CBS Chides Rubio for Attacking Trump; Candidates Were ‘Kids Out Behind the Barn’

Pretending to show compassion and interest in the future of conservatism and the Republican Party, Friday’s CBS Evening News and anchor Scott Pelley lectured Marco Rubio for triggering “a crippling civil war” by attacking Donald Trump in Thursday’s debate that “reached lows that many Republicans would say are beneath the dignity of the office that the candidates are seeking.”

Further, the newscast portrayed the five remaining candidates as “kids out behind the barn” playing “instead of a political debate” while praising Trump for his “impeccably timed bombshell” endorsement from Republican Governor Chris Christie (N.J.).

Pelley kicked off the show’s lead tease with a declaration that the GOP race had “deterioate[d]” and followed with a soundbite of Rubio from CBS This Morning ruling that “Donald Trump is a con artist.” 

Of course, readers of NewsBusters may recall that the network morning newscasts previously encouraged Rubio to criticize Trump. Now that he has, the networks have done a complete 180 and decided that such a strategy was both unprofessional and damaging the party. 

Pelley circled back to this story after the opening credits and sounded the alarm that the heated debate in Houston nearly 24 hours beforehand would be remembered as a day that cemented the downfall of the right:

This may go down as the week the party of Lincoln devolved into a crippling civil war of the own. There was nothing grand in the old party's debate last night. Name calling, mocking, attempts at humiliation reached lows that many Republicans would say are beneath the dignity of the office that the candidates are seeking. 

While his network CBS have banded with ABC and NBC to offer exhaustive coverage of Trump’s every move, Pelley continued the full-court press against Trump’s opponents by mocking attacks from Rubio and Ted Cruz as having “reflected desperation, as time runs short before next week's Super Tuesday, which is likely the last chance to catch Donald Trump.”

Following an even-keeled segment from correspondent Major Garrett, Pelley welcomed former Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer on to further bemoan how he “thought things couldn't get lower than they'd already reached in this campaign” but Thursday “went even below where I thought it could possibly go.” 

“I mean, no discussion of the issues, but people arguing, screaming, hollering. It was like kids out behind the barn rather than a political debate,” Schieffer added.

Pelley jumped in to note the Republican National Committee’s post-2012 election autopsy about the party needing to reach out to minorities and hinted that the party’s failed to do that thus far in 2016. 

Schieffer pointed out how “a lot of traditional Republicans” are turned off by Trump but suggested that the damage has already been done as Trump arguably has been “building a wall around the Republican Party, making it impossible for the party now to reach out and to try to broaden its base.” 

The long-time CBS News personality highlighted how Trump has falsely claimed to have the nationwide backing of Hispanics but then closed by tying Trump to the entire party and larger conservative movement by drawing another border wall analogy: “I think this is the problem that is really bothering Republicans now. I've got to tell you, Scott. If they try to run a campaign that appeals only to people who look like me, that is going to be a very tall wall to climb.” 

 

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on February 26 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
February 26, 2016
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

SCOTT PELLEY: The campaign deteriorates. 

REPUBLICAN SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (Fl.): Donald Trump is a con artist. 

PELLEY: And the front-runner get an endorsement no one saw coming.

(....)

6:30 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Free for All]

PELLEY: This may go down as the week the party of Lincoln devolved into a crippling civil war of the own. There was nothing grand in the old party's debate last night. Name calling, mocking, attempts at humiliation reached lows that many Republicans would say are beneath the dignity of the office that the candidates are seeking. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Surprise Endorsement]

Maybe it reflected desperation, as time runs short before next week's Super Tuesday, which is likely the last chance to catch Donald Trump. Today, the race was jolted by an impeccably timed bombshell when Trump's campaign was validated by one of the last people you might have expected. 

(....)

6:34 p.m. Eastern

PELLEY: Bob Schieffer has been watching all of this play out today, and he's joining us right now. Bob. 

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Scott, I must tell you, I thought things couldn't get lower than they'd already reached in this campaign. I mean, the political discourse, but last night, it went even below where I thought it could possibly go. I mean, no discussion of the issues, but people arguing, screaming, hollering. It was like kids out behind the barn rather than a political debate and then, as he always does, Donald Trump has this tremendous ability to change the subject. He rolls out Chris Christie today and suddenly, that debate seems like it was years ago. We're talking about Chris Christie. 

PELLEY: After 2012, Bob, the Republican Party realized it needed to reach out to a much broader electorate, including Hispanics and African Americans. What happened to that effort? 

SCHIEFFER: Well, I'll tell you, that is what is bothering a lot of traditional Republicans. Donald Trump gets big applause when he talks about building that wall along the border with Mexico, but what some Republicans are beginning to wonder is, is he really building a wall around the Republican Party, making it impossible for the party now to reach out and to try to broaden its base. Hispanics are the largest growing segment of our society, and Trump seems to be trying to run them off with all of this talk. He says that Hispanics love him, but the polls don't back this up and I think — I think this is the problem that is really bothering Republicans now. I've got to tell you, Scott. If they try to run a campaign that appeals only to people who look like me, that is going to be a very tall wall to climb. 

PELLEY: Bob Schieffer, on the campaign trail with us for 2016. Bob, thanks so much. 

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Scott. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center