are still suffering its [the recession's] effects, and are taking it out on President Obama."
In a report that followed, correspondent Bill Plante noted how "numbers may be going in the right direction" but touted "frustrated" Obama supporters speaking out at a Monday CNBC town hall. In between clips of those voters, Plante sympathetically remarked: "On the defensive, the President responded by outlining some of his administration's accomplishments, but admitted that things aren't where they need to be." He concluded the report: "So the reality is that improving statistics aren't very convincing to voters who are worried about jobs, and that is the reality the President and his party face going into the November elections."
Introducing a brief report on the stock market reaction, co-host Maggie Rodriguez looked for a silver lining: "The average American may be skeptical about an economic recovery, but the reaction on Wall Street to the end of the recession shows that investors are optimistic." Business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis declared: "...yesterday, stocks responded positively to the news that it is now behind us. The Dow ended higher by 145 points, putting it on track for the best September in 71 years."
Following a report on Monday's CBS Early Show that slammed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell for comments she made on Bill Maher's 'Politically Incorrect' in the 1990s, co-host Maggie Rodriguez suggested O'Donnell's response: "Well, she could do what Sarah Palin has done and which has worked so beautifully for Sarah Palin, and that is to play media victim." [Audio available here]
Rodriguez made the comment to political analyst John Dickerson, who added: "That's right. And the victim card is one that Sarah Palin has played, Rand Paul has done the same thing. It's a bit of a time-honored technique and it works with your supporters, who are apt to believe the things you say..." He then warned: "...but if you're trying to get to voters in the middle or independents....they're not just going to take it at face value that you are a victim and rally to your side." Neither Rodriguez nor Dickerson questioned whether media coverage of Palin and O'Donnell had been fair.
In the prior report, correspondent Nancy Cordes touted how "O'Donnell says she's a devout Catholic, but in the video she describes her experimentation with witchcraft. And the man who released the clip says there's a lot more where that came from." Later, Cordes mentioned how "The 1999 clip was released by comedian Bill Maher," without noting his left-wing ideology.
Reporting on Pope Benedict's visit to the UK on Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips noted how 65,000 people attended a Thursday outdoor mass in Scotland, but observed: "...it was only about a quarter of the size of the crowd Pope John Paul drew to the same park on his visit 28 years ago. And this crowd had a much better warm-up act...TV talent show star...Susan Boyle."
On Thursday, correspondent Richard Roth touted low turnout predictions during the Papal visit: "Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events."
Phillips described the trip as "A test of whether Pope Benedict can get his message across over the background noise of the Church's child abuse scandal. And that test gets harder as time goes on." He went on to observe "This Pope finds himself with an ironic challenge, he bemoans the weakening role of religion in everyday life, yet it is the Church's very own public struggle with its child-molesting priests that is helping to drive people away."
Appearing on Friday's CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer continued to compare the rise of the tea party and possible candidacy of Sarah Palin in 2012 to the 1964 campaign of Barry Goldwater. In response, co-host Harry Smith remarked that Palin could take Republicans "to the edge of the abyss, as it were."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Schieffer argued: "...it is very much like 1964....they threw out all the establishment candidates...they nominated Barry Goldwater who – fine man – but he was far to the right of most of the people in his party, and they lost in a landslide. And that's why you have establishment Republicans worried about what's going to happen now in November." He repeated the same line on the Early Show and described the tea party as being full of "very, very conservative" voters who would not be as influential in the general election.
Prior to the discussion between Smith and Schieffer, correspondent Dean Reynolds reported on Palin taking a fundraising trip to Iowa and supporting "tea party insurgents...to the chagrin of GOP regulars, who worry they are too extreme, unelectable, or both." He went on highlight how "Democratic strategists say the more Sarah, the better for them" and touted: "Indeed, our latest polling shows the number of Americans viewing her unfavorably has been rising along with her visibility."
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill teased a report on Pope Benedict's visit to Scotland: "...it's a rather controversial visit for a number of reasons." Later, correspondent Richard Roth proclaimed the state visit "has more pomp and potentially more problems" and would "bound to be shadowed by controversy along with ceremony."
Roth went on to tout a gaffe made by a Papal aide prior to the trip and noted how the Pope "courts criticism on a range of issues, from the visit's cost – figured at around $20 million – to the cover-up of sex abuse among Catholic clergyman." He also highlighted predictions of low turnouts at Papal events during the visit: "[Benedict's] welcome will be measured, in part, by the size of his crowds. Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events." In fact, about 125,00 people lined the streets of Edinburgh to see the Pope's motorcade, with 65,000 attending a later outdoor mass.
The only positive comment about the Papal visit was a sound bite of Queen Elizabeth welcoming the Pontiff: "On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit." Roth concluded his report this way: "This is a country with a strong anti-clerical streak and a critical press. But, one leading paper's comment here that Benedict's 'entering the lion's den,' may also reflect a flare for dramatic overstatement."
While acknowledging bad news for Democrats in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll on Thursday's CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante worked to find a silver lining: "But when it comes to who's at fault for the rotten economy there's a disconnect. 37% say the Bush administration is most to blame. Only 5% blame the Obama administration."
