During the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Wednesday, political analyst Pat Buchanan wondered why President Obama’s short list for the Supreme Court only included women, in response, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared: "Did it ever occur to you, Pat, that maybe there weren’t any white men who were qualified?" (video here)
Buchanan replied: "No, it did not occur to me...You mean there are no white males qualified? That is – that would be an act of bigotry to make a statement like that." O’Donnell defended her remark by claiming past discrimination against women in the nominating process: "In the past there have been no women that have been qualified." Buchanan argued: "They certainly have been qualified in the past. I don’t doubt there are. But probably half of the great lawyers and judges are white males in this country. And to rule them out, why? Because of their sex and because of their race is wrong, I think. At least it’s affirmative action."
O’Donnell rejected Buchanan’s claim: "I don’t think you have proof that they did that." Buchanan asked: "How did he come down to four women?" O’Donnell simply repeated White House talking points: "He said that they were the best and that met the views that he had, the particular criteria." Buchanan summed up that "criteria": "One of them, it’s got to be a woman, and the other it got down to be, ‘hey, it’s an Hispanic,’ that’s affirmative action."
During the 2:00PM hour of live Wednesday coverage on MSNBC, anchor Carlos Watson called on President Obama to stand up for gay marriage, comparing the issue to the civil rights movement: "You know what I predict, just like we saw LBJ in the late 60's, very unexpectedly and very famously, looked into the camera, addressed the nation, and say ‘we shall overcome,’ adopting the language of the civil rights movement, I wouldn't be surprised if before 2012 we see President Obama get out in front on this."
Watson made the comment while discussing the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8 with Roy Seacoff, editor of the left-wing Huffington Post. Earlier in the segment, Seacoff commented on a recent article Watson wrote for the liberal website: "Now Carlos, I know, because I read it on the Huffington Post... That you think that this is the moral equivalent of Plessy vs. Ferguson." Watson explained: "The old – the old 1890s case that said ‘separate but equal.’" Seacoff added: "Right, separate but equal. Right. And I tend to agree with you, which makes me sad that Obama is behind the curve on this issue."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez was unusually tough on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as she asked the judge’s former clerk, Julia Tarver Mason, about some of Sotomayor's past controversial comments: "...she, herself, has rejected the notion that a judge should decide cases based solely on facts and the law...referring to one case – she hopes that ‘a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion than a white male.’What do you say to critics who say if a white conservative male had said that, he would have been booted out of the judiciary?"
Mason defended her former boss: "Well, I think that comment has been grossly misconstrued, frankly, it was a comment she made in a speech a decade ago, talking about the importance diversity on the court... when she decides a case, she decides it based on the law, as that's appropriate." Earlier Mason had argued that Sotomayor was "legal purist" and "...not someone who is going to try to reach a particular result in a particular case. She calls them straight down the middle, just like she sees them."
Rodriguez later followed up with a question about one of Sotomayor’s most controversial decisions: "Some of her critics are also bringing up a case where she sided against some white firefighters who claimed reverse discrimination in hiring practices...Rush Limbaugh has called her a ‘reverse racist.’ Could that be true?" Mason denounced Limbaugh: "That's an absurd notion. If – Judge Sotomayor is one of the most egalitarian people I’ve ever met...the fact that people from the right are throwing these outrageous allegations right now is just an indication that they don't know much about her record...it was not in any way a radical decision by her. And it was supported by the city of New Haven itself. So if you call her racist, you have to call the entire city of New Haven racist."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: "New details about that foiled terrorist plot in New York. Are American jails becoming breeding grounds for home-grown terrorists?" In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly Wallace explained: "Three of the suspects are U.S. citizens, all are Muslim. Three of the four are said to be jailhouse converts...One study estimates that as many as 175,000 inmates of American prisons converted to Islam since September 11th."
