Appearing on CBS’s Sunday Morning, commentator Nancy Giles shared her thoughts on Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst: "Some sign waving and you probably heard about it, heckling. At a joint session of Congress....That’s the voice of Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, not some drunk at open mic night, calling the President a liar."
Giles continued, denouncing all health care reform protestors: "He later apologized, but still, it was a frightening mix of disrespect and bad behavior, with a dash of this summer’s town hall meeting craziness. I guess we should be grateful that there weren’t any ‘show us your birth certificate’ signs and at least no one beat anyone with a cane, which actually happened in the old Senate chamber in 1856."
Giles would certainly know about "disrespect and bad behavior," on the October 5, 2003 broadcast of Sunday Morning, she compared conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to Adolf Hitler: "So as Rush’s world has steadily crumbled, it’s no wonder he allegedly had to turn to prescription pain killers....Edgy, controversial, brilliant....Hitler would have killed in talk radio. He was edgy, too."
Approaching the 11-year anniversary of the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with his mother Judy Shepard and asked about her efforts to pass hate crimes legislation: "Do you think this is finally the administration and the Congress that will get it done?"
Shepard, who was on to discuss her new book about her son, was hopeful that it would pass, especially after some legislative manipulation: "Well, I hope so. We know that this President will sign it if the bill comes to his desk, with his other requirements, because it’s attached to a Department of Defense bill, so that makes it a little trickier now. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed."
When Rodriguez initially asked about her activism, Shepard praised the role of the media in pushing the gay rights agenda: "What Matt’s story did was cause a lot of unintended education, if you will, through the press. People were made aware of what was going on in the gay community and it started a national dialogue...The gay community was part of every public discussion, where it used to be, you know, something you didn’t talk about, in the closet, if you will."
On Sunday, CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer praised President Obama’s recent media blitz for health care reform: "There’s no question he is the best salesman on the staff," but wondered: "Does he run the risk of overexposing himself?" Politco.com’s Roger Simon dispelled that fear: "It is a risk, but he keeps topping himself."
Simon elaborated on Obama’s oratory skill: "Every time you think this guy can’t give another speech that’s better than the last one, he gives another speech that’s better than the last one. And he’s achieving his purpose." He added that the President’s address to Congress last Wednesday: "was to unite Democrats around him. As a man who can get this job done."
In the same segment, Schieffer also spoke with syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, who gushed: "There is always that risk of overexposure. And yet, if you watched his speech yesterday in Minneapolis, he sort of redeems himself every time he goes out there in front of the public, because he is so good."
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson: "The irony of a congressman trying to heckle a President in the midst of a speech that was, among other things, about the need for civility, is just one ugly sign of the mindless meanness that has settled over our politics."
Apparently Schieffer forgot this passage of President Obama’s speech last Wednesday: "Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim...that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple." Calling your critics liars hardly sounds like a call for "civility."
According to MSNBC’s David Shuster on Friday, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouting ‘you lie’ to President Obama was racism on display: “The fact that Joe Wilson is from South Carolina...it strikes a lot of people as awfully close to the idea that maybe there was some sort of racist or bigoted element there.”
Shuster went on to add: “And especially then when you look up at the picture and you see older white men, all Republicans, sitting there. Just it gives off a strange vibe.” On Thursday, Shuster claimed that Republicans were: “...all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged.”
During the segment late in the 3PM ET hour, Shuster spoke with Reverend Jesse Jackson, wondering: “What role, if any, do you believe that bigotry is playing in some of this venom toward President Obama?” Jackson seized on the opportunity to cry racism: “Well, substantial. There is a struggle between the hope of going forward and the fear of going backwards....the big C-word, conservative, for some that means fiscal, for some, it means religious ethics, for some it means a code word for race.”
During the 4PM ET hour of live coverage on MSNBC Thursday, co-host David Shuster denounced the behavior of Republicans at President Obama’s address to Congress, declaring: “You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged.”
Shuster and co-host Tamron Hall moderated a debate between Democratic strategist Patrick Murphy and Republican strategist Alex Conant, over the impact of Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouting out ‘you lie!’ during the President’s speech. Shuster claimed: “The video of the Republican lawmakers was almost as striking as the speech itself....Did the Republican image change last night for the worse or was it something minor that may have only had an impact on the conservative base that was energized and wants to kill reform?”
