CBS Hypes 'Huge Bipartisan Victory', 'Milestone' with Fiscal Cliff Bill's Passage

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted the passage of Senate Democrats' temporary fiscal cliff fix by the House as a "big bipartisan victory", immediately after pointing out that "the votes were about two-to-one Democratic in favor of the bill." Cordes also hyped how the bill is "a milestone, finally settling a decade-long debate over the Bush-era tax cuts," despite the fact the bill raises tax rates on top earners.

The correspondent also likened Congress to a teenaged student: "Well, if this was high school, you'd say they turned in the assignment a little bit late. It was kind of a rush job, but at least they got it done."

Fill-in anchor Anthony Mason outlined these new tax hikes in his lead-in for the correspondent's report, and continued by pointing out that "the bill also extends long-term jobless benefits for a year, and puts any significant spending cuts on hold until later in 2013."

Later in the segment, the CBS journalist underlined her "milestone" term with a soundbite from ultra-liberal congresswoman from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi:

Nancy Cordes, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 2 January 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgNANCY CORDES (voice-over): With that vote, the long, contentious effort to prevent a middle-class tax hike came to an end Tuesday, though few on either side felt like celebrating....Still, the bill is a milestone, finally settling a decade-long debate over the Bush-era tax cuts.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER (from speech on the House floor): Permanent tax relief for the middle class, for more than 98 percent of American taxpayers, more than 97 percent of America's small businesses.

Cordes concluded her report by noting how "this bill really doesn't address...those across-the-board indiscriminate spending cuts to both defense and non-defense agencies. The bill just pushes off those cuts for two months, so you're going to see Congress and the White House fighting right away about how to replace the sequester with more sensible cuts once and for all."

The CBS morning show then turned to Major Garrett for the White House reaction to the bill's passage. The former Fox News journalist again acted as an Obama administration stenographer, just as he has done on several occasions since he became the network's chief White House correspondent:


ANTHONY MASON: Major, just to start with, what was the reaction from the White House once this deal finally passed?

MAJOR GARRETT: ...I would say the three dominant words can be described as this: relief, a sense of triumph, and also, a sense of regret. Let me take those in order. There was genuine relief in this building...that this deal got passed, because there were hours of very profound anxiety here yesterday that the House would not pass it. Let me tell you: there really was not an alternative plan, if the House had amended this Senate bill and sent it back, or killed it entirely. So the President felt slightly powerless watching House Republicans sort it out. By about 6 o'clock last night, they began to feel that this was going to happen. So, relief is probably the dominant reaction.

Also, a sense of triumph about the resolving tax increase debate on his terms – largely on his terms - for the first time, getting Republicans in the Senate and the House to vote for higher income tax rates....And also, resolving this debate without touching entitlements in any significant way. That's what the triumph part is. The regret is, this is not a grand bargain, and, as Nancy Cordes, my colleague, just indicated, there are more fight to come, and they're coming pretty soon.

NORAH O'DONNELL: You know, Major, the President did stand his ground to some degree and won out – I mean, no spending cuts and the extension of those tax cuts for the middle class. What do you think the White House learned from this whole episode?

Major Garrett, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 2 January 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgGARRETT: Well, first of all, that necessity is the mother of invention. This deal needed to get done, and everyone had to participate. And the other thing the President learned, is that things can change very quickly. For weeks and weeks and weeks, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, had nothing to do with the negotiations, or had any prospect at resolving this. Suddenly, he became the key player. Similarly, Vice President Biden stepped off the sidelines and became the number-one negotiator representing this White House with Mitch McConnell. The President learn that that combination can work in the future.

And also, yesterday, the White House gained new appreciation for Speaker [John] Boehner, because, though they have doubted him in the past, they saw that he was able to put this deal through last night and avoid the fiscal cliff both for him, Senate Democrats, and this White House.

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