Over the past year since its inception, the media have worked hard to discredit and denigrate the tea party movement. News organizations employed various strategies, from dismissing the protests as astroturf, to using derogatory nicknames for participants, and finally labeling it as a violent extremist fringe. In their futile attempt to get something to stick, the media have become increasingly desperate and irresponsible in their coverage.
In the Media Research Center's special report, 'TV's Tea Party Travesty,' MRC Research Director Rich Noyes focused in on the slanted coverage of the tea parties by ABC, CBS, and NBC over the past year.
On Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer asked columnist Kathleen Parker about her views on the tea party: "the rhetoric that's coming out from the right side, especially from the tea party....you think it may be dangerous." Parker replied: "this heated rhetoric and some of these words...that are pretty loaded, 'reload,' 'targeting'...there's a danger there."
Parker, syndicated with the Washington Post Writers Group, claimed she was not casting negative aspersions on the whole political movement: "I'm not saying the tea party people are violent or racist or any of that....I'm not saying that the tea partiers are bad people or dangerous," but warned: "I just think we have to be very vigilant....and be extremely careful, because I do think there is a lot of anger and it could become something else."
Schieffer brought up internet journalism as a possible source of some of the "dangerous" anger: "some of this really nasty rhetoric that shows up on the Internet....the only vehicle to deliver news that has no editor....And that is the added factor to the volatility of this stuff and where it goes." Parker agreed, and moments after warning of tea party extremism, made this comparison: "It's, sort of, like terrorism. You know, we don't know where to aim our bombs, so we can't go after a country because there are – you know, there's no one place to focus on it. And it's the same thing with – with the Internet.You can't really – you don't know who to go after."
While the tea party movement began to take shape in late February of 2009, the CBS Early Show did not offer a complete story on it until nearly 14 months later, with co-host Harry Smith declaring: "Today is tax day, April 15th. And thousands of tea party activists are headed to Washington...a new CBS News/New York Times poll is showing us just who these passionate conservatives really are."
Various co-hosts, correspondents, and guests certainly mentioned the tea party on the CBS morning show over the past year, but Thursday's broadcast was the first to provide a report that actually focused on the movement itself. Correspondent Nancy Cordes summed up the protests: "the tea partiers are planning to hold a series of rallies, not just hear in Washington, but around the country today, tax day. They're calling it the people's tax revolt. They say they're just fed up with the nation's tax burden."
Cordes noted how "Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin rallied an estimated 5,000 tea party protestors in Boston" and explained that a Washington D.C. event would "cap weeks of protests in 47 cities across the country. Tea partiers voicing their frustration with Congress and the White House." The headline on screen read: "Tea'd Off; Upstart Party Holds Final Rally On Tax Day."
At the top of the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Peter Alexander reported on a tea party event being held in Boston and grilled conservative author Kevin Jackson on "the fringe elements who show up for these rallies. Some in the past have had offensive signs and rhetoric." As Alexander spoke a large sign from the Boston rally appeared on screen, displaying the word 'LOVE' and a heart symbol.
In fairness to Alexander, he prefaced his comment by acknowledging that such signs were "perhaps not at today's event."
After Jackson, author of 'The Big Black Lie' and founder of TheBlackSphere.net, observed that the "fringe" claim was "much ado about nothing," Alexander responded by arguing that a recent email sent out calling on tea party members to avoid any offensive behavior was evidence of offensive behavior: "I think it said the following: Like, 'no chants or signs that you wouldn't want to repeat to your mother or children....'No bigotry, threats, or profanity. No alcohol or pre-drinking.' I mean, would that be necessary if there weren't signs of bigotry or offensive signs at these events?"
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, fill-in news reader Betty Nguyen reported on President Obama's new plan to cut back America's space program, but failed to mention sharp criticism by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Eugene Cernan in a signed letter sent to the White House.
Nguyen noted: "President Obama unveils a revamped plan for America's manned space program....reviving part of a plan he canceled earlier this year. NASA will begin development of a crew capsule called Orion....[it] won't go to the moon, but will be used as an emergency vehicle on the space station."
