CBS's Rose Tosses Axelrod Softballs, Lets Him Defend ObamaCare, Attack GOP

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose rolled over and deferred to chief Obama flack David Axelrod and his talking points defending the President's Monday rant against the Supreme Court and its deliberation on his health care law, along with its attacks on Mitt Romney. Rose tossed softball questions at Axelrod, such as, "Tell me what he [Obama] is saying when he talks about judicial activism."

The anchor even boosted Hillary Clinton as a possible 2016 presidential candidate for Democrats during his interview with the Obama aide: "[Nancy Pelosi] said her candidate is Hillary Clinton. She hopes Hillary Clinton will run....Do you expect that she'll be a nominee in- will be a candidate for president in 2016?" [audio available here; video clips below the jump]

Rose led the segment with his question about the President's Supreme Court remark, which was the only mention of the comments during the morning newscast: "The President today had a message for the Supreme Court yesterday. Tell me what he is saying when he talks about judicial activism, and if he is trying to send a message to the Court as it considers this case."

Unsurprisingly, Axelrod spun his boss's attack on a co-equal branch of the federal government and tried to sell the supposed benefits of ObamaCare:


AXELROD: I don't think he's trying to send a message, Charlie. I think he was answering a question about what- his reaction to last week's proceedings. The President believes that the Supreme Court will affirm the law because it's- in keeping with their precedent not to overturn a law that Congress passed of this magnitude, certainly on a five–to-four sort of vote. So he was just expressing his opinion on that, but the bigger issue and the one the President addressed is what the ramifications of such a decision would be, in terms of the lives of millions of Americans who already are enjoying the benefits of that program- two and a half million young people who are on their parents' insurance up until the age of 26; tens of millions are getting preventive care free as part of their insurance coverage now because of this law; people who don't face lifetime caps on their insurance when they get seriously ill; seniors who are getting more help with prescription drugs. All of that is also in jeopardy here, and the President spoke to the human dimension of this.

The CBS journalist followed up by noting Vice President Biden's recent attack on Romney as being "out of touch," and let his guest piggyback on it. Co-anchor Erica Hill also raised the former Massachusetts governor's charge against the President on the rise in the number of poor single mothers and merely asked Axelrod to "respond" to it.

Charlie Rose, CBS Anchor; & David Axelrod, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser | NewsBusters.orgROSE: ...[O]n Sunday...the Vice President, Joe Biden, consistently said in- a number of times, that Mitt Romney is out of touch. Now, if Romney is the nominee, is that going to be the mantra of the campaign by President Obama?

AXELROD: I think it's going to be the concern of the American people. Look, you have a guy who wants go back to the same policies that got us into this disaster. He wants to cut taxes for the very wealthy, cut Wall Street loose to write its own rules, and he thinks that this, somehow, is going to produce prosperity- broad prosperity for Americans. We've tested that- it's failed- and in his basic orientation toward these economic issues, he seems to be oblivious to the experiences of everyday people. He says we should just let the housing market bottom out; we should have let Wall Street go bankrupt; and so on....

ERICA HILL: He [Romney] is speaking out, though, more strongly, and...he said he believes the President is to blame for the number of single mothers living in poverty. How do you respond to that?

AXELROD: Well, I think it's- you know, I think the American people will respond to that as it deserves. I mean, the notion that he's going to heap the entire responsibility for the collapse of the economy in 2008 on the President is ludicrous. We're working through problems that were developed over a period of years. It's going to take time to get through them, but we're making progress, and the last thing we want to do is go back to the very policies that got us into this jam in the first place...Romney seems to look at the world through the rear-view mirror. I mean, he wants go back to the policies of the last decade on economic policies, and on other stuff- I mean, he says Russia is our greatest foe; he thinks employers ought to be able to decide whether women can get contraceptive coverage...He thinks if we just drill for more oil, that will solve our energy problems- no higher fuel efficiency standards, no renewables. You know, I think he must watch 'Mad Men' and think it's the evening news. He's just in a time warp.

As Axelrod made his "time warp" attack on Romney, an on-screen graphic played up a USA Today/Gallup poll that indicates that Obama's lead over the Republican among women under the age 50 has widened between February and March.

Unlike his recent tough interviews with Republicans Tom Coburn and Haley Barbour, the CBS anchor has been deferential to his liberal guests. On March 29, 2012, Rose let NYC Mayor Bloomberg lobby for stricter gun control. On February 23, he tossed softballs at Axelrod's campaign colleague Robert Gibbs. Earlier that month, the journalist touted a CBS poll that apparently found that 61% of Catholics approve "President Obama's contraception policy." Gibbs appeared after the last GOP presidential debate, and Tuesday's interview with Axelrod came on the same day as Republican primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C. Both times, the CBS program let the Obama campaign officials speak without any rebuttal from the other side.

The full transcript of Charlie Rose and Erica Hill's interview of David Axelrod, which aired 8 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Tuesday's CBS This Morning, is available at MRC.org.

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