Following Plante's report, fill-in co-host Erica Hill spoke with political analyst John Dickerson and wondered: "37% of those in the poll said that fault for the bad economy lays with the Bush administration. 5% said it lays with the Obama administration. Does that mean that this Democratic message is getting through?"
Dickerson explained: "People don't blame the Obama administration and they also, in our poll, believe the Democrats have the better policies to deal with the economy and, also, they believe the Democratic position on tax cuts. Nevertheless, they want to throw out the people who are in power and the problem is there are just more Democrats in power."
Talking to Republican strategist Dan Bartlett on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith wondered if the electoral success of the tea party could harm the GOP: "Are all of these tea party victories good for the Republican Party?...I wonder if you're making a miscalculation at your own peril at, you know, this perceived enthusiasm gap, these people are literally changing the face of a party."
Bartlett admitted difficultly in electing Christine O'Donnell, the winner of Tuesday's Republican Senate primary in Delaware, but staunchly defended the overall impact of the movement: "...the intensity gap that we're seeing between the two parties this election cycle is mainly being fed by the tea party movement on the Republican side....The prospect of taking over the House of Representatives would not happen without this vibrant activity within the tea party."
Smith turned to his other guest, Democratic strategist Tanya Acker, and continued to stress Republican difficulties: "...as Democrats are watching this all unfold, with the rancor and derision within the Republican Party, with the tea party really catching fire out there, how – how do you view it?" Acker ranted: "...I think that more Democrats are going to be motivated to go to the polls when you hear what some of these tea party candidates are saying. I don't think most of the country wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act."
On the September 11th Saturday Early Show, CBS News Middle East analyst Reza Aslan slammed opponents of the Ground Zero mosque as having "unapologetically politicized" 9/11 and being part of a "whole wave of anti-Muslim sentiment."
While he denounced others for trying to "take advantage of this symbol for their own political purposes," Aslan made his comments only seconds after live coverage of the first moment of silence for victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Co-host Chris Wragge accepted Aslan's characterization of the controversy and responded: "...this is not an opportunity to add controversy into the mix. If there's one day, you know what, to keep our mouths quiet and let's just reflect on the lives lost, today is it, you don't mess with that."
Aslan followed up by admitting: "I'll be honest with you, I hope that there is kind of a backlash against what's going on right now. As you know, at 1pm today there'll be a rally in support of the so-called Park 51 project, at 3pm there'll be this international rally against it. So, I'm hoping that Americans all over the country see these images and think we've gone too far."
He later specifically condemned mosque opponents: "...particularly in the case of this sort of international anti-Islam rally that's being brought by this group called Stop Islamization of America. And they're inviting all these European anti-Muslim politicians in to speak. I mean, that's really now taking this to a whole other level."
In a report on the Republican senate primary in Delaware on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes portrayed tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell's conservative social views as being on the fringe: "[She] has crusaded for abstinence and against porn. Writing once that 'when a married person uses pornography, it compromises the spouse's purity.'"
Cordes noted O'Donnell's position on those issues following a sound bite of primary opponent Mike Castle declaring: "I think she's too extreme for Delaware." In another sound bite after Cordes's comment, editor-in-chief of The Hotline, Reid Wilson, explained: "If Christine O'Donnell wins the primary election she's going to have a very difficult time winning in what is still a very blue, very Democratic state."
In concluding the report, Cordes observed: "...until recently this seat in Delaware seemed like it was in the bag." Fill-in co-host Erica Hill replied: "Ah, but no longer."
Following the report, Hill interviewed O'Donnell, focusing on the candidate's position in the polls and financial issues being raised in the campaign. Throughout the interview, the headline on screen read: "Primary Day; Controversial Tea Party Candidate Takes On Establishment."
In a puff piece on Attorney General Eric Holder on CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Rita Braver praised his professionalism: "...ignoring political pressure is Holder's constant message as he talks to Justice Department lawyers....Though he was a key advisor to the Obama campaign and considers the President a friend, Holder says he now keeps it purely professional." [Audio available here]
Throughout the interview, Braver portrayed Holder as lacking any political agenda: "And when he took office last February, he got a hero's welcome. It was in part, he believes, a reaction to cronyism and questionable policies advocated in the Bush-era Justice Department." As Braver mentioned Bush "cronyism," a photo of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on screen. Holder proclaimed: "Waterboarding, things like that, from my perspective, inconsistent with the great traditions of this department."
Braver began with some gentle criticism of Holder: "And with controversies over everything – from his pushing to quickly close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo to his very public condemnation of the new Arizona law that cracks down on undocumented immigrants – even some Holder fans are saying, 'he's honest, he's smart but sometimes he can be a little tone deaf about how things play out in public.'" That gave Holder the opportunity to declare: "I don't have the same latitude that other politicians might have to put my finger up to the wind and figure out what's going to be popular....So it's not tone deafness. It's a commitment to justice and a commitment to the law." Braver then touted Holder "ignoring political pressure."