In contrast, on ABC's Good Morning America, anchor Juju Chang began a news brief on the same topic this way: "President Obama under fire, accused by the first man to set foot on the moon of leading the U.S. space program down a path of, quote, 'mediocrity.'" Correspondent Jake Tapper followed: "Armstrong and two other former astronauts wrote that it was a terrible decision. They called it 'a misguided proposal that forces NASA out of the human space operations for the foreseeable future.'"
NBC's Today also covered the criticism, as anchor Natalie Morales explained how: "three Apollo astronauts call the changes devastating. In a letter, Neil Armstrong, James Lovell and Eugene Cernan write, 'The President's plan destines our nation to become one of second, or even third-rate stature.'"
While attending the Radio Television Digital News Association conference in Las Vegas on Monday, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft spoke to a crowd of young journalists and claimed that his dream interview would be with Dick Cheney, but complained how the former vice president and Bush adviser Karl Rove simply "make hay" in criticizing 60 Minutes coverage, but would not go on the show.
If one looks at a recent history of 60 Minutes reporting, it's easy to see why Cheney and Rove would not be eager to appear on the CBS program. On the May 11, 2008 broadcast, correspondent Morley Safer conducted a fawning interview with left-wing actor Alec Baldwin and light-heartedly remarked: "Your eloquence, if that's the word, can get you into deep trouble....perhaps excessively eloquent, as in your description of Dick Cheney, who you said was a sociopath and a terrorist, and you later apologized by just calling him a 'lying, thieving, oil whore and a murderer of the US Constitution.'"
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez described how comedian Conan O'Brien could attract viewers to his new late night show on the TBS cable channel: "if he can get this young revolution, you know, a la President Obama, to follow him, that could be huge."
Rodriguez made the comment after guest Dalton Ross, the assistant managing editor for Entertainment Weekly, observed that O'Brien was: "now competing with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, he's not expected to have these mass numbers. As long as he brings his younger audience, his albeit smaller, but passionate audience to TBS, it's going to be successful."
Ross thought Rodriguez's comparison of Obama and O'Brien supporters was "exactly right."
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "At an historic summit, President Obama joins world leaders to try to stop terrorists from obtaining nuclear weapons." He later declared: "It's the largest gathering of world leaders hosted by a U.S. President since the 1945 conference that founded the United Nations. And it's already yielded some quick results."
White House correspondent Chip Reid reported on some of those "quick results": "Ukraine announced it will send its entire stockpile of highly enriched uranium, enough to build several nuclear weapons, out of the country, perhaps to the United States, by 2012....China...has shown a new willingness to consider sanctions against Iran, but is still reluctant to fully endorse them because it gets so much of its oil from Iran." In a news brief at the top of the 8AM ET hour, fill-in news reader Betty Nguyen mentioned another dangerous regime giving up its nuclear stockpile: "Canada announced it's returning a significant amount of its spent nuclear fuel to the U.S."
In concluding his report, Reid touted: "Now, at most international summits, they try to lower expectations to kind of soften the disappoint of not accomplishing much. At this summit, the President is taking the opposite approach. He is building up expectations, promising that by the end of the day, there will be a concrete plan of specific actions to lock up those loose nukes." Given that dealing with rogue states like Iran and North Korea are not subjects of the summit, it is unclear how much will really be accomplished at the meeting.
In his end-of-the-show commentary on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer cited a Saturday New York Times article celebrating retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "that Justice Stevens 'may be the last justice from a time when ability and independence, rather than perceived ideology, were viewed as the crucial qualifications for a seat on the court.'"
Schieffer agreed with that assessment and declared that for President Gerald Ford "sending John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court is not a bad legacy." He concluded: "As Justice Stevens's fine service was being rightly celebrated last week, I couldn't help but think of that as well."
Prior to his commentary, Schieffer spoke with CBS legal analyst Jan Crawford about possible nominees to replace Stevens. Crawford argued that President Obama and Democrats would attempt to "counter" Republican efforts to "beat up on their candidate," "by continuing to portray the Supreme Court as out of touch with everyday Americans."
At the top of the 8:30AM ET half hour of Friday's CBS Early Show, co-hosts Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith welcomed a new contributor to the broadcast, the daughter of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, Ayla Brown. As Smith put it: "she's about to graduate from college and she's agreed to come aboard as a special contributor with us here on the Early Show."