Following the discussion, Hall observed: “...this pride in being an American and what it means to have class in this country and to see something like that. It is hurtful when you know that it is a prestigious place we have in this world and when we are reduced to behavior like that, it is very telling to all of us. We love this country and it is hurtful to see someone play out their – their emotions in such a loser way – I think I can say that.” Shuster replied: “Tamron you said it perfectly. I agree with you 100%.” Hall admitted: “I don’t think my mother would like I said loser, but oh well.”
While reporting on President Obama’s Tuesday nationwide address to students on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Dean Reynolds highlighted one school that made it mandatory viewing: "At Betsy Ross Elementary in Forest Park, Illinois, today, they did not think the children were at risk....Opting out would set a dangerous precedent according to officials here."
Louis Cavallo, the superintendent of the school district located just outside Obama’s hometown of Chicago, explained to Reynolds: "We do not allow parents to decide what is to be taught and what is not to be taught on a day to day basis." Reynolds touted positive student reactions: "Many students who heard the President today gave him good marks." One girl declared: "I thought that the speech was really, really good." Another described: "He encouraged us to do our best at everything that we try to do." To which Reynolds added: "And who would argue with that?"
While arguing with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele about health care reform on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "...if the public option is socialism, then what is Medicare?....That people overwhelmingly think works pretty well for them."
Steele pointed out Medicare’s obvious flaw: "Medicare’s a government-run program that is not – that is not doing that well....Harry, come on. How often do we have to do another reset on Medicare because it’s in default or running out of money?" Steele went on to challenge President Obama’s drastic approach to reform: "My only point is why do we have to up end 1/6 of our nation’s economy to fix what the President has now redefined-" Smith interrupted: "Because that 1/6 of our economy, left to go as it is, will bankrupt us." Apparently spending $1 trillion on a massive new government program will not.
Earlier in the interview, Steele reacted to Obama’s upcoming address to Congress: "And after 26 speeches and 12 resets on this health care plan, tonight, in my view, it’s just one more opportunity to tell us what we already know." Smith responded by claiming: "Okay. Except polls would say the opposite of that." Steele replied: "No, the polls don’t...Harry I don’t know what polls you’re looking at. The polls don’t say the opposite of that."
Teasing an upcoming segment on Thursday’s CBS Early Show about new attacks on Sarah Palin by the father of her grandson, Levi Johnston, co-host Maggie Rodriguez exclaimed: "And shocking allegations that could shatter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s conservative family image. If she chooses to believe what Levi Johnston is saying."
In the later report on Johnston’s Vanity Fair rant against Palin, correspondent Kelly Wallace claimed he "took off the gloves" and "debunks the popular image of Palin as hockey mom and moose hunter, telling...that ‘she doesn’t hunt, doesn’t read, doesn’t work hard, doesn’t spend time with her family, but instead spends all night alone in her bedroom.’" Wallace continued: "As for Sarah and Todd’s marriage, Johnston says they constantly threatened each other with divorce. ‘Once the cameras would leave, they didn’t talk to each other. I’ve never seen them sleep in the same bedroom.’"
After Wallace’s report, Rodriguez briefly mentioned: "And when we talked last April, he made similar claims to me and Sarah Palin said he’s lying, he just wants publicity, he just wants his little moment in the spotlight...my guess would be she would probably say something along those lines." Co-host Harry Smith then turned to Rodriguez and asked: "Because you’ve met him, you’ve interviewed him. Does he seem like – seem credible to you?" Rodriguez simply replied: "I don’t know. How could I possibly answer that?"
During the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, co-anchor Tamron Hall attacked Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for travel expenses, going so far as to compare the issue to the scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: "Well, it kind of reminds you of another governor who fought the stimulus and then we found out was using taxpayer dollars to travel. And that Governor was? Sanford."
At the top of the segment, co-anchor David Shuster declared: "In today’s ‘Making Your Case,’ another governor is in hot water for traveling on the taxpayers dime." Hall explained the reason for Jindal being in "hot water": "...claims that the Governor used a taxpayer-funded helicopter to attend Sunday services 14 times at a variety of locations across the state over a five-month period. Total cost, $45,000."