Despite such a shocking statistic, from a 2007 Indiana State University study, Wallace made no mention of President Obama’s plan to release Islamic fundamentalists from Guantanamo into American prisons. Wallace did feature terrorism expert and former Bush aide Juan Zarate, who observed: "I think what you have here is a volatile admixture of radical religious thought, combined with violent extremism. And within the prison walls it becomes a really dangerous mix." A "mix" that would be made even more dangerous if Guantanamo terrorist suspects were added.
Immediately following Wallace’s report, co-host Harry Smith and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer discussed the dueling national security speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, including the topic of closing Guantanamo. However, neither Smith nor Schieffer referenced the startling report that had just preceded them.
While discussing Thursday’s opposing national security speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Cheney, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer acknowledged: "...the fact that the President of the United States had to make this speech, the fact that Congress had turned him down in giving him the money to close Guantanamo, I have to say that on points, I give it to -- to the Vice President on this...Right now I think the Vice President has made his case. And at this point I'd have to say he's winning."
Meanwhile, co-host Harry Smih at least admitted a draw: "I think it behooves everybody who cares a whit about this issue at all, that they go on Youtube, or go online, and read the transcripts of every single word that was uttered. Because both speeches were breathtaking, I think, in their scope, in their pointedness."
While both Smith and Schieffer recognized Cheney’s success at countering Obama on issues like closing Guantanamo Bay, near the end of the segment Schieffer still declared: "I think most people think that Guantanamo is an open sore. That it in many ways it's a recruiting tool for these terrorists." At the same, he acknowledged the newfound difficulty in closing the facility: "But, getting it closed, what do you do with these people? Because, I mean, let's face it, there's some bad dudes down there. And no congressman wants those people brought back in to his home district, even to be put into prison. The President has got to come up with a detailed plan on how he plans to do this."
Immediately following a speech by former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday, MSNBC assembled its usual panel of left-wing pundits to tear him down, including political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell, who proclaimed: "Well, he came today to -- obviously to do nothing much other than defend torture, which he calls 'tough questioning.' This was as sleazy a presentation by a vice president as we've had since Spiro Agnew. This was an absolute abomination."
Chris Matthews anchored the coverage and had just asked O’Donnell: "Lawrence, can he get away with this? Giving a speech that's -- well, it was 16 pages long -- and never mention the main foreign policy initiative of the administration just passed, which is the war in Iraq." After O’Donnell denounced Cheney’s sleaziness, he went on this diatribe:
He [Cheney] cannot, ever, frame the other side's position honestly. What you saw with Obama earlier was Obama describes the other side's position fairly. He then goes on to advance his position. Cheney comes out and lies about the other side, it's the only way he can talk. He says that Obama will not use the word 'terrorist,' when Obama does indeed use that word. He pretends that all we did was tough questioning. He says that 9/11 -- he says that 9/11 made everyone take a second look at the threat. That is a lie. Dick Cheney and the President were in possession of memos that said this threat was present, this particular methodology was going to come, that they were going to use airliners. He and the President failed in their first nine months in office to pay any attention to the A.Q. Khan network, who he now wants to take credit for dismantling. What did Cheney do before 9/11? He denies, in this speech, that 9/11 changed him and then describes his very specific activities on 9/11, which were frightening for the Vice President. Then he goes on to say that he thinks about it every day. This guy just has to lie from beginning to end through his setup of his opposition's position in order to advance any of his ideas at all, none of which have any proof to them at all.
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported breaking news of a terror plot in New York foiled by the FBI: "The FBI busts a home-grown terror plot, arresting four men who planned to bomb synagogues and shoot down aircraft." Later, Rodriguez spoke with terrorism expert and former Bush aide, Juan Zarate, about the failed attack: "There's no question these guys were serious. When they were captured they were planting what they thought were three real bombs inside cars. My question is, how common is this? Are these guys just the minority? Or is this type of thing rampant?"