Rodriguez led into the announcement by recalling: "...remember back in January, Ayla Brown made headlines sort of by accident when her father, newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, announced during his victory speech that she was 'available.'" Smith followed by mentioning Brown's previous appearance on the show: "And remember then a couple of weeks later, we asked Ayla, who's a veteran of American Idol, to sing for us here on the Early Show. She knocked it out of the park."
Appearing in the 11AM ET hour on MSNBC Friday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams gushed over the legacy of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "He was famously called a 'lawyer's lawyer'...He leaves the court approaching his 90th birthday here, with one of the great quality minds, 90 or not, on the Supreme Court. Always had a kind of finely tuned intellect and nuanced opinions."
Apparently, consistently handing down left-wing rulings is what Williams considers "nuanced. "
Williams went on to conclude: "It's just been so interesting to see his ideology change over the years. You never know what's going to happen to a person when you appoint them to the Supreme Court....no one in 1975 would have believed you if you'd said someday this man, President Ford's appointment, would be known as the lion of the liberal wing of the court in 2010."
In the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC on Tuesday, left-wing Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim commented on the Republican National Committee spending scandal: "You know, what Republican donors do, generally, is pretty obnoxious to the American people. What did they have to cancel? They had to cancel a polo match, some yachting, you know, trips to bondage clubs."
Grim went on to claim: "if you want to get money from rich Republicans, you're going to have to engage in some of these obnoxious activities, so they like that to happen without the entire nation watching. Now that everybody's watching, it makes it a lot harder for them to raise money from these rich Republicans."
While Grim pretended to be a journalist reporting facts, he told Hall: "I actually haven't spoken to any – any big Republican donors the last few days." He simply noted how he was "hearing" things "in general" about RNC donors. Hall even remarked at the end of the segment: "Well Ryan, for a guy who hasn't spoken to any big money donors in 24-48 hours, not bad intel there." Apparently MSNBC now sees liberal ranting against the GOP as "intel."
During a fawning segment on a busy day of presidential traditions for Barack Obama, on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith used the commander in chief's embarrassing pitch at the Washington Nationals opening game to tout ObamaCare: "If there had been a batter he might have been hit, but we are assured by the White House he would have been covered by the new health care reform law."
After showing a clip of the Obama's flubbed throw, Smith remarked: "Whoops." He then added: "In the broadcast booth, the President got a chance to analyze his performance on the mound." A clip was played of the President admitting: "This is heart breaking right here. You know, I was a little disappointed with the pitch, it was high and outside. I was intentionally walking the guy."
The segment began with Smith describing the annual White House Easter Egg Roll that morning: "Some 30,000 moms, dads, and kids from all 50 states crowded on to the South Lawn for a day of fun and games....The Obamas put their own special imprint on the event today, focusing on healthy, active living."
Smith also mentioned how "the President put on a basketball clinic for the kids." Perhaps the Early Show co-host was reminded of his own "basketball clinic" with the President, following an interview on Thursday in which Smith pitched worse softballs than Obama.
Near the end of the Saturday edition of Fox & Friends on Fox News, co-host Clayton Morris introduced a segment on the media's double standard when it comes to covering the tea party movement versus left-wing protestors: "Mainstream media casting tea party protesters as violent and racist, the same media that characterized leftist protests against President Bush as patriotic."
Morris brought on a tea party activist to discuss the topic: "Well, our next guest is someone who's not afraid to stand up to biased coverage. Check out this heated exchange with a CNN reporter at a tea party rally last year." A clip was played of tea partier Kathy Barkulis berating former CNN reporter Susan Roesgen: "You are not talking to regular, mainstream people. You picked people to talk to." Roesgen was later fired from CNN in July of 2009, in the wake of her slanted reporting on the tea party.
After the clip, Morris asked Barkulis: "So what do you say here? That the mainstream media's casting tea party protests as violent, dangerous, extremist? Is there a double standard, as you see it?" Barkulis replied: "Oh, of course there is, there's always been a double standard and it's just getting worse.... they're misrepresenting us and I really don't even think they've ever been to a tea party rally and they don't really know what we're all about. They're just repeating what other left-wing sources have told them."
