CBS on 'Plunder-Woman' Margaret Thatcher: 'Contentious'; 'Reviled and Revered'; 'Bullying Style'

Monday's CBS This Morning played up the domestic critics of Margaret Thatcher as they covered the breaking news of her death. Mark Phillips, reporting from London, spotlighted how Thatcher was once called "Plunder-woman" by a British union leader, and how she was "contentious here, famous for breaking the back of the very strong labor movement in Britain." Phillips also noted how the former prime minister was "a figure both reviled and revered."

During a retrospective on the "Iron Lady", correspondent Elizabeth Palmer ballyhooed how Thatcher's "trademark helmet hair, cut-glass accent, and bullying style became a staple of British satire".

Margaret Thatcher, Former British Prime Minister; Screen Cap From 8 April 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | MRC.orgPalmer led the segment by pointing out how "Margaret Thatcher's passionate admirers and her fervent critics all agreed on one thing: she was tough." Moments later, the CBS journalist's emphasized the British politician's apparent "bullying style" with a clip of a puppet version of the former prime minister crying, "Wake up you blithering idiot!" as it slapped another puppet. Towards the end of her report, Palmer bizarrely labeled Thatcher an "unlikely commander-in-chief...[who] led British forces to victory in the Falklands War against Argentina."

Almost a half hour later, the CBS morning newscast turned to Phillips, who wasted little time before using his "reviled and revered" label of Thatcher. He cited the decades-old "Plunder-woman" insult near the end of his report:

MARK PHILLIPS: ...Margaret Thatcher – Baroness Thatcher, as she was at the time of her death, was 87 years old. She had been out of public view for some time. She was suffering from dementia. She had had a series of strokes, and the family announced this morning that it was a stroke, in the end, that killed her. She was a figure both reviled and revered, but the tributes that are coming into her speak very fondly and with great respect of the time that she had spent as the leader of Great Britain, of course, from 1979 until 1990.

Mark Phillips, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 8 April 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgThe Queen issued a statement this morning, saying she was 'sad to hear of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family', the palace announced. The current prime minister, David Cameron, issued a statement. He was traveling in Europe. He said, "It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher's death. We lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.' Tributes flowing in even from the U.S. as well. John McCain – of course, the former candidate for president and a Republican, saying that Margaret Thatcher was one of the great leaders of the 20th Century. She had been called the 'Iron Lady', we recall, from – by President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union.

She was a figure who was both contentious here; famous for breaking the back of the very strong labor movement in Britain; called 'Plunder-woman' by, in fact, a labor – labor leader here at the time. But the tributes are flowing in. There will, undoubtedly, be a great state funeral for a woman who was not just a leader of the right in Britain, but a champion of the cause of conservativism both throughout the rest of the world; and, of course, a great colleague of Ronald Reagan as well.

The CBS correspondent didn't use such terminology when he broke the news of Thatcher's death, just moments before Palmer's retrospect. But he misleadingly stated that the former British prime minister was "part of the great conservative movement here and in America during '90s", mere moments after noting that "she was the prime minister of Britain, of course, from 1979 until 1990."


ABC and NBC gave similarly biased reporting on their morning shows. Fill-in host Elizabeth Vargas underlined on Good Morning America that Thatcher was "both adored and vilified even to this day in Great Britain – a very controversial, but very, very important figure, undoubtedly." NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher hyped on Today that the deceased politician was "both loved and loathed....determined, dynamic, and deeply controversial."

The full transcript of correspondent Elizabeth Palmer's report from Monday's CBS This Morning is available at MRC.org.

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