CBS Trumpets 'Historic' Federal Marijuana Decision; Leaves Out Opponents

Friday's CBS This Morning ballyhooed the Justice Department's recent move to relax enforcement of laws against marijuana in the several states that have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug. Gayle King heralded the "historic new regulations", while Bill Whitaker failed to include talking heads who oppose this move by the Obama administration [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump].

By contrast, ABC and NBC's morning newscasts minimized their coverage of the story on Friday. ABC's Good Morning America granted a mere 17 seconds of air time to the federal government's decision, while devoting 25 seconds to the plight of two kittens that strayed onto subway tracks in New York City.

Besides her "historic" label, King pointed out in her lead in for the correspondent's report that "the new rules roll back 75 years of federal policy." Whitaker first outlined that "since voting to permit recreational use of marijuana last year, citizens of Washington and Colorado have been under a cloud of legal confusion. The two states call this activity legal. The federal government says it's illegal. Now, the Justice Department is trying to clear the air. The Department will no longer prosecute, as long as states follow eight strict guidelines."

The CBS journalist continued by playing three straight soundbites from supporters of the Justice Department's announcement – Brian Vincente of the organization Sensible Colorado; Democrat Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington; and Tom Angell of the group Marijuana Majority. Angell actually criticized the Obama White House from the left in his clip:

TOM ANGELL, "MARIJUANA MAJORITY": In 2009, they released a similar memo saying that they would respect state medical marijuana laws. But unfortunately, since that time, the Obama administration has overseen the closure of more state legal medical marijuana businesses than were closed during two terms of the Bush administration.

Whitaker concluded the segment by underlining that "supporters of legalization say this could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana."


CBS has boosted marijuana use in the past. Back in 2009, The Early Show (the previous name of the network's morning show) spotlighted a California mother who gave her autistic son medical marijuana.

The full transcript of Bill Whitaker's report from Friday's CBS This Morning is available on MRC.org.

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