Zarate responded by specifically citing similar domestic terror plots that were prevented under the Bush administration: "I don't think this is unusual. The FBI has taken down other cells like this in the past. Recall the Fort Dix plot in New Jersey, recall a plot in Chicago to go after malls and civilians walking around malls. So we've seen this kind of home-grown terrorist cell and activity before." In May of 2007, the CBS Evening News actually downplayed the arrest of six suspects in the Fort Dix case, with correspondent Armen Keteyian declaring: "...more than 400,000 names have come under one form of government surveillance or another -- from watch lists to wiretaps. But only a handful of terrorists have been convicted in cases with concrete ties to al-Qaeda."
Reacting to a speech by Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele during Tuesday’s 3:00 EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared: "In case you missed it, we compiled the greatest and the best of Michael Steele. Some people said that a lot of the cliches he used in his speech you could string them together and it would make a bad Hallmark card." An edited clip of Steele’s speech was played, highlighting his calls for Republicans to turn the corner.
A laughing O’Donnell turned to Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons and Republican strategist Phil Musser to discuss the future of the GOP: "Alright, Phil, did you get the point that the honeymoon is over, the navel-gazing is done? There was a lot of this emphasis on turning the page, which is all well and good, but there was no prescription for change in what the Republican Party's going to do. Isn't that a problem?" Musser shot back: "Well, I think Michael Steele is making an important point that you can only be on defense for so long, and with all due respect to your setup, which keeps us on defense, you know, that I think that the Republican Party has acknowledged their sin, certainly paid the measure of price for it and are now in the process of moving forward with proactive ideas."
At the top of Tuesday’s 2:00PM EST hour on MSNBC, co-anchors Contessa Brewer and Melissa Francis spoke with Reuters correspondent Jon Decker about a speech by Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele on the future of the GOP, with Brewer citing Democratic reaction: "Here's the Democratic National Committee's response to Steele: ‘The test of the sincerity of the Chairman's words will be if he and otherGOP leaders stand up to the fringe elements of their party and whether they tell the polarizing faces of the past, including Cheney, Gingrich, and Limbaugh, to stand aside. Unfortunately, they have shown no willingness to do so.’"
In response to the DNC talking points, Decker argued that Steele would have to turn to moderate Republicans: "Michael Steele will have to recruit candidates thatmay not be the typical type of Republican that we've seen in the past few election cycles, the hard right social conservative Republicans. He's going to have to perhaps look to some moderate Republicans, some of the people who have left the party, who have been defeated over the past few election cycles, if he wants to try to be a majority party once again."
At that point, Francis wondered if the GOP should allow the more conservative members of the party to be "crushed" by Obama: "...but in some sense, doesn't it make sense to put a lot of the old faces out there right now? Because almost anybody is going to get crushed in the undertow of President Obama's popularity. So why not make the sacrificial lamb, you know, some of the people that, you know, are part of the old Republican Party, and just let them get crushed for now. Can you see that strategy at all?"
While reporting on the Obama administration’s plan to impose higher fuel standards on cars and trucks on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Obama environmental advisor Carol Browner: "As a former long-time administrator of the EPA, how overdue is this?" Browner replied: "It is long overdue. You know, Congress stood in the way of tougher fuel economy standards for a long time. That finally was fixed."
Smith did question the higher price of cars for consumers that would result from the tougher standards: "With the added price tag cost to these average vehicles, and much higher -- higher gas mileage and fewer emissions, what is my incentive, what is my dollar incent – incentive to buy a car like this?" Browner argued that consumers would save money in the long-run due to better gas mileage: "...whether you want to buy a bigger car or a smaller car, they will all be more efficient, and cleaner. So we're preserving the consumer choice, but giving every consumer the opportunity to save money at the pump." Smith replied: "Will SUVs and pickup trucks go the way of the dinosaur, though?"
Filling in for Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, host Harry Smith helped finish the sentences of ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, while grilling New York Republican Congressman Peter King during a discussion on recent national security decisions by the Obama administration.