In reality, as the Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate reported, the Louisiana Governor was invited to speak at those church services and met with public officials: "Even though he travels on Sundays, Jindal said he schedules meetings with local officials when he flies to church services. On July 5, for example, his office reported that the governor met with citizens, attended a meeting with local officials and went to church in Monroe. Jindal was back in Monroe four days later to meet with community leaders as part of his ‘Louisiana Working Tour.’"
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer got reaction to Ted Kennedy’s death from left-wing Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, who touted the Senator’s importance in the 2008 campaign: "Of course Barack Obama had the wings of hope and the winds of possibility behind him, but Ted Kennedy was an awful powerful gust of wind that gave him a necessary lift."
Dyson, who was not identified as liberal, went on to describe Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama as coronation: "This was a man of American royalty bestowing upon Mr. Obama, if you will, the mantle of that kind of liberal leadership...I think that Senator Kennedy identified in Barack Obama the same hopefulness that he had seen glowing in the face of his brother John and radiating from the heart of his brother Robert."
Dyson continued to glorify Kennedy and Obama quasi-religous terms:
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer fondly remembered Ted Kennedy, exclaiming: "In a sense he was the classic American hero, the imperfect man who was sorely tested and yet in that testing found a way to overcome personal flaws and go on to accomplish great things."
Schieffer began his commentary by noting how Kennedy: "...crashed and crashed again during the early turns of his life, but somehow he kept on going through the sorrows and tragedies over which he had no control and the self-destructiveness over which he did. And in the final laps he won. His children loved him. His contemporaries, even those who often opposed him, admired him. And those whose causes he championed thanked him. To what else can a man aspire?"
In addition to touting the Senator as an "American hero," Schieffer praised his liberal legislative accomplishments: "The thousands of laws that he authored changed the lives of millions who were less fortunate, a legacy few can match....You didn’t have to agree with his politics to appreciate what he achieved. Ted Kennedy made a difference."
Speaking with Ted Kennedy’s niece, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith wondered: "Does a Kennedy belong in your uncle’s old Senate seat?" Townsend replied: "I think if my brother, Joe, wanted to run, I think he’d put up a great race and be a great Senator, but there are a lot of people who can carry on Senator Kennedy’s legacy."
Just prior to that question, Townsend had boasted: "And I think what we saw over the last few days is that people said ‘Ted Kennedy, I don’t know how you got to be Senator, but when you were there, you did more than any other senator in American history.’"
Appearing on MSNBC’s New York Times Edition on Friday, the paper’s ‘Week in Review’ editor, Sam Tanenhaus, lamented one of Ted Kennedy’s flaws: "There’s a further paradox to this, which is we sometimes forget, I mean, all of the wonderful things being said about this extraordinary figure Edward Kennedy, that he was partly accountable for Ronald Reagan’s ascendency."
Previewing his latest New York Times column on Kennedy to host John Harwood in the 2:00PM ET hour, Tanenhaus went on to explain: "Ted Kennedy challenged the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter, in 1980 and weakened him in that election and that brought Reagan into power."
Just prior to that declaration, Tanenhaus praised Kennedy for his "idea of governance [that] was really premised in the big vision of New Deal liberalism. That all the forces of government could be marshaled to improve the conditions for the greatest number of people, in particular, the excluded and the disadvantaged." In contrast, Tanenhaus claimed "the great Republican leaders, beginning with Barry Goldwater and really capped by Ronald Reagan, had no interest in governance. Ronald Reagan said government is not the solution, it’s the problem."
At the top of the 8AM ET hour of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell wondered if Ted Kennedy’s death could "spur Congress to pass a health care reform bill?" Correspondent Nancy Cordes answered that question: "Kennedy’s death, in a way, gives new life to health care legislation, which has really taken a beating the past few weeks at town halls across the country."
Cordes went on to declare: "Supporters of health care reform say they’re going to fight even harder to achieve Kennedy’s dying wish, universal healthcare. With Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia even suggesting that the legislation be named after the late great lawmaker."
