CBS's Kroft Downplays Harry Reid's Responsibility For Senate Impasse; Hints GOP to Blame For Deadlock
On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS's Steve Kroft tried to paper over Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's role in fostering deadlock in the Senate. Kroft spotlighted Reid's "responsibility" for setting the body's agenda, but quickly added that the Nevada senator has "just as much of a responsibility as Senator McConnell - to make the system work and to do some things."
The correspondent also turned to Steven Smith, who hinted that the Republican minority in the Senate was to blame for the "deadlock" in Congress, despite Reid's Democratic majority not passing a budget in over 3 years: "If you're in the minority...you know that if you can slow down everything, the majority will have less time to get to its entire agenda....when the minority blocks a piece of legislation, who does the public blame? Is it the minority for its obstructionism, or is it the majority that just wasn't willing to compromise enough?" He failed to mention that Smith is a former fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution.
Kroft interviewed both Reid and McConnell, and wasted little time before blaming both Senate leaders: "You haven't worked together. You have lots of important things to consider. Why can't you get together and agree on what to do about these major issues? Why can't you come up with a compromise?" He then outlined that "truth be told, neither party's done much to resolve their differences and have used every parliamentary trick in the book to obstruct each other's agenda."
The CBS journalist continued that "under today's rules, any one of the Senate's one hundred members can stymie legislation or judicial and executive appointments by simply threatening to filibuster and placing a hold on the bill or the nominee. It then requires a super-majority of sixty votes to proceed and the Democrats have only fifty-three. The Democrats have retaliated by using the rules to block Republican amendments to their bills."
Later, Kroft played hardball with both senators over the impasse. He led with his question that downplayed Reid's part in creating the deadlock:
KROFT: Senator Reid, you are the majority leader in the Senate. You set the agenda for the Senate. You bear...just as much of a responsibility as Senator McConnell to make the system work and to do some things....One of the complaints - and it has been directed at both of you and both of your parties - is that it's all become about political gamesmanship. It's all become about winning. It's all become about embarrassing the other party and blaming them for the failures...of the institution....You don't think that people are upset about the fact that – that both of you can't get together and accomplish things?...I think that's one of the reasons right now why your ratings are so low. You disagree with that?
At no point did the correspondent bring up the Nevada Democrat's recent hyper-partisan attack on the GOP presidential candidate and resolution to block his agenda: "Mitt Romney's fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his 'severely conservative' agenda is laughable."
Kroft's clip of Professor Smith came near the end of the segment. He did follow it with a soundbite from Republican Senator Tom Coburn, who stated, "I tell people at home, 'You're lucky we're not in session. We can't hurt you.' We didn't create a whole bunch of new spending programs."
The transcript of Steve Kroft's interview of Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell from Sunday's 60 Minutes is available at MRC.org.