Smith began by asking Romero about the Obama administration’s decision to reinstate military tribunals for terror suspects: "The headlines from this -- no evidence admitted gained from harsh interrogation techniques. Hearsay, some hearsay will be admissible in court. To you, Anthony Romero, is there any good news in this?" Romero replied: "First, by continuing with the Bush military commissions, we are going to delay justice. It will take years before we see justice in these commissions." Smith helped to bolster the point: "Because, one, there’s -- already they said at least hundred and twenty days before this can go on."
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming interview with Caroline Kennedy about the annual John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Awards: "Profiles in Courage, it's that time of year again where we chat with Caroline Kennedy about the people who will be honored up in Boston. May ask her a question or two about her own brush with courage and the Senate."
Smith was of course alluding to Kennedy’s bid to be appointed to the New York Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State earlier this year. However, based on his later question to Kennedy about it, one would have a hard time figuring out what he was referring to: "You had your own brush with public service, and politics, this year. Does it give you an even greater appreciation for some of the risks involved?" An on-screen graphic was a little more to the point: "Failed Senate Campaign: Caroline Kennedy Opens Up."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show White House correspondent Chip Reid reported on President Obama’s controversial commencement address at Notre Dame University over the weekend, but dismissed pro-life protesters as interlopers from outside groups: "The President did come under fire, but mostly from university outsiders, anti-abortion activists. But inside that graduation ceremony, his reception was much warmer than some had expected...But the vast majority here welcomed the President with open arms."
Reid briefly described some of the protest efforts: "There were hundreds of protesters waiting for the President when he arrived at Notre Dame. Hecklers who interrupted his commencement speech several times." Reid then declared: "And some who saw an opportunity to re-ignite the national debate on abortion." A clip was then played of Obama’s former Senate race opponent, Republican Alan Keyes: "Barack Obama's deeply committed to what [Pope] John Paul [II] called the culture of death and the murder of innocent children."
Reid’s report did not feature any members of the Notre Dame faculty or student body opposed to Obama speaking or mention a separate commencement ceremony that several pro-life students attended on campus. In addition, Reid failed to acknowledge a recent Gallup poll that showed a majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen read some viewer email, including a question from one woman who asked: "Would you be willing to jeopardize your job to report something your bosses or the government wanted to keep hidden?" Co-host Harry Smith used the question as an opportunity to voice his opposition to the Iraq war:
You know, I remember being in Iraq before the war started, we were there just a couple of -- a couple of weeks before the war started and it came, it was really, really clear to me on the ground that this didn't make any sense. And I remember coming back, but there was all this sort of preponderance of opinion that this -- this thing should go on. And I kept thinking to myself, 'this doesn't -- there's -- I'm not connecting the dots everybody else is connecting.' And if I have a regret in my reporting life that I didn't stand up then and say, 'this doesn't make any sense.'
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith took a critical tone against the Obama administration’s decision to reinstate military tribunals for terror suspects: "President Obama will resume the controversial military tribunals for some terror suspects." Smith later discussed the decision with John Dickerson from Slate.com and wondered what the hard left would think: "Let's talk about this decision by the Obama administration to go ahead and have tribunals for some of these terror suspects. The whole part of the -- a huge part of Obama's campaign was repudiation of this Bush policy in Guantanamo. What are Obama's supporters going to think of this decision this morning?"
Dickerson responded by attempting to explain that the decision was not a reversal by Obama: "Well, they have a lot of reason to be upset with him for a variety of decisions he's made recently. But Obama always said that he would take a look at these tribunals...He never said he would do away with them completely...So they will probably be upset. They would like the President to do away with the tribunals altogether. But in terms of matching what he's done now with his previous statements, he's still in line with what he said before."
While both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today on Thursday covered President Obama’s decision to block the public release of photos depicting prisoner abuse under U.S. custody, CBS’s Early Show failed to make any mention of the dramatic reversal by the White House.