Earlier on the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Utah Senator and Kennedy friend Orrin Hatch, and asked about the "dying wish" of the Massachusetts Senator: "I’d be willing to bet that he would be smiling down on the capital if Republicans and Democrats could finally compromise to fulfill his dream of health care reform. Do you think that Senator Kennedy’s passing could be the impetus that could finally make that happen, or do you think that the only bridge builder who could have done that is gone now?"
Sounding like a close friend or relative of Senator Ted Kennedy, at the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "A life that was able to bring friends and enemies together....We’ll hear from one of those foes who became a friend as we broadcast from the John f. Kennedy Presidential Library where the body of Uncle Teddy will arrive today and lie in repose."
Moments later, Rodriguez continued the unusually personal reporting on the death of the Massachusetts Senator: "This place dedicated to a slain American president will today serve as a shrine to his younger brother, a beloved American senator....we were joking here that we think all this wind today is sort of fitting for the Kennedys. The tousled hair, a perfect day for sailing, a wonderful day for the Kennedy family and the public to gather here, at this of all places, to remember Ted Kennedy. Sort of symbolic, Chris, I think, of the older brother looking down, looking after the younger brother."
During the 2:00AM ET hour of CBS’s Up to the Minute on Wednesday, shortly after news broke of Senator Ted Kenney’s death, historian Douglas Brinkley exclaimed the Massachusetts Democrat was: "...going to be a – a martyr because of all that he’s done and he very well might help, in death, Obama get his health care plan."
Fill-in anchor Michelle Gielan discussed Kennedy’s legacy with Brinkley, soon turning to the current debate over health care reform: "And one of those causes that he was championing was health care reform, and yet, he had to sit out these last few months. How difficult was that for him?" Brinkley began his response: "Well, it was very difficult for him....he’s been forced to be sidelined and unable to talk at town hall meetings. It’s been hard not to watch the nightly news and kind of wish that you had a fiery old Ted Kennedy there, arguing his points for universal health care, it could have made a difference."
Reporting on the First Family vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, CBS reporter Chip Reid excitedly exclaimed: "One thing that’s going to give a huge boost to the economy is all the Obama paraphernalia...t-shirts, it’s baseball caps and magnets and coffee mugs and glasses. And restaurants are selling the ‘Baracko Taco.’ Bars are selling ‘Ale to the Chief.’ And all of it is selling like crazy."
Reporting for Monday’s CBS Early Show, Reid actually held up a number of Obama t-shirts while reciting the litany of presidential souvenirs for sale on the Massachusetts resort island. He concluded his report by declaring: "So if the President wanted to find someplace where he would be welcomed with open arms, he sure found it here in Martha’s Vineyard." Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell remarked: "Part of the Martha’s Vineyard stimulus plan, I guess." Reid agreed: "Exactly."
Early in Saturday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor reported: "Tonight there are new allegations of torture by the CIA. Newsweek magazine is reporting that a secret 2004 report reveals that interrogators used mock executions to intimidate prisoners."
Glor went on to talk to Newsweek reporter Mark Hosenball, who claimed: "And in the case of one detainee that we know about, somebody named Abdel-Rahman al Nashiri, who was an alleged architect of the USS Cole bombing, this report alleges that at some point CIA interrogators, whether contractors or CIA staff officers, brandished a gun in front of this guy in an effort to frighten him and also took a power drill in front of him and turn turned it on and went ‘bzzz,’ implying therefore that they were going to use it on him."
Meanwhile, neither the Saturday nor Friday Evening News programs made any mention of reports that ACLU attorneys defending Guantanamo detainees illegally showed terror suspects photos of CIA personnel in an effort to implicate interrogators in acts of torture. On Friday, the Washington Post reported: "The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation."
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Ben Tracy reported on the ending of the problem-ridden Cash for Clunkers car buying program, but spun it this way: "Thanks to Cash for Clunkers, what could have been a dismal summer for car sales now has a Hollywood ending....But now, the wildly successful program that provided up to $4500 per clunker is being scrapped."