Next week, the Media Research Center will be releasing a special report documenting media coverage of the tea party movement over the past year.
On CBS's Sunday Morning, host Charles Osgood marked Easter Sunday by proclaiming: "For many Roman Catholics, the joy of this Easter is mixed with sadness over continuing charges of child abuse and of cover-ups within the Church's hierarchy." In a report that followed, correspondent Dean Reynolds declared that the scandal was "like a heavy blow to the soul."
Reynolds went on to cite the latest accusations of abuse by a Milwaukee priest in the 1960s as mounting evidence: "damming stacks of court exhibits, documenting the abuse of predator priests...Documents, the victims say, leave a long and shameful trail." A clip was played of attorney Jeff Anderson, who was representing one of the victims: "That all trails involving the cover-up and the concealment of sexual abuse by Catholic clerics lead to Rome and the Pope."
Remarking on the "corrosive effect" of the accusations, Reynolds pointed to poll numbers on the Pope: "A new CBS News poll finds only 27% of American Catholics view Pope Benedict XVI favorably now; 55% gave him poor marks for the way he's dealt with the priest abuse scandal." The poll appeared on screen, showing that 36% were undecided, a number Reynolds failed to highlight. He also failed to mention – and the on-screen graphic did not show – the 19% who "haven't heard enough" to have an opinion on the Pope.
In addition to the softball interview CBS's Harry Smith conducted with President Obama on Thursday, the Early Show co-host also played some one-on-one with the commander in chief on the White House basketball court, declaring on Friday's show: "it's not just talk, there's a little action too, as we bring in Clark Kellogg of CBS Sports to check out the President's basketball skills." [Audio available here]
In honor of Good Friday, at the top of show, Smith used some religious language to describe where the game took place: "This is the sanctum sanctorum....I'm not sure anybody has ever really been down there with cameras before." Meanwhile, co-host Maggie Rodriguez pretended that Smith actually conducted a hard interview: "you ask him all the tough questions...Does he then proceed to take it out on you on the basketball court?"
At one point in the game, Smith jokingly asked the President: "the question is – that everybody wants to know, can you go to your right?" Obama replied: "I can go to my right, but I prefer my left." Smith laughed gleefully in response. Rodriguez remarked that it was Obama's "comfort zone."
In a fawning interview with President Obama on Thursday, CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith spoke of the "enmity" of conservative talk radio and sympathetically wondered: "Does it bother you a little bit?" The President replied: "you end up getting a pretty thick skin in this job....I am concerned about a political climate in which the other side is demonized." [Audio available here]
As NewsBusters' Brent Baker previewed earlier, Smith portrayed talk radio critics of Obama as extreme: "I've been spending time out and about, listening to talk radio. The kindest of terms you're sometimes referred to, out in America, is a 'socialist.' The worst of which I've heard is called a 'Nazi.' Are you aware of the level of enmity that crosses the air waves and that people have made part of their conversation about you?"
In the interview, which aired on Friday's Early Show, the President began to reply: "Well, I mean, I think that when you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck it's-" Smith pressed further: "It's beyond that." Obama continued: "It's pretty apparent and it's troublesome. But, you know, keep in mind that there have been periods in American history where this kind of – this kind of vitriol comes out."
On Thursday's Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan went after the Vatican for criticizing the slanted New York Times reporting on the priest sex abuse scandal: "Blame the messenger. The Vatican blasting the New York Times for telling the truth about Church – the Church and its harboring of sex abusers. It's the paper's fault."
Ratigan spoke with Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, an openly gay ex-Catholic, who ranted: "the bottom line is, the Catholic Church for the last couple of decades, has preached hatred, bigotry, discrimination against gay people. But they don't take ownership of their own homosexual problems that exist and have existed for decades. And they need to stop blaming everybody else." An on-screen headline read: "Killing the Messenger; Cardinal Slams NY Times for Vatican Coverage."
Meanwhile, on Thursday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips declared: "The Church, though, has been more direct in its response to the stories being printed and broadcast of child abuse in its institutions. It's attacked the messenger." Phillips later concluded that "The Church is faced with making an argument that is very difficult, that it has changed from the bad old days, at the same time as evidence keeps coming out, showing just how bald those old days were."