On Wednesday, CBS senior White House correspondent Bill Plante asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the President’s decision and he later reported the story on the CBS Evening News, explaining: "The ACLU, which sued for release of the pictures, said the President's decision flies in the face of his promise of transparent government." A clip of Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU was played: "So if you accept the administration's logic, you'd really have to give the government wholesale censorship power and that's not something that we can accept and it's not something that the courts have accepted." Plante concluded: "Candidate Obama pushed for full disclosure. President Obama has decided that there are times when transparency is a tough call." However, when Plante was on the Early Show on Thursday, to discuss speculation of the President’s Supreme Court pick, the topic never came up.
While appearing on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show comedian Joan Rivers shared her thoughts on the Miss California controversy: "It's all so stupid and she's taking it so seriously and so well coached...My advice is oh, relax. God wants you to shut up...You know, you've done enough already." Co-hosts Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, and Julie Chen all laughed in response and shared in mocking Carrie Prejean.
Just prior to Rivers’ comment, Chen asked about the comedian’s recent appearance on NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’: "Joan, I have a quick question. You know, now that you won 'Celebrity Apprentice,' the public holds you to a certain standard...But for the record, Joan, do semi-nude or nude photos exist of you? I mean, state it right now so, you know, Donald Trump knows if he has to think about firing you or not." Rivers replied: "If Donald had seen the cover of my latest book, I wouldn't have made it. And that was taken during a storm. It blew that way."
At that point, Rivers held up a copy of book, entitled: "Men Are Stupid...And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery." The book’s cover featured a picture of Rivers with photo-shopped Dolly Parton-sized breasts. Rodriguez referred to her earlier interview with Prejean: "So, Miss California won't talk about her implants. Can you talk about yours?" Smith pointed to the book and added: "Maybe if Miss California had implants like that she would've won."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez interrogated Miss California Carrie Prejean, wondering if the beauty queen was a hypocrite for standing up for Christian values: "I know that you are a devout Christian, and some people have said that it's hypocritical, and a little bit of a double standard, for you to be preaching Christianity, yet posing topless...And you don't feel it interferes in any way with your faith or what you preach publicly?"
Prejean defended herself, explaining: "Absolutely not. And my message to my, you know, church and to the young girls that attend the church is, 'you know, I am a very strong woman today.' And the decisions I made when I was 16 and 17 years old, I was very naive, trying to get into the modeling, you know, industry. And I definitely would not make those decisions today."
Rodriguez also tried to portray Prejean as being forced to back down: "The pageant has said that you can continue wearing your crown, but that they will have to monitor the statements that you make. You're such an advocate of free speech, how do feel about their control over your statements?" Rodriguez then asked: "Will you officially come out in support of any particular organization or as a spokesperson for any organization?" Prejean replied: "I don't plan on doing that, no." Rodriguez wondered: "Is that because pageant officials say that you can't?"
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith repeated liberal talking points while asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about President Obama’s plan to nationalize the health care system: "People get worried when the idea of somebody messing with their health care comes along, but the fact is, is we spend trillions of dollars on health care every year, and if anything is helping or contributing to killing the economy, it's that cost. Why is it so important that this be dealt with?"
Sebelius easily hit that softball: "It isn't about cutting services. It's about doing smarter, more efficient, better medicine for the American people. Too many Americans now come through the doors of an emergency room. Most expensive, least effective care...And frankly, there's a lot more efficiency we can gain in terms of lowering drug costs, lowering costs across the board without cutting services."
Smith concluded the interview by wishing Sebelius "good luck" on implementing the massive government expansion.
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "Oops, she did it again. More semi-nude photos of Miss California surface. So will Donald Trump be forced to say, 'you're fired'?" Later, co-host Julie Chen teased the upcoming segment by exclaiming: "Well, up next, more semi-nude photos of Miss California leak onto the internet. So will Donald Trump end her reign today?"
Correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on Trump’s awaited decision: "Even more semi-nude photos of Carrie Prejean surfaced overnight, adding fuel to a fire that's been building for days. The controversy kicked off when Prejean opposed gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant. In a radio interview, Prejean said the question tested her faith...But there were other temptations. Breast implants paid for by the pageant. And racy photos. Still, Prejean remains the poster girl for conservative causes." A clip was played of an TV ad from the National Organization for Marriage that featured Prejean.
