CBS’s Dickerson Flogs White House Narrative That Republicans Must Agree to More Tax Increases

Sometimes the media will engage in selective amnesia, pretending to forget about a past occurrence because the memory of it would hurt the liberal narrative they are trying to advance. That was clearly the case on this Saturday’s CBS This Morning.

The network’s political director, John Dickerson, was on to discuss President Obama’s forthcoming budget proposal, which is expected to include some cuts to the growth rate of Social Security. Unsurprisingly, Dickerson spoke entirely from the president’s point of view, essentially relaying the White House message to congressional Republicans, the crux of which was: “[Obama]’s also trying to create some public pressure on Republicans, saying look, I've offered something on my end, now you have to offer something, which in this case means some agreement to some level of tax increases.


At this point, a respectable journalist might point out that Republicans have already given a ton of ground on tax increases. As part of last December’s fiscal cliff deal, congressional Republicans agreed to raise marginal income tax rates on the top-earning Americans from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The deal also ended up raising the payroll tax, death tax, and capital gains and dividends taxes. But Dickerson failed to mention any of this, apparently content to feed a White House that is addicted to taxes and spending.

Co-anchor Anthony Mason did give Dickerson a chance to present the Republican viewpoint by asking, “So John, how are Republicans responding to that offer at this point?” But instead of giving the Republican response, Dickerson relayed the Obama White House interpretation of the Republican response:



"Well, the White House says, basically, they’re moving the goalpost. They’re saying, ‘OK, we'll take what you’ve offered now and we're not going to give anything in return. If you think these cuts in entitlements, Mr. President, are a good idea, then let's go ahead and enact them. Don't ask for anything else in return.’ Well, that’s not really the way it works."


Moving the goalpost, huh? That sounds a lot like what President Obama is doing now by demanding further tax increases from Republicans. That’s not really the way compromise works, Mr. Dickerson.

The CBS political director trotted out the president’s message a third time when discussing Obama’s dinner negotiations with Republican senators. Said Dickerson, “He's trying to say to them, look, I'm working in good faith. I am offering these things that you said you wanted. Now you come my way a little bit.”

Again, this was not followed by any mention of the Republican perspective. Dickerson’s entire report was nothing more than a vehicle to advance White House talking points regarding the budget deficit. CBS is creeping into the territory of state-run media. Look out, MSNBC, they're muscling in on your turf!

Below is a transcript of the segment:

NANCY CORDES: President Obama has a busy week ahead. On Monday he travels to Connecticut to talk gun control and on Wednesday he'll send to Capitol hill a proposed budget expected to include some cuts in the future growth of Social Security. It's another bid for fiscal compromise, but is there any chance Republicans will respond? Let's ask CBS News political director John Dickerson who joins us from our Washington bureau. Good morning, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Nancy.



CORDES: So the president really had no choice here, right? He had to kind of put his cards on the table. This is one of his biggest negotiating ploys is this change in Social Security but if he didn't include it in his budget he was going to add to the deficit and he knew he'd get hammered by Republicans.

DICKERSON: Right. And it's interesting to watch the tactical move the president is making here. First we should note this is the budget process as it's actually supposed to go forward. People probably have gotten used to these kind of crisis budget negotiations we’ve had over the last couple of years. This is the regular way it goes. And what the president's team decided is that these offers that he had made to cut entitlements which he made in private with Republicans trying to make a deal, saying I will agree to cut entitlements if you'll agree to some tax increases, now he's making those promises in public. Why is he doing that? Well, he’s trying to show Republicans that he in fact -- he's offering some good faith saying, look, I'm going to say this publicly, so they’re for real. But he’s also trying to create some public pressure on Republicans, saying look, I've offered something on my end, now you have to offer something, which in this case means some agreement to some level of tax increases.

ANTHONY MASON: So John, how are Republicans responding to that offer at this point?

DICKERSON: Well, the White House says basically they’re moving the goalpost. They’re saying, ‘OK, we'll take what you’ve offered now and we're not going to give anything in return. If you think these cuts in entitlements, Mr. President, are a good idea, then let's go ahead and enact them. Don't ask for anything else in return.’ Well, that's not really the way it works. Really, the thing to watch here is the president’s negotiations with Republican senators, those ones he’s been having dinner with. He’s having another one with – dinner with some Republicans next week. He's trying to say to them, look, I'm working in good faith. I am offering these things that you said you wanted. Now you come my way a little bit. If he can make a deal with Republican senators, they hope that he can convince other Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.