On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric proclaimed: "The federal commission that investigated the financial meltdown has reportedly concluded it could have been avoided. The New York Times says a report due out tomorrow finds plenty of fault to go around, including mismanagement by corporations and lax regulation by the government."
Couric made sure to point out: "The report also says that contrary to popular belief, the government's push to increase home ownership in this country was not a major contributor to the meltdown." What she failed to mention was that New York Times article also explained: "The partisan nature of the findings, however, could undermine its impact. Of the 10 commission members, only the six appointed by Democrats...attended the news conference [publicizing the report]." It went on to add: "The four Republican commissioners have prepared two separate dissents; three of them planned to hold a conference call Thursday afternoon."
Wednesday's CBS Early Show adopted a hostile tone in its coverage of the upcoming vote by House Republicans to repeal ObamaCare, with co-host Chris Wragge proclaiming: "The battle over health care heats up again today. The House plans a vote on repealing the legislation. It fulfills a campaign promise for Republicans and begins a two-year effort to try to dismantle the law."
In the report that followed, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes portrayed the GOP as an eager aggressor: "This is a day that House Republicans have been waiting for, for months. The day that they get to vote to undo a law that they fiercely oppose." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "GOP vs. Obama; House to Vote on Repealing Healthcare Reform."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on all three morning shows, Wednesday, but only Meredith Vieira on the Today show seemed to assume a second term for Clinton's boss, Barack Obama. After questioning how long she'd stay in the job, the NBC co-anchor wondered, "Do we expect any time soon that you are planning to retire like defense Secretary Gates?...How about the second term?"
On CBS's Early Show, Erica Hill also asked Clinton about her future plans, but simply noted that the Secretary of State planned on staying "at least through this first term."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on Sarah Palin's first interview since the Tucson shooting: "She accused the Left and the news media of trying to destroy her message, trying to destroy her, said she was being accused of being an accessory to murder." Cordes forgot to mention her role in furthering those accusations against the former Alaska governor.
After playing a clip of Palin's Monday interview on Fox News' Hannity, Cordes mentioned: "The early response I'm hearing from some on the Left about this interview is, 'Look we never said she was an accessory to murder, we simply said she was an accessory to in-civility in politics.'" On the day of the shooting, reporting for the CBS Evening News, Cordes implied Palin played a role in inciting the violence: "Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in cross hairs on a Sarah Palin campaign Web site last spring. Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, after reporting claims from Ron Reagan Jr. that President Ronald Reagan may have had Alzheimer's Disease while in office, co-host Erica Hill asked other son Michael Reagan about those accusations: "And your brother has said this is just his own feeling....Could it be possible there may have been something else? Could he [President Reagan] have had dementia?"
Michael rejected the notion: "No, he didn't have dementia. Look what he accomplished in the last four years of his presidency. Reykjavik, START agreements, all the things he accomplished. The speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987 on June 12th. Look what he accomplished in those last four years. Someone with dementia does not accomplish all of those things." He went on to say of his brother: "...we don't even know in the family if Ron voted for his father back in 1981 or in 1984 when he ran for President."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips declared how the beatification of Pope John Paul II to sainthood was moving "at break-neck speed" and noted that "Groups protesting the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal are urging the Vatican to slow down the process."
Despite the protests, Phillips remarked that "the current pope, Benedict XVI, seems determined to charge ahead with the canonization of his extremely popular predecessor." Earlier in the report, he suggested John Paul II's road to sainthood was a short cut: "It normally takes centuries for major Church figures to reach sainthood and join the saintly statues on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica. But John Paul II has been fast-tracked."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill noted President Obama "calling for a little bit of a detente" in the wake of the Tucson shooting and wondered, "is this civility going to last?" Political analyst John Dickerson argued: "There will be one small test next week as House Republicans bring up the repeal of the health care bill."
Dickerson criticized the name of the repeal legislation: "What used to be called the 'Job-Killing Health Care Bill,' which now of course has – operates in a much different context." Hill followed up: "Can the President make that, I guess, good will, for lack of a better word, last past the State of the Union in a couple of weeks?" Dickerson asserted: "Health care will be a bit of a sideshow because it won't really go anywhere after the House does it its work on that bill. But on the budget, on lifting the debt ceiling, on some of these other issues, there will have to be actual cooperation."