Solorzano went on to explain: "Monday, the directors of the state pageant were clearly angry with Prejean." A clip was played of Miss California USA Co-executive Director Keith Lewis taking a shot at Prejean and the "conservative causes" she has been a part of: "Up until now, we have just been riding along pretty much a passenger on this runaway train. But as of today, that ends...Shame, shame, shame. Shame for taking this young woman and exploiting her to further your own agenda."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith and weatherman Dave Price described attending Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner and Smith commented on the controversial joke about Rush Limbaugh made by comedian Wanda Sykes: "She told a joke about Rush Limbaugh as being one of the -- one of the hijackers and the reason he didn't make the flight was because he was, you know, on drugs or whatever...And the whole place -- yeah -- so the whole place groaned, and I ran into Keith Olbermann afterwards...And he said 'I'm not sure, I think that was probably -- probably in bad taste.' I said 'what do you think her job is?’"
In one of many jokes attacking conservatives, Sykes remarked: "I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on oxycontin he missed his flight." Apparently, while even left-wing bomber thrower Keith Olbermann thought that was over the line, Smith defended Sykes: "Well, you know what, any comedian, anybody who does that job, their job is to push the envelope...You can't go home -- you can't go home to the community of comedians unless you've gone too far."
Co-host Julie Chen later wondered: "But how did the room react, you guys, who was there?" Smith replied: "They groaned, serious groan...And Michelle Obama, in particular, was very uncomfortable with some of Wanda Sykes." Dave Price explained: "It was pretty much the only groan. I mean, there were a couple of other small ones. But she was -- she was pretty much en fuego [on fire]."
While introducing an interview with disgraced Miami Priest Alberto Cutie, who was recently found to be in a romantic relationship with a woman, co-host Maggie Rodriguez again used the scandal to argue that the Catholic Church should overturn its celibacy requirement for priests: "We go right to a story that has single-handedly revived the debate over whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry." On Thursday, Rodriguez began reporting on the story by wondering if the vow was "outdated," "rigid," and "a nearly impossible standard" for priests.
Following Rodriguez’s introduction, correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "What started as a local scandal has turned into an emotional debate over the Catholic Church's 900-year-old celibacy rule. In an Associated Press poll taken in 2005, 69% of Catholics said the Church should allow priests to marry. Many of Father Cutie's parishioners agree."
Near the end of interview with Cutie, Rodriguez asked: "You don't believe that the celibacy promise should be lifted?...If they don't change this policy, do you think that they will continue to lose people, or fail to recruit people who feel the Church is too rigid?" Earlier in the interview, Cutie explained: "I don't want to be the anti-celibacy priest. I think that's unfortunate. I think it's a debate that's going on in our society, and now I've become kind of a poster boy for it. But I don't want to be that. I believe that celibacy is good, and that it's a good commitment to God."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez continued to report on a scandal involving Miami priest Alberto Cutie despite admitting that he was "...a family friend whom I've known for many, many years" on Thursday. Rodriguez introduced a Friday report by describing Cutie’s popularity: "The scandal involving celebrity priest Alberto Cutie in Miami is heating up as parishioners at his church rally in support of their popular leader. But not everyone is behind him." Correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "There's no doubt the parishioners' passion for the man they call ‘Father Oprah.’ Such passion that when this man dared to speak out against Father Alberto Cutie at a rally in Miami Beach Thursday -- he was swarmed."
On Thursday, Rodriguez vigorously defended her friend by asking CBS religion analyst, Father Thomas Williams, about the Catholic Church’s "rigid" and "outdated" requirement that priests take a vow of celibacy. Following the Thursday story, NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock questioned Rodriguez on Twitter about violating journalistic ethics by her reporting on someone she knows personally. Rodriguez replied to the tweet and argued: "I respectfully disagree. If I hadn't disclosed that I know him, then it would have been a violation...but there are no secrets." Having brushed aside any concerns of bias, at the end of the Friday report, Rodriguez announced that she would be interviewing Cutie exclusively on Monday.