Tracy visited a Los Angeles Toyota car dealership, hence the Hollywood reference, and spoke with owner Don Mushin who explained: "We normally sell about 300 cars a month. We’re on track this month to do about 600." However, Tracy went on to acknowledge: "Yet, there have been problems. Dealers have to front the money for the rebates, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the government has been slow to pay them back.."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed commentator Dick Morris about his latest book critical of the Obama administration, Catastrophe. After reading the book’s full title, Rodriguez observed: "This title, though, Mr. Morris, can’t you see a lot of people dismissing it right off the bat as alarmist? It screams at you."
In response, Morris pointed out the dire state of the economy: "9.5% unemployment, four quarters of negative growth, our car companies in receivership, our health care program about to be taken over, and banks being nationalized, and I’m alarmist?"
Rodriguez replied by citing recent media spin that the recession is over: "Well what about the positive indicators? Because not so long ago, it was on the cover of every magazine, the topic of every cable show and Sunday morning show, that we were kind of digging out of the recession. We saw three straight months of rising home sales, the stock market up more than 40% since March. Ford beat expectations. Doesn’t that count?"
Following MSNBC coverage of ObamaCare protesters legally carrying guns, on Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation condemned the liberal network for "using deceptively-edited video from a Phoenix, Arizona anti-tax rally on Monday to invent a racial stereotype in its on-going effort to demonize and marginalize American firearms owners as ‘racists.’"
As NewsBusters reported on Tuesday, MSNBC correspondent Contessa Brewer, along with Morning Meeting host Dylan Ratigan and pop culture analyst Toure, depicted all gun-carrying protesters as being "white," "racist," and even a threat to President Obama’s life. Brewer cited one such gun-toting protester, but used highly edited video footage that did not reveal the man was actually African-American.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Daniel Sieberg reported on a young global warming activist from California: "...everyday citizens of all ages are doing their part to raise awareness of climate change....15-year-old Alec Loorz takes his message across the country, using poles to illustrate the predicted sea level rise if nothing is done to prevent global warning."
At one point, Loorz declared: "All of lower Manhattan would be underwater." That’s not the first time such a claim was made on the CBS morning news program. On November 5, 2007, Early Show co-host Harry Smith interviewed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg about a proposal to impose a national carbon tax and declared that "Manhattan will be underwater by 2050" if global warming was left unchecked.
On Wednesday, Sieberg went on to tout Loorz’s activism: "Alec’s voice also has the support of a former vice president. At the age of just 12, he applied to be part of Al Gore’s network of official speakers. It took some persistence, but eventually, Alec was accepted....And Alec’s cool factor certainly isn’t lost on his friends and family members."
On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: "A man at a pro-health care reform rally...wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip....there are questions about whether this has racial overtones....white people showing up with guns."Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black.
Following Brewer’s report, which occurred on the Morning Meeting program, host Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. Toure argued: "...there is tremendous anger in this country about government, the way government seems to be taking over the country, anger about a black person being president....we see these hate groups rising up and this is definitely part of that." Ratigan agreed: "...then they get the variable of a black president on top of all these other things and that’s the move – the cherry on top, if you will, to the accumulated frustration for folks."
Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black. The man appeared at a health care rally outside of President Obama’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner touted President Obama’s latest PR blitz to promote health care reform: "For the third time in five days, Barack Obama used the presidential bully pulpit on behalf of what he’s now calling health insurance reform. No more letting the angry opposition control the agenda."
Teichner dismissed that "angry opposition" by declaring: "Here’s a question. Do they even know what’s in the bills currently being considered by Congress? Do you?" Teichner and two liberal supporters of the Obama health care plan proceeded to educate viewers as to what was being proposed.
She spoke with former head of the left-wing group People for the American Way, Ralph Neas, now CEO of the supposedly "non-partisan" National Coalition on Health Care that is pushing for reform. In addition, Teichner spoke with University of North Carolina Professor Jonathan Oberlander, who in a July 22 article for the liberal British newspaper The Guardian wrote: "The Obama administration is pushing Congress to enact health reform legislation this year. And against all odds, Obama may pull it off....Obama’s election, after all, is a reminder that history is not always repeated. Sometimes it is made."
On MSNBC Friday, anchor John Harwood spoke with New York Times Week in Review editor Sam Tanenhaus about the health care debate, wondering: "...you know an awful lot about the patron saint of modern conservatism William F. Buckley. What do you suppose Bill Buckley would think of the nature of the arguments that are being made against the Obama health care plan right now, death panels and all the rest?"
