CBS Highlights Kerry's Debate Prep Help for Obama; Omits He Lost '04 Election

Talk about missing the elephant (or is it donkey?) in the room – on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes reported that Senator John Kerry is "playing Mitt Romney in mock debates" with President Obama before Wednesday's debate. But she didn't once mention that Kerry's debate skills didn't help him in 2004, when he lost a presidential race to President George W. Bush.

Cordes did note that "Romney and...Kerry know each other well. They're both longtime politicians from Massachusetts." She also twice emphasized that Obama's campaign was "working hard...to try to lower expectations about his performance" during the upcoming presidential debates.

Nancy Cordes, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgDuring her short report, the correspondent also forwarded the President's surrogates' talking point that "Governor Romney has had a lot more time to prepare for these debates than the President - though we don't know exactly how much more time, because the campaign doesn't like to tell us how much time the President spends practicing. They want us to think that he doesn't spend very much time at all."

Obviously, that detail was more important to put out on the airwaves than an apparently minor point about John Kerry's past failure at the ballot box.

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The full transcript of Nancy Cordes's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: President Obama is preparing in Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, and he made a surprise visit Monday to a local campaign office, and called several volunteers on the phone. He told one supporter the debate practice is fun, but also tedious.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Basically, they're keeping me indoors all the time. It's a drag. (audience laughs) I – they're making me do my homework.

O'DONNELL: Nancy Cordes is in Henderson covering the Obama campaign. Nancy, good morning.


[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Obama Preps For Debate In Vegas"]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Norah. Well, as the President does his homework here, his campaign has been working hard itself to try to lower expectations about his performance - so much so that they actually had the White House press corps chuckling yesterday as they tried to argue that his tendency to answer questions in a substantive and detailed manner might actually be a liability in this debate, where candidates are expected to be pithy and succinct. They also like to point out that Governor Romney has had a lot more time to prepare for these debates than the President - though we don't know exactly how much more time, because the campaign doesn't like to tell us how much time the President spends practicing. They want us to think that he doesn't spend very much time at all.

What we do know is that he is holed up at a Westin hotel, outside Las Vegas, with his top advisers, and with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who is playing Mitt Romney in mock debates. Mitt Romney and John Kerry know each other well. They're both longtime politicians from Massachusetts, so Kerry knows Romney's politics. And the reason, of course, that the Obama campaign is working so hard to tamp down expectations, Norah and Charlie, is that they like the trajectory of the race right now. They don't want to do anything to change it.

O'DONNELL: No doubt – Nancy Cordes, thank you.

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