While reporting on a popular Miami priest, Father Alberto Cutie, getting caught on a beach with a woman, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with CBS religion analyst Father Thomas Williams and criticized the Catholic Church for requiring a vow of celibacy for priests: "The Catholic Church, as you know, has been criticized, and you and I have talked about this, for being outdated and losing both parishioners and people who may want to serve, because it is so rigid. Do you think it's time for the Catholic Church to reconsider the vow of celibacy that it requires of its priests?" Williams replied: "Well, I'm not really sure. I think you can't attribute an act of unfaithfulness to the institution itself. It would be kind of like saying that adultery is caused by marriage. It doesn't really make sense."
Just before talking to Williams, Rodriguez admitted: "I should, in the interest of full disclosure, say that Father Albert is a family friend whom I've known for many, many years." At the end of the segment, Rodriguez added: "Yeah, just a couple of weeks ago he [Father Cutie] officiated my niece's wedding. I haven't talked to her about how she feels about this. But yeah, we've known him for many, many years. And he wants to continue serving God." Instead of taking Rodriguez off the story because of this personal connection, its appears CBS kept her on it because they thought it added an interesting angle, even if it made objectivity impossible.
While a segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show reported on an upcoming book by Elizabeth Edwards in which she discusses her reaction to husband John Edwards having an affair, at no time was Edwards’ Democratic Party affiliation mentioned. Co-host Maggie Rodriguez began the story: "But first, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, is about to release a memoir called 'Resilience.' Mrs. Edwards, who has cancer, speaks out about her husband's very public betrayal of her, an affair with a former campaign worker."
In a report by correspondent Bianca Soloranzo, past infidelities of Democratic politicians were mentioned, but no party affiliations were given: "Elizabeth Edwards joins a long line of political wives who have stood by their cheating spouses." A clip of former President Bill Clinton was played: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate." A clip was also played of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family." Beth Frerking of Politico was quoted downplaying such affairs: " I think when people marry people that go into politics or have ambitions to go into politics, they know that this is part of the package. And I think really it's the exception when that spouse leaves."
Following the report, Rodriguez spoke with psychologist Robi Ludwig about the frequency of politicians cheating on their spouses, but prefaced the discussion by exclaiming: "First of all, we should say we're not in their house, we're not in their shoes, we don't know why they made the decision they made...Very important, I think, to point out." Rodriguez never made that disclaimer when making personal judgments about Bristol Palin or Miss California Carrie Prejean.
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on the possibility of Miss California, Carrie Prejean, losing her crown over some racy photos: "And will Carrie lose her crown? Suggestive photos of the already controversial Miss California hit the internet. Are they a deal-breaker?" Later co-host Harry Smith similarly declared: "More hot water for Miss California. Millions heard her pageant answer, controversy that ensued about that. And now she may be adding the word 'former' to her title. We'll tell you why."
Prejean became "controversial" when she expressed her opposition to gay marriage while responding to a question from Miss USA pageant judge and liberal gay blogger, Perez Hilton. On April 21, the Early Show gave Hilton the opportunity to continue to attack Prejean, while failing call him out on vulgar insults he used against the beauty contestant. On May 1, Rodriguez went after Prejean for reportedly getting breast implants paid for by pageant organizers: "...this time it isn't about her views on gay marriage, but rather, about her figure...She said those were her real feelings. But now it appears something about Carrie Prejean may not be so real."
At the end of Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bill Whitaker gave a fawning report on a book being complied of children’s letters to President Obama: "Eight-year-old Lucy O'Brien loves to draw, ask her dad, a fine antiques dealer...She also knows times are hard at dad's business...So when her mother told her about a 'Dear Mr. President' contest, lucky winners' art and letters presented to President Obama, she poured her heart into it." The young girl explained to Whitaker: "I had added like, confetti, and stuff like that, and then I added 'hope' on the top to show for the future that there's hope for maybe the economy or something."