Harwood, hosting the 2:00PM ET weekly New York Times Edition broadcast, was asking about Tanenhaus’s upcoming book, ‘The Death of Conservatism.’ Tanenhaus argued: "Well, you know, one of the great contributions Bill Buckley made to conservatism was to move it toward the center. And one way he did that was to repudiate in a very forceful way what was then called the lunatic fringe."
At that time, Harwood interjected: "The John Birch Society." Tanenhaus continued: "And they weren’t necessarily a dangerous group, but what they did was discredit serious conservative arguments." He then made the comparison to the current health care debate: "...and we may see in the days ahead where serious responsible Republicans and conservative thinkers say if they’re going to make a forceful argument the country can accept, they’ll have to cut themselves off from this more extreme view."
Harwood concluded: "Well, it’s an interesting point. It’s – I don’t see right now anybody cutting off that extreme view all that much."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric used a free clinic in Inglewood, California to push for health care reform: "Tonight in the battle over health care, they are on the front lines....we’re going to show you why many believe reform is desperately needed. These are just some of the tens of thousands of Americans who need health care but have no insurance or not enough of it."
In the report that followed, correspondent Bill Whitaker described the organization that set up the free health clinic: "This program is run by Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit group established 24 years ago to take modern medicine to the third world. Today, they do some 40 multi-day free clinics a year, 65% of them now in the U.S." Whitaker spoke to one volunteer physician, who compared the need for health care in the U.S. to that of third world nations: "Here at home, we have as much a need as I do when I travel to the most remote areas of India, and that’s very heartbreaking."
On March 2 of last year, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a story on Remote Area Medical in which anchor Scott Pelley made similar third world comparisons when discussing the American health care system: "Recently, we heard about an American relief organization that air drops doctors and medicine into the jungles of the Amazon....But these days, that’s not the Amazon – this charity founded to help people who can’t reach medical care now finds itself throwing America a lifeline."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on dispelling myths about health care reform: "There’s so much anger, this vitriol that we see day after day in these town meetings across the country....We’re going to try and determine this morning whether or not some of these bold statements are, in fact, true or not."
Smith turned to Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of the left-wing magazine, The New Republic, to find the "truth" about the President’s health care plan. Smith made no mention of Cohn’s political affiliation or the magazine’s liberal leanings but did find time to promote his guest’s latest book: "Jonathan Cohn is senior editor of The New Republic and author ‘Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis And The People Who Pay The Price.’"
On Wednesday, Cohn wrote an article for The New Republic entitled: "The Swiftboating of Health Reform," in which he attacked conservative critics of the health care plan: "It’d be one thing if the lunatics on the right had a coherent argument for why these initiatives might be ineffective or counterproductive. But they don’t even bother to acknowledge them, preferring instead to throw out scare quotes like this one from [Sarah] Palin: ‘Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.’"
At the top of the 8:00AM ET hour of Wednesday’s Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell cited protests at health care reform town hall meetings as evidence that the debate was "turning into a nasty national shouting match."
After playing a clip of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad opposing the health care plan, Mitchell observed: "Democratic lawmakers pushing reform are being jeered at testy town hall meetings. President Obama is urging Americans to ignore those who he says are trying to scare and mislead."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "As President Obama takes his health care reform plan to the people, anger spills out all over the country." Smith later introduced a segment on President Obama’s Tuesday town hall: "First though, tempers boiled over again Tuesday in the heated debate over health care, nearly everywhere that is, except inside President Obama’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire."
On Wednesday, the CBS Early Show once again feared a rise in right-wing extremism as co-host Russ Mitchell cited a report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center: "A report out this morning says anti-government and white racist militias are regrouping around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center says it is in part a reaction to the election of America’s first black president." [Audio/video (1:21): Mp3 | WMV]
The CBS morning show touted a similar report from the liberal group on April 15, with co-host Harry Smith declaring: "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." Smith went on to describe how that report coincided with a controversial Homeland Security report that was released at the same time.
The Wednesday story was reported by correspondent Bob Orr, who cited anecdotal evidence: