CNN's Costello: States' Rights is Like 'Asking the Children to be the Parents'

CNN correspondent Carol Costello aired a fair report on Friday’s American Morning about the several states which passed resolutions that asserted their rights under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and asked for viewer responses on the issue, but later stated that her “favorite [viewer] comment so far...‘asking for states’ rights is asking, you know, the children to be the parents’” [audio clips from the report are available here].

Costello began her report,  which aired just before the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour, with the question, “should states’ rights trump the fed?” She also highlighted the premise that “the concept of states’ rights is as old as America.”

The CNN correspondent used three sound bites from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech to a tea party in April 2009, which was widely circulated around the Internet. She also featured clips from an Republican state legislator from Oklahoma and a constitutional law professor.

JOHN ROBERTS: President Obama has made overhauling the nation’s health care system his top domestic priority.

CAROL COSTELLO: Oh, but the prospect of paying for a massive new health care plan is stoking anger among some states’ rights advocates. They think the government is already way too big, and now they’re pushing back. ‘Just Sayin’’ -should states’ rights trump the fed?

COSTELLO (voice-over): The concept of states’ rights is as old as America. But lately, it’s become a red hot issue.

TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: States’ rights- states’ rights- states’ rights.

COSTELLO: Texas Governor Rick Perry takes them very seriously.

PERRY: Those states’ rights that are enshrined in the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

COSTELLO: In other words, Perry says, if you don’t like Washington spending your money, tell it to butt out. It’s a notion that’s catching on.

FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: Alaska will lead-

COSTELLO: As Sarah Palin left office, she signed a resolution asserting Alaska’s right to govern itself. It has become one of seven states passing Tenth Amendment resolutions this year. More than 20 others are now considering them- a way to tell Uncle Sam, one size doesn’t fit all.

Carol Costello, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgCOSTELLO (on-camera): Just sayin’-

COSTELLO (voice-over): Should states’ rights trump the fed?

CHARLES KEY, OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE: Absolutely- I mean, it’s part of our Constitution.

COSTELLO: As in the Tenth Amendment. It says, ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’ What are those powers? Take a trip to the Oklahoma State House and ask Republican lawmaker Charles Key.

KEY: There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government has the legal right and authority to tell the people in the various states how to educate their children.

COSTELLO: That’s why President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ mandate left him cold, as does President Obama’s stimulus package, and legislation that would give the federal government a much bigger role in health care. The debate is as old as the nation.

PROFESSOR DAVID LAW, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY AT ST. LOUIS: It has been going on since our country was born.

COSTELLO: Thomas Jefferson argued for strong states’ rights. But over the centuries, the federal government’s powers have grown because it has the money.

LAW: In real life, money comes with strings attached. Federal money is no exception.

PERRY: We didn’t like oppression then. We don’t like oppression now.

COSTELLO: Critics say Governor Perry found that out when he rejected $555 million in federal stimulus money to cover unemployment benefits because it had strings attached. But months later, he had to ask the federal government for a loan to cover unemployment costs.

COSTELLO (on-camera): So yes, federal money does come with strings. And you know, Texas will now have to pay that money back. If they had taken the stimulus money, they wouldn't have had to do that.

ROBERTS: Yeah.

COSTELLO: So that’s something to keep in mind. You know, they’re passing resolutions in these states and, of course, that’s not the same as a law. But the states just want to reassert their rights and tell the federal government- hey, in some instances, we just want you to butt out.
Two hours later, CNN replayed the correspondent’s report, and afterwards, anchor John Roberts and Costello, who was filling in for Kiran Chetry, briefly commented on the viewer response. As you might expect, the network’s many left-wing viewers responded negatively, and the substitute anchor gave one of the comments her seal of approval, thereby giving a possible hint of her opinion on the issue:
ROBERTS: Now, you would think- because states’ rights advocates are so strong in their opinions that the opinions- we’ve been asking for comments, right? Therefore, you would think that most people would be in favor of states’ rights, but it’s running, to a large degree, the opposite way.
COSTELLO: Oh, yeah. But my favorite comment so far- you know, ‘asking for states’ rights is asking, you know, the children to be the parents.’

ROBERTS: Right.

COSTELLO: It’s comparable to that.

ROBERTS: Somebody else wrote in and said, “We’re the United States, not the divided states.’
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center