CBS Hypes 'Deep', 'Massive' Spending Cuts; Slants Toward Obama, Democrats

Wednesday's CBS This Morning played up the supposedly gargantuan cuts in government spending that would go into the effect if the sequester goes into effect on March 1. Charlie Rose trumpeted the "massive spending cuts" set to take effect, while Gayle King underlined that the "deep automatic spending cuts" were quickly approaching. But neither anchor pointed out that $85 billion in cuts come out of a $3.5 trillion federal budget.

Correspondent Bill Plante hyped the effect of the possible "massive layoffs" on the Washington, DC region. But he only included one soundbite from a Republican/conservative, while playing three clips from President Obama and second Democrat.

Rose previewed Plante's report with his "massive spending cuts" term. As he introduced the veteran journalist's report, the CBS anchor noted that "President Obama is warning Americans about across-the-board budget cuts soon to kick in. The President warns people will lose their jobs and services will be slashed." King then added her "deep automatic spending cuts" line.

Screen Cap From 20 February 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgPlante wasted little time before playing his two soundbites from Obama in close succession. He reported that "top administration officials tell CBS News the President will hit the road between now and the March 1 deadline to argue his case campaign-style for averting budget cuts." (when has Obama not argued his case "campaign-style"?) Photos of a tropical villa with a pool and sports cars flashed on the screen as the correspondent pointed out that the President "wants to close tax loopholes that mostly benefit the wealthy in order to get more revenue."

Later in the segment, Plante played his sole clip from a Republican/conservative politician, which came from Senator Rand Paul's response to Obama's State of the Union address earlier in February. He continued by spotlighting how "nearby local governments, home to federal workers and contractors, worry that massive layoffs would cripple their economies."

Near the end of the report, the journalist played a soundbite from Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Ike Leggett, but failed to identify him as a Democrat.

The full transcript of Bill Plante's report from Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: President Obama is warning Americans about across-the-board budget cuts soon to kick in. The President warns people will lose their jobs and services will be slashed.

GAYLE KING: We are now just nine days away from those deep automatic spending cuts.

Bill Plante, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 20 February 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgBill Plante is at the White House. Bill, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Countdown To Cuts: Some GOP Lawmakers Supporting Sequester"]

BILL PLANTE : Good morning, Gayle. Well, top Republican congressional leaders say it's the President's fault, and that they don't want these cuts to happen, even though some of their members do. The President says that he doesn't want the cuts to happen either. And today, he sits down with local TV reporters to – as a White House official put it – continue to turn up the pressure on Republicans to compromise.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from press conference): This is not an abstraction. People will lose their jobs.

PLANTE (voice-over): With just over a week until the cuts take effect, the President's placing the blame for the sequester squarely at the doorstep of Republicans in Congress.

OBAMA: The last thing our families can afford right now is pain imposed unnecessarily by partisan recklessness and ideological rigidity here in Washington.

PLANTE: Top administration officials tell CBS News the President will hit the road between now and the March 1 deadline to argue his case campaign-style for averting budget cuts. He wants to close tax loopholes that mostly benefit the wealthy in order to get more revenue.

If the sequester takes effect, it will mean $1.2 trillion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts, including $46 billion of the military's budget for this year. Republicans continue to insist that if that happens, it's the President's fault, not theirs. In response to Mr. Obama's remarks Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner said, 'The President offered no credible plan that can pass Congress – only more calls for higher taxes.' But within Boehner's own party, there is disagreement on whether the sequester is a danger or a silver lining.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R), KENTUCKY: Not only should the sequester stand – many pundits say the sequester's far short – that we need $4 trillion in cuts.

PLANTE: And as Washington argues over whose fault the cuts will be if they happen, nearby local governments, home to federal workers and contractors, worry that massive layoffs would cripple their economies.


IKE LEGGETT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY [MARYLAND] EXECUTIVE (from press conference): We don't need to wait to see the white in the eyes to start responding because of the potential that we see. This challenge is real, and real right now.

PLANTE (on-camera): Well, with the deadline still nine days away, there's still a lot of posturing, and there's no sign that anyone's trying to make a deal. Administration officials tell us that there are no secret talks or negotiations under way. The reason for that, of course: the Obama administration thinks it's winning this debate, and that public pressure will force Republicans to give in. Charlie, Gayle?

ROSE: Bill Plante, thanks.

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