Introducing a segment on Thursday's CBS Early Show about President Obama's decision to open up some new areas to offshore oil drilling, fill-in co-host Jeff Glor warned that some of Obama's "closest allies are especially unhappy." In a report that followed, White House correspondent Bill Plante noted "Environmental groups are disappointed."
However, Plante also touted the idea that the move could help pass unpopular cap and trade legislation, a long-held liberal goal: "Many in Washington see this as a strategy to win Republican support for a climate bill aimed at slowing global warming." He later concluded: "The conventional political wisdom is that this is not the time to have another rancorous nasty debate, like the one over health care, on a climate change bill. But the betting here is that the President's energy policy may make it easier to have that debate."
At the top of the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "President Obama's controversial offshore drilling proposal is making big waves. Critics say the risks are obvious, but not the rewards." In a discussion with CBS political analyst John Dickerson after Plante's report, she did little to hide her displeasure with the proposal: "Let's establish right off the bat that this will not – not even remotely free us from our dependence on foreign oil." Dickerson agreed: "You're exactly right."
Near the end of Wednesday's Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan led his 'Busted' segment by claiming that The Drudge Report did "not let facts get in the way of a good headline" on Tuesday, by featuring one which read: "CIA: Iran Moving Closer to Nuclear Weapon." Ratigan remarked: "That'll get the ratings up."
Despite the fact that most of the world has long operated under the assumption that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, including the Obama administration, Ratigan singled out Matt Drudge's website for scorn, arguing: "Sounds pretty scary, right? Until you find out what the CIA report actually said. The agency's intelligence actually shows that Iran is quote, 'keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,' but that they quote 'do not know' whether Tehran will ultimately head down that road." The headline on screen read: "Misinformed; Wordplay On Iran's Nuke Plans."
Ratigan eventually revealed where he received his liberal taking points: "the truth, why would you let that get in the way of ratings? As our friend Glenn Greenwald from Salon.com points out on his blog, false reporting on Iran could be ultimately be far more dangerous than the perceived threat itself. Let's try to stick to the facts."
Host Bob Schieffer led Sunday's Face the Nation by fretting over opposition to the passage of ObamaCare: "What about the violence in the wake of the congressional action? Isolated incidents or signs of a dangerous anger?" He told viewers that he would talk to "Republican firebrands, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann" about the issue.
Schieffer pressed DeMint on some of the threats against members of Congress: "Senator, we saw some pretty scary stuff last week....We saw members' offices that were trashed. We saw death threats....Do you think the parties have an obligation to try to tone down some of this runaway rhetoric? Is it, in fact, dangerous?" The Senator defended tea party protestors: "I've been with hundreds of thousands of tea party patriots...and I've never seen any violence or heard any bad language....it's unfair and untrue to try to paint this whole American awakening with some of the bad comments that we heard last week in Washington."
Later turning to Bachmann, Schieffer tried to portray the Congresswoman as extreme: "You said last week that health care reform was dangerous and you equated it with tyranny. Do you really mean that?...You said that you thought Barack Obama had anti-American views....what do you mean the President is anti-American?" He continued his interrogation by pointing to comments made by Sarah Palin: "[She] famously said last week that it is not time for Republicans to retreat. It is time to reload....said she wasn't talking about guns. She was talking about getting out there and using the vote. Do you think Sarah Palin has overstated it here?"
Since the passage of ObamaCare on March 21, the liberal media have been working hard to crack down on dissidents, painting the tea party movement, talk radio, and Republicans as dangerous radicals inciting violence against Democrats.
The three broadcast networks and the cable channels all jumped on board the bandwagon of smearing conservatives as angry hate-mongers, in order to discredit broad-based legitimate opposition to the unpopular legislation.
In the 10AM ET hour on MSNBC on Tuesday, anchor David Shuster talked with Democratic strategist Craig Varoga, founder of the Patriot Majority political action committee, about efforts to "fight against tea-party-backed candidates." Moments later, a headline on screen read: "Tea Party Targets; PAC Launching Counter-Attack of Tea Party."
