During a Tuesday press conference at the White House, CBS's Bill Plante channeled his colleague Bob Schieffer's 2009 "open sore" pronouncement about Guantanamo Bay as he asked President Obama about an ongoing hunger strike among many of the detainees there. Plante hinted at sympathy for the prisoners as he wondered, "Is it any surprise, really, that they would prefer death rather than – have no end in sight to their confinement?"
The correspondent's leading question allowed the President to revisit the issue and call for the closure of the facility, just over three months after his administration closed the office tasked with shuttering the prison camp [audio available here; video below the jump]:
Does journalistic insistence on catapulting President Barack Obama into historic greatness and relevance know no bounds? CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Tuesday night insisted upon trumpeting Obama’s proposal, to spend $100 million to map the human brain, through the hagiographic maneuver of putting Obama into a trilogy with the triumphs of Thomas Jefferson and John Kennedy:
"Finally tonight, for Thomas Jefferson it was the Louisiana Territory; for John F. Kennedy, the moon. Well today, as Bill Plante reports, President Obama announced a mission to explore and map another frontier filled with mystery and possibility."
Thursday's CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning newscast to zero in on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's false assertion about the sequester – that "there are, literally, teachers now who are getting pink slips; who are getting notices they can't come back this fall". Correspondent Bill Plante noted that "Duncan conceded he knew of only one county nationwide where there had been notices", and underlined that "those notices weren't sequester-related."
CBS News political director John Dickerson also highlighted that "the Washington Post caught...Duncan in an exaggeration about those effects." Actually, "exaggeration" is an understatement on the part of Dickerson, as the Post's Glenn Kessler ripped the Cabinet official over several statements he's made on the sequester issue:
Bill Plante, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent, made a rather shocking statement Sunday about the Obama administration's media strategy.
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources, Plante said that to the extent the White House is able to "put out their own material" without the Washington press corps, "they're undercutting the First Amendment...it's state-run media" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Wednesday's CBS This Morning played up the supposedly gargantuan cuts in government spending that would go into the effect if the sequester goes into effect on March 1. Charlie Rose trumpeted the "massive spending cuts" set to take effect, while Gayle King underlined that the "deep automatic spending cuts" were quickly approaching. But neither anchor pointed out that $85 billion in cuts come out of a $3.5 trillion federal budget.
Correspondent Bill Plante hyped the effect of the possible "massive layoffs" on the Washington, DC region. But he only included one soundbite from a Republican/conservative, while playing three clips from President Obama and second Democrat.
The irony must have been lost on Bill Plante when he reported on Monday's CBS This Morning that President Obama "did golf with Tiger [Woods], but we didn't see a picture of it. They [the Obama administration] don't like to show a picture of the President at leisure doing anything. They see this as propaganda for the Republicans."
However, exactly two weeks earlier, on February 4, 2013, Plante acted as an Obama administration stenographer as he pointed out a photo released by the White House of the President "at leisure" – specifically, firing a shotgun. He also spotlighted menu choices for the chief executive's Super Bowl festivities:
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Bill Plante refreshingly spotlighted how firearms are used to protect the lives of ordinary Americans. Plante noted how the National Rifle Association "Tweeted a story...about Melinda Herman, a Georgia woman who shot an intruder in self-defense as she waited with her two children in a closet....She fired at the man multiple times with a .38 caliber handgun."
The two other Big Three morning shows failed to mention this story during their coverage of the current gun control debate. ABC's GMA actually minimized the air time they devoted to the issue. News anchor Dan Harris gave just one news brief to the next meeting of Vice President Joe Biden's gun violence task force:
The media agenda against guns is nothing new. But recent mass shootings have encouraged supposedly neutral journalists to push for gun regulation instead of reporting the facts surrounding the tragedies.
One thing the media seldom mention is that both the Newtown and Aurora shootings occurred in gun free zones. In the Clackamas Town Center Shooting in Oregon, however, a gunman was stopped when someone with a concealed carry permit intervened. There were only two casualties in this shooting which received little media attention. If this incident was mentioned, the concealed carry part of the story was almost completely ignored.
