CBS's Mason Likens GOP Leadership to Soviet Dictator

On CBS's Sunday Morning, CBS's Anthony Mason bizarrely compared top Republicans to Soviet autocrats during an interview of President Obama.  After claiming that there was a "Cold War chill" between the two parties in Washington, Mason asked Obama, "Margaret Thatcher famously said when Gorbachev took power in Russia, 'I can do business with this man.' Can you do business with the Republican leadership?" [audio clip available here; video can be downloaded here]

The journalist asked mostly softball questions in the excerpts of the interview shown during the lead segment of the 9 am Eastern hour program. He first asked about the Democrat about his new armored bus: "How do you like your new bus?" The correspondent followed up by stating that the vehicle had a "slightly Darth Vader quality to it."

Mason did reference the President's dwindling approval rating a bit later in the segment: "This past week, your popularity hit a record low. What does that say to you?" Just before this, the correspondent highlighted the "scary summer for a lot of people because the...economy's struggling" and asked, "Should Congress be back in Washington? Should you be going on vacation?"

The CBS correspondent's likening of the GOP to a Soviet premier came towards the end of the interview:

Anthony Mason, CBS News Correspondent; & President Barack Obama | NewsBusters.orgMASON (voice-over): The President will propose a new jobs and economic growth package after Labor Day. But with the 2012 presidential campaign already underway, is anyone going to want to play, 'let's make a deal'? The bad blood between Democrats and Republicans seems to have enshrouded the capital in a kind of Cold War chill.

MASON (on-camera): Margaret Thatcher famously said when Gorbachev took power in Russia, 'I can do business with this man.' Can you do business with the Republican leadership?

OBAMA: Oh, I absolutely can do business with them. The issue's not going to be whether I can do business with John Boehner. The issue is if John Boehner and I are able to come to an agreement, can he sell it among his fellow Republicans inside the House of Representatives? So far, at least, that's proven to be difficult.
    
MASON: Have you spoken to him since that deal fell through?

OBAMA: I did speak to him. Obviously, we had to get at least a deal done to avoid default, which we did. But that's not good enough.

MASON: Was that relationship damaged because of the failure of that to work?

OBAMA: You know, I think it raises questions, as I said, as to whether the Speaker is able to move his caucus to take tough decisions.

Mason closed out the segment with another softball set of questions, asking the chief executive, "Has Washington turned out to be more of a contact sport than you thought it was going to be?" When the President stated that "I think you've gotta have a pretty thick skin to be a president of the United States"and compared himself to Jefferson and Lincoln and "pretty good presidents," the journalist replied, "Is your skin as thick as you thought it would be?"

CBS has a history of going easy on Mr. Obama. Former anchor Katie Couric poured on the sympathy for the Democrat during a July 2009 interview: "You're so confident, Mr. President, and so focused. Is your confidence ever shaken? Do you ever wake up and say, 'Damn, this is hard. Damn, I'm not going to get the things done I want to get done and it's just too politicized to really get accomplished the big things I want to accomplish'?"

The transcript of Anthony Mason's questions to President Barack Obama from his interview on CBS's Sunday Morning, including some of the President's answers for context:

ANTHONY MASON: How do you like your new bus?

MASON: It has a slightly Darth Vader quality to it.


MASON: This has been a scary summer for a lot of people-

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Absolutely.

MASON: Because the stock market, economy's struggling-

OBAMA: Right.

MASON: Should Congress be back in Washington? Should you be going on vacation?


MASON: This past week, your popularity hit a record low. What does that say to you?


MASON: Do you think we're in danger of another recession?

OBAMA: I don't think we're in danger of another recession, but we are in danger of not having a recovery that's fast enough to deal with what is a genuine unemployment crisis for a whole lot of folks out there-

MASON: Well, it seems-

OBAMA: And that's why we need to be doing more.

MASON: We have that already though, don't we? I mean, it seems to me the- I mean, the concern last week and the week before was that the market was saying we were closer to it than we thought, and that, in fact, the markets themselves might cause consumers to pull back and tip us into a recession.


MASON: People look at Washington and they think it's broken, to the point of being irreparable. Do you think the damage to the process is irreparable?



MASON (voice-over): The President will propose a new jobs and economic growth package after Labor Day. But with the 2012 presidential campaign already underway, is anyone going to want to play, 'let's make a deal'? The bad blood between Democrats and Republicans seems to have enshrouded the capital in a kind of Cold War chill.

MASON (on-camera): Margaret Thatcher famously said when Gorbachev took power in Russia, 'I can do business with this man.' Can you do business with the Republican leadership?

OBAMA: Oh, I absolutely can do business with them. The issue's not going to be whether I can do business with John Boehner. The issue is if John Boehner and I are able to come to an agreement, can he sell it among his fellow Republicans inside the House of Representatives? So far, at least, that's proven to be difficult.

MASON: Have you spoken to him since that deal fell through?


OBAMA: I did speak to him. Obviously, we had to get at least a deal done to avoid default, which we did. But that's not good enough.

MASON: Was that relationship damaged because of the failure of that to work?

OBAMA: You know, I think it raises questions, as I said, as to whether the Speaker is able to move his caucus to take tough decisions.


MASON: I'm looking at this football game behind you. Has Washington turned out to be more of a contact sport than you thought it was going to be?

OBAMA: You know, I think you've gotta have a pretty thick skin to be a president of the United States. And. you know, out of necessity, I read a lot of history these days, and, you know, when you see what they said about Jefferson, what they said about Lincoln, what they said about some pretty good presidents, it makes you feel a little bit better.

MASON: Is your skin as thick as you thought it would be?

OBAMA: Thicker. (Mason laughs)

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center