During the same hour on Monday, Shuster described how in a speech on Sunday, "[Sarah] Palin also took aim at Democrats in the media after she was criticized for posting a map of targeted House Democrats with using rifle cross-hairs." An on-screen graphic showed a picture of the map featured on Palin's website with the headline,"Sarah Palin's Dem Hit List," suggesting Palin was inciting violence against members of Congress.
Meanwhile, during the Tuesday segment with Varoga, the word "target" was used frequently. The headline "Tea Party Targets" remained on screen throughout the segment, as several secondary headlines appeared next to it, including: "Group Targeting Tea Party-Backed Candidates," "PAC Targeting 12 to 15 Conservative Races," "PAC's Mission: To Ensure Congress Tea Party-Free," and "PAC: Americans Need to Confront Tea Party." At one point, Shuster himself used the word: "What are the specific races, specific campaigns that you're going to be targeting?"
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked political analyst and writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, John Dickerson, if Democrats were "worried" about the "ton of momentum" behind the tea party movement. Dickerson replied: "What Democrats can only hope for is that tea party activists somehow overreach and that that ends up becoming a stain on the Republican Party."
Rodriguez agreed and touted Democratic Party talking points on ObamaCare: "Right. And also, if you ask the Obama administration, they'll tell you maybe people will see the few health care changes that are taking effect immediately and actually like them and it'll turn the tide of public opinion."
"That certainly is the hope," Dickerson replied, but then lamented: "The polling right now does not give the Obama administration a lot of encouragement on that front." He explained that the American public was simply afraid of change: "The problem is that people are nervous about change and this is an enormous change in their lives....people really just don't believe it yet."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, news reader Betty Nguyen continued the media barrage against the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict as she proclaimed: "They are circling the wagons at the Vatican, defending the Pope amid new charges that he helped cover up cases of sexual abuse when he was a cardinal."
In the report that followed, correspondent Allen Pizzey treated the Holy Father like a corrupt politician: "The abuse scandal, highlighted with pictures of the Pope, glared from the front pages of every major newspaper in Italy today. And in a clear sign of just how much trouble Benedict is in, only two of them defended him." Later in the report, a headline appeared on screen that read: "Catholic Abuse Cover-up? New Allegations About Pope's Role."
Pizzey noted how the Pope recently "told a Vatican youth rally...that the word of God would show them how to prevent falling into what he called 'the abyss of drugs, of alcohol, of addiction to sex and to money.'" He then added: "But victims of abuse...say the Pope failed to heed his own advice."
Introducing a report on passage of the ObamaCare reconciliation bill on Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez referred to a couple upcoming rescue stories on the show and cheerfully remarked: "And speaking of rescues, the Democrats have rescued health care reform, once on death's door, after putting the final touches, finally, on the sweeping legislation yesterday."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Health care reform is a done deal after Democrats in Congress make final changes to the historic legislation." In the later report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, an on-screen headline read: "Done Deal; Obama Health Care Plan Gets Final Approval From Congress."
Cordes played a clip of Democratic Congressman Robert Andrews giving a glowing description of the bill: "Tonight the underdogs won. The people who have been abused by their insurance companies, turned down because they had asthma, or had their policies canceled because they got cancer, they won." She framed the GOP as against helping such people: "Republican opposition in the House and Senate was unanimous."
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "The health care debate gets ugly as Democrats who voted for reform report violence and death threats." In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes promoted left-wing talking points blaming the GOP: "Democrats accuse Republicans of stoking the anger with violent rhetoric and imagery."
As one example of the threats against Democrats, Cordes played phone messages left for Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak: "You and your family are scum....We think you're a devil....I hope you die." However, the Early Show failed to mention any of the threatening phone calls made to Stupak last week, by liberals upset over the pro-life Democrat still being on the fence over the abortion language in ObamaCare. As NewsBusters' Tim Graham pointed out, CBS's own Political Hotsheet blog reported: "Stupak...says his life has become a 'living hell' because of the debate....'All the phones are unplugged at our house – tired of the obscene calls and threats,' Stupak said in an interview with The Hill."