Bill Plante apparently couldn't be bothered to find more than one conservative/Republican for his report on Wednesday's CBS This Morning. Plante aired one soundbite from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but followed it with three straight clips from liberals/gun control supporters - White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the Brady Campaign's Dan Gross, and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, who attacked the NRA's leadership as "bullies".
The correspondent hyped supposed "public outrage over the massacre [that] has also emboldened members of Congress to challenge the power of the gun lobby." Plante also spotlighted the NRA's multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in 2012:
Bill Plante slanted four-to-one in favor of gun control on Monday's CBS This Morning as he reported on congressional Democrats' efforts to introduce new firearms regulations. Plante played soundbites from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Carolyn McCarthy, and President Barack Obama. His sole pro-gun rights talking head was Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who came only after the clips from the liberals were played in succession.
Despite Obama's recent hint towards supporting more gun control laws, in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Plante's clip of Obama came from a 2008 campaign rally where the then-senator tried to reassure gun owners.
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted that the Obama campaign is "turning lemons into lemonade" as she reported that the Democratic operation is "arguing that Romney had a great performance at the debate, but only because he was untethered from the truth." Not once did the correspondent or colleagues Norah O'Donnell and Bill Plante critically examine the claims from the incumbent or his operatives.
O'Donnell even spotlighted how "we heard David Axelrod say that they're going to change some things. They're even suggesting that Mitt Romney is a liar for what he said in the debate."
Immediately following Bill Plante's declaration on Thursday that Barack Obama is "one of the greatest orators of his generation," CBS This Morning co-anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell conducted an interview with Caroline Kennedy. Instead of discussing her upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention, they excessively flattered her family and party affiliation.
While reminiscing about the last presidential campaign season, O'Donnell spoke of the transference of "Kennedy magic" to Obama when he received an official endorsement from the former president's daughter and her more recently deceased uncle in 2008. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Bill Plante pointed out that "a new poll shows President Obama's support slipping in one key demographic that helped him win in 2008: white men." However, Pew Research Center's presidential exit poll from that year found that Obama actually lost 57 to 41 percent to Republican candidate John McCain.
Plante noted "concern in Mr. Obama's own party that his economic message in recent months is not connecting with voters," but led his report with a silver lining for the chief executive: "The President...has been claiming for months that he inherited the nation's economic problems, and in the new Gallup poll, more than two-thirds of Americans agree. They say that former President George Bush deserves either a moderate amount or a great deal of blame."
Bob Schieffer didn't think much of the accusation that President Obama is the "campaigner-in-chief" on Friday's CBS This Morning. When anchor Erica Hill wondered if that charge could be "harmful" to the President, Schieffer laughed aloud and replied, "If he raises enough money, it won't hurt him at all."
Just a day earlier on the morning show, correspondent Bill Plante actually pointed out that as of early June, Obama "will have done 153 fundraisers since formally declaring his candidacy for reelection a little over a year ago. That's nearly double the number President Bush had done at the same point in 2004."
The Big Three networks certainly have their priorities straight. ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning shows on Wednesday dedicated more time to entertainment news than the results of the Wisconsin recall election. On CBS This Morning, Disney's new ban on junk food ads from its kids programming received a minute and a half more than the political story. The same gap occurred on ABC's Good Morning America, but instead of junk food, the Miss USA pageant got the extra time.
NBC's Today, however, one-upped its competitors, as they devoted over six minutes to former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus getting engaged, while Republican Governor Scott Walker's victory received under four and a half minutes. Today also spent over five minutes on the Miss USA story.
CBS This Morning on Tuesday heralded President Obama and former President Bill Clinton's joint fundraising appearances in New York City, playing up the "star-studded lineup" that appeared with the two. Correspondent Bill Plante gushed that Obama "shared the stage and the spotlight with former President Bill Clinton...his reputation now bathed in nostalgia as he made the case for his fellow Democrat."
Political director John Dickerson also likened Clinton to a lumbering dog throwing its weight around: "He's [Clinton] also, sort of, a big St. Bernard bounding around the political landscape, saying what he wants, and it's difficult for the Obama team to quiet him down if he says something that might be slightly off message."