On Tuesday's Early Show, correspondent Ben Tracy acknowledged that the facts in the Tuscon shooting do not support media spin that the tragedy was incited by right-wing political rhetoric: "Authorities tell CBS News that Loughner's attack on Congresswoman Giffords' was not partisan, but more likely because he was anti-government in general and she was a symbol of it."
Minutes later, co-host Erica Hill reported on a new CBS News poll on the shooting: "The Sheriff [Clarence Dupnik] investigating the shootings in Arizona has publicly blamed the extreme political rhetoric across this country for the tragedy....A majority of Americans, however, don't necessarily agree that's the case....57% of respondents don't believe the harsh tone had anything to do with the shootings. Just 32% say it did." At the top of the 8:00AM ET hour, news reader Jeff Glor again touted the new poll: "...there's more debate over whether a heated political atmosphere played a role....most Americans reject that idea."
Reporting on the political fallout of the Tucson shooting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: "Now some are questioning whether the increasingly angry tone in politics could have contributed to a culture of violence."
Cordes noted how "members of Congress took their soul searching public, Sunday," followed by sound bites of two Democrats lamenting heated political rhetoric. Cordes observed: "Look no further than recent campaign ads....Filled with images and rhetoric that would once have been considered off limits." Two clips were played as examples, the first from West Virginia Democratic Governor and then Senate candidate Joe Manchin, going after his own party, using a rifle to shoot a bullet through proposed Cap and Trade legislation. Cordes failed to identify Manchin as a Democrat. The other ad was from Alabama Tea Party candidate Rick Barber, with a depiction of Thomas Jefferson calling on conservatives: "Gather your armies."
Friday's CBS Early Show praised the pick of former Commerce Secretary William Daley as the new chief of staff for the Obama White House, with senior White House correspondent Bill Plante proclaiming: "While Daley has long ties to the Democratic Party, he's viewed as a centrist whose Wall Street connections should help him with the newly divided Congress."
Following Plante's report, co-host Erica Hill got reaction from former George W. Bush adviser Dan Bartlett and wondered: "As you look at this appointment of Bill Daley....coming over from Chase, he sits on a number of corporate boards. Is the message from the White House essentially not only that the White House is open for, but also open to, business this morning?" Bartlett replied: "I really think that is the clear message. If you take this, coupled with the tax compromise they made at the end of last year, it is sending an important signal."
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes derided Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare: "On Friday, they begin their assault on health care reform, with a vote to repeal the law scheduled for next week."
Cordes noted how repeal "will hit a wall in the Senate," observing: "That legislative reality will force both sides to work together on some issues, something Speaker Boehner promised to Democrats." However, moments later she touted Democratic accusations of GOP partisanship: "Democrats are already crying foul, saying that that vote to repeal health care is being held without holding hearings first, without allowing amendments, a move that they argue flies in the face of all those promises of openness."
Talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer on Wednesday's Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge saw efforts to repeal ObamaCare as a political liability: "How risky a proposition is this for Republicans incoming now?" Schieffer dismissed it as, "a lot of shouting, hollering, and symbolic votes," adding, "we've got a couple of months before anything really serious is going to happen."
Wragge went on to cite liberal New York Times writer Matt Bai, who claimed Republicans had no real political mandate despite extensive victories in November: "Once you win, the human tendency is to credit the gravitational force of your own ideas, to assume that you made a more compelling and more substantive case than you actually did." Wragge asked Schieffer: "Is that what we may see in the early days from the Republican leadership here, do you think?"
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante warned that as President Obama returns from vacation, " the new Republican majority in the House is ready to pounce." Plante went on to declare that the House GOP "slammed" Obama by scheduling a vote to repeal "his signature health care bill" on January 12.
