Nancy Cordes couldn't have made outgoing Senator Jim DeMint's conservative credentials clearer on Friday's CBS This Morning, labeling the South Carolina Republican "one of the most conservative members of the Senate." Cordes outlined that DeMint was a "Tea Party hero, who has raised more than $15 million...to help elect Tea Party senators...But he has also backed a series of losing far-right candidates."
However, the correspondent couldn't be bothered to identify Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert as a liberal, as she noted the comedian's efforts to get his fans to lobby South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to name him DeMint's replacement. She merely pointed out Colbert's persona as "one of the most conservative TV personalities out there - fake personalities, anyway." [audio clips available here; video below the jump]
Co-anchor Gayle King referred to the new Heritage Foundation president as "the Tea Party's favorite senator" as the CBS morning newscast teased Cordes's report. Almost 50 minutes later, the journalist led the segment with her "most conservative" label of DeMint, and accented this label by pointing out how the politician "likes to say that the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets."
Cordes also readily provided an ideological label for another South Carolina Republican during in her report: "The state's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, must choose a successor to fill out his term. Sources say DeMint prefers Tim Scott, a first-term conservative congressman from South Carolina - one of only two African-American Republicans in the House." She used her "far right" term moments later as she noted how DeMint supported the Senate candidacies of Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle in 2010.
It should be pointed out that CBS doesn't give superlative ideological labels to figures on the equivalent end of the liberal part of the spectrum as readily as Cordes did to Senator DeMint, O'Donnell, and Angle. According to a Nexis search, the last time a correspondent for the network used the term "far left" was on the January 5, 2012 edition of The Early Show - the previous version of the morning newscast.
JIM AXELROD (to Senator John McCain): ...Let me ask you to explain something about your – your friend, Governor Romney, because the other thing you said that – that struck me - Governor Romney has taken two positions on every issue, at least to his record as governor was far left. Has your opinion on that changed?
Note that Axelrod was apparently quoting McCain and not using the "far left" label on his own.
Colbert's liberalism isn't a Comedy Central trade secret either. Just a week earlier, CBS This Morning promoted the comedian's attack on a proposed gun dorm at the University of Colorado. In August 2012, the left-leaning TV personality targeted Papa John CEO John Schnatter for daring to speak out against ObamaCare.
The full transcript of Nancy Cordes's report on Friday's CBS This Morning:
NORAH O'DONNELL: The great state of South Carolina is facing an unexpected Senate race. Republican Senator Jim DeMint surprised everyone on Capitol Hill yesterday when he announced his resignation. Now, one very familiar face is saying he may want the job.
Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill. Nancy, good morning.
[CBS News Graphic: "Colbert And Congress: Will Comedian Trade Anchor Chair For Senate Seat?"]
NANCY CORDES: Good morning to you, Norah. Well, Jim DeMint is one of the most conservative members of the Senate. He likes to say that the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. Well, now one of the most conservative TV personalities out there - fake personalities, anyway - is vying for his job.
CORDES (voice-over) Who will replace Jim DeMint? That's Washington's new guessing game, after the South Carolina senator announced he's resigning next month in the middle of his second term.
DEMINT: This is a good time to leave - in effect, because I am – have term-limited myself. I never intended to be a – a career politician.
CORDES: Now, the state's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, must choose a successor to fill out his term. Sources say DeMint prefers Tim Scott, a first-term conservative congressman from South Carolina - one of only two African-American Republicans in the House. But another contender emerged last night.
COLBERT: Take to the Twitters. I want to you to Tweet - @nikkihaley - why she should appoint me to the U.S. Senate with the hash tag 'SenatorColbert'. (audience cheers and applauds)
CORDES: Comedian Stephen Colbert grew up in South Carolina, and has joked about running for office there before.
COLBERT (from January 12, 2012 edition of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report"): I'm doing it! (audience cheers and applauds) Drop 'em, Jimmy!
COLBERT: Within hours of DeMint's announcement, fans had set up a Colbert for Senate website and established a Twitter account - @ColbertforSC.
COLBERT: That's right! South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint is de-quitting. (audience laughs)
CORDES: DeMint is a Tea Party hero, who has raised more than $15 million over the past four years to help elect Tea Party senators, like Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah. But he has also backed a series of losing far-right candidates, who were not the first choice of party leaders - such as Delaware's Christine O'Donnell and Nevada's Sharron Angle, who was defeated by Senate leader Harry Reid in 2010.
As for DeMint's replacement, Colbert says the choice is clear.
COLBERT: Let's see: you want somebody young, somebody conservative, somebody from South Carolina - maybe somebody who had a super PAC. Wait a second! (audience cheers and applauds)
CORDES (on-camera): Now, the governor has not indicated whether she favors Colbert or anyone else. She might not make her decision for another month or so. But if by some small chance he is not selected, Norah and Charlie, he could still run for the seat outright, when both of South Carolina Senate seats are up for grabs in 2014.
O'DONNELL: All right, Nancy Cordes – I'm not going to hold my breath on that one, but thank you.