Citing more examples, Cordes noted that Democrats "point to Sarah Palin's Facebook page, which uses cross hairs to denote districts where vulnerable Democrats voted for health care reform. 'Don't retreat, instead, reload,' Palin told fellow conservatives on Twitter." In addition, a picture of the Republican National Committee website appeared on screen, which featured an image of Nancy Pelosi surrounded by flames and the words 'Fire Pelosi'. On Tuesday, Rodriguez asked RNC Chair Michael Steele if such imagery was "a little bit extreme."
On Wednesday, both NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America exclusively cited the latest Gallup/USA Today poll, which shows significantly more public support for ObamaCare than other recent polls. Both programs failed to mention several polls that continued to show public opposition to the massive legislation.
NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira used the Gallup poll to grill Republican Senator Jim DeMint, suggesting the tide of public opinion had turned in favor of the bill: "by a margin of nine percent, Americans say it was a good thing that Congress passed this bill. Half describe their reaction as enthusiastic or pleased. 48 percent called the bill a good first step. So who is out of touch with the public? The Democrats or the Republicans?" DeMint replied: "we would expect hype with – with all the hype and propaganda – that we would get a bump....I don't think the anger's gonna go away. I think you're gonna see it continue to build."
On Good Morning America, fill-in co-host Bill Weir noted the poll after Democratic strategist James Carville touted it: "The new USA Today Gallup poll say 50 percent, or just under, 49 percent, say passing this bill is a good thing. 40 percent call it a bad thing." Weir then turned to Republican strategist Kevin Madden and wondered: "Those who are opposed to it, though, are very angry. Will that be enough? Will there be enough steam left in that anger come November?"
Even before ObamaCare passed, on CBS's Sunday Morning reporter Tracy Smith touted the bill as the fulfillment of a century of liberal efforts: "After months of rancor in the streets, and histrionics in the halls of Congress, the vote takes place in just a few hours....if it feels like this long, angry, divisive debate over American health care has gone on practically forever – the fact is, it has."
Throughout the segment, Smith spoke with left-wing Brown University Professor James Morone, who began by lamenting how much of an obstacle the Constitution has been in achieving nationalized health care: "The founding fathers didn't want to make it easy. And they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams." As Smith began to recite the list of presidents who attempted implementing different proposals, Morone later explained: "Why don't we have it? One word: Congress. We've organized Congress in a way to make it very, very difficult."
In concluding the segment, Smith proclaimed: "Earlier this year, the President said, 'We are close to the summit of the mountain.' Whether or not he reaches that goal will be decided in today's vote." Morone took it a few steps further: "If they get it through, Obama's done something that Roosevelt couldn't do, that Kennedy couldn't do, Clinton, Nixon. Obama becomes, in history, a quite major figure, whatever else happens in the rest of his administration, or he becomes a minor figure. All in one day."
In an interview with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez touted the signing of ObamaCare into law: "the Senate bill...becomes law today. You're going to be stuck with a bill you don't like." She then wondered: "What if the catastrophic scenario that you've been warning about doesn't play out?"
Rodriguez referred to an interview that her fellow co-host Harry Smith had just concluded with White House advisor David Axelrod and asked: "What if, as David Axelrod suggests, now that it's a reality and people start to see the benefits, they actually like it?" Steele replied: "David Axelrod didn't talk about the $506 billion that's being taken out of Medicare....He didn't talk about the $500 billion in new taxes that are going to be imposed on those small businesses....there's a lot in this bill that have yet to be revealed to the American people. And when it's further revealed, it'll be less – less liked."
After Steele's response, Rodriguez felt the need to incredulously repeat: "If it turns out to be the catastrophe that you are predicting." She then criticized the RNC for being too "extreme" in its opposition: "I looked on the RNC website this morning. I have to say, I was surprised by what I saw. The home page shows a big photograph of Nancy Pelosi and in huge block letters it says 'Fire Pelosi' and she is against a backdrop of flames....Isn't this a little bit extreme?...What can you accomplish with this?" A still shot of the RNC website appeared on screen (see picture below). Rodriguez failed to point that in the latest CBS News poll, Nancy Pelosi only has an 11% approval rating.
Steele dismissed Rodriguez's characterization: "Actually, I tamed it down. You know, the reality of it is I don't know why you're surprised. Nancy Pelosi is the architect of the demise, in my view, of one-sixth of our economy. She should be fired for her failure to serve the interests of the American people."