Whitaker spoke with the book’s creator and CEO of the website kidthing.com, Larry Hitchcock, who described some of the other letters: "We had to extend the deadline because so many were coming in...A 6-year-old who just wants the President to ‘make it rain candy’...’Poor people should have food.’" A clip was played of one girl asking the President: "Please take care of the environment." Later, Hitchcock declared: "There's a theme through all of it of hope and kind of belief that tomorrow's going to be a better day."
Following controversial comments about the death of former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp by newly Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter on Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, neither Sunday’s CBS Evening News nor Monday’s Early Show made any mention of the remarks.
While talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, Specter suggested that if members of Congress had supported his legislative efforts on cancer research funding, people like Kemp may still be alive and certain cancers may have been cured:
And one of the items that I’m working on, Bob, is funding for medical research. I’ve been the spear carrier to increase medical research. And I’ve even established a Web site, specterforthecure.com, to try to get people to put more pressure on Congress to join me in getting more funding. This medical research has been a reawakening-- the ten billion dollars. We were about to lose a whole generation of scientists. And now they’re enthused. There are fifteen thousand applications to be granted. If we had pursued what President Nixon declared in 1970 as the war on cancer, we would have cured many strains. I think Jack Kemp would be alive today. And that research has saved or prolonged many lives, including mine. Now, as the New York Times pointed out in a column today, when you talk about life and death and medical research, that’s a much more major consideration on what I can do, continuing in the Senate, contrasted with which party I belong to.
Apparently, CBS did not see anything controversial in such a self-aggrandizing statement.
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, correspondent David Martin reported on the "soft approach" to terrorism in Saudi Arabia: "Each time the United States releases Saudis from the prison at Guantanamo, the kingdom dispatches a 747 to Cuba to pick them up...the Saudi government is paying for cars, homes, even marriages for these reformed jihadists."
After explaining that "...more than half the so-called 'detainees' will probably never go before a jury because the U.S. government does not have a case that will stand up in court," Martin went on to describe a Saudi Arabian program for released detainees: "What we found is a rehabilitation program that attempts to make solid citizens out of holy warriors by convincing them Bin Laden has it all wrong."
Not only did Martin highlight the Saudi efforts to "rehabilitate" terror suspects, but he explained: "Some Saudis have been in Guantanamo for seven years, and Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Hadlaq believes the longer a man is there, the harder he is to treat." Martin then asked Hadlaq, a Saudi psychologist who runs the program: "They come out of Guantanamo hating Americans?...Is there evidence that Guantanamo has made them more radical?" Hadlaq replied: "I think so, yes. Because, in their journey, you know, from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, they have faced a lot of torturing. It's so important to deal with this, you know, issue of torture."
In response, Martin added: "‘Torture’ is, of course, a loaded word, but at the very least, the treatment en route to Guantanamo was rough, and provided the raw material for Al Qaeda propaganda videos to drum up new recruits."
During the 3PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie for reaction to President Obama’s surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to discuss the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter: "Savannah, let me just start with you, the shock factor. I mean, you've got that seat right there by where the President walked out. Were you surprised?" Guthrie replied: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting." [audio for download here]
Guthrie went on to explain: "I had kind of been giving Gibbs a little bit of a hard time, saying, 'look, why does everyone in Washington know this and you're telling us there's been no communication between Justice Souter, the Supreme Court, and the White House?' And sure enough, the President walks in and said ‘I just got off the phone with Justice Souter.’" O’Donnell asked: "Are you suggesting, Savannah, it was your questions that were the reason the President walked out? Because that sounds like where you're going with this." Guthrie humbly replied: "Well, I'm not quite that self-centered. But all I'm saying is I'm very happy to have my question answered, and certainly, personally by the President."