Plante parroted Democratic talking points denouncing the repeal effort: "Senate Democrats fired back in a letter, warning that to do so would be 'irresponsible and reckless at a time when it is becoming harder and harder for seniors to afford a healthy retirement.'" He then concluded: "Both sides know that the House vote is purely symbolic. With no chance that the Senate Democrats will agree to kill health care."
Reporting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes decried House Republicans attempting to repeal ObamaCare: "...they made it clear they'll try to use their 49-vote advantage to wipe out key Democratic legislation from 2010. Including the President's signature achievement, health care reform."
Following Cordes's report, co-host Erica Hill asked political analyst John Dickerson about the likelihood of repeal. After Dickerson explained that repeal could not pass, a relieved Hill declared: "So, folks who like it may not have to worry about it? Because there are certain provisions that have actually gone over well with a fair number of Americans. Things like keeping your adult children on you're insurance and of course those lifetime coverage limits." Dickerson agreed: "And new things that people will like are coming on line with the new year. Middle income seniors will see – get some relief in the prescription drug prices."
On Sunday's Face the Nation, substitute host Harry Smith dismissed GOP goals of "dismantling health care" as merely a "fool's errand."
The Early Show on CBS and NBC’s Today show on Friday both gave attention to Lake Superior State University’s "list of words that should be banned in 2011 because of overuse or general uselessness," and both shows mentioned one or two words made famous by Sarah Palin as each show listed four or five out of the 14 words tallied. Both CBS’s Betty Nguyen and NBC’s Thomas Roberts noted the inclusion of "refudiate" on the list, but CBS also mentioned that the term "mama grizzlies" made the cut.
Two years ago, the Today show also noted the inclusion of the term "first dude" - made famous by Palin during the 2008 election - when the 2009 edition of the list came out. On the January 5, 2009, Today show, co-host Meredith Vieira labeled the term as "a little goofy." Notably, co-host Matt Lauer fretted about the inclusion of the word "green," as in "going green," on the 2009 list as he asserted, "I don’t think that should be banished. I mean, we should talk more about that one."
Time magazine's Michael Scherer on Monday constructed one of the odder political metaphors when he compared the likelihood of Barack Obama running for reelection to the recent announcement that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is engaged.
Appearing on Monday's Early Show, he joked, "This is about as surprising as Hugh Hefner getting married again." The weird comparison makes even less sense when you think that Hefner is 84 and has only been married twice. (The eight-time married Elizabeth Taylor, he is not.)
Early Show guest host Russ Mitchell quizzed Scherer on the announcement by White House press Secretary Robert Gibbs that Obama would likely run for a second term: "The President's run in 2008 was historic in so many ways. How will the 2012 campaign be different, do you think?"
In a report at the top of the 8AM ET hour of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante ridiculed Sarah Palin for daring to criticize First Lady Michelle Obama's weight loss campaign: "Palin has never been at a loss for an opinion on anything, including taking a pot shot at the First Lady's campaign to eat healthy."
Fill-in news reader Betty Nguyen introduced Plante's report by declaring: "And there's a war over dessert. Yes, a food fight has broken out between the First Lady and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin." Throughout the segment, the headline on screen read: "Palin Food Fight; Dessert War."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, substitute co-host Russ Mitchell announced that "the lame duck session of Congress could hand President Obama yet another victory" with possible passage of the START nuclear arms treaty. Moments later, Mitchell declared that "The President seems to be on a hot streak."
Mitchell got analysis from Republican strategist Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. Bartlett hardly offered an opposing viewpoint, as he completely agreed with Mitchell's assessment of Obama: "It's a great streak he's on. He's on a hot streak....this is a narrative now that the President can stitch together going in to the new year....they've got a lot to crow about going into the new year." The headline on-screen throughout the segment read: "Obama's Rebound?; President Scores Political Victories During Lame Duck Session."
On Saturday's Early Show fill-in co-host Russ Mitchell saw passage of the tax deal as a possible "turning point for Mr. Obama's presidency" and speculated that it was "perhaps setting the stage for another victory as the Senate takes up the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law."
In the report that followed, correspondent Whit Johnson declared that with the deal "President Obama could finally declare victory." The headline on screen read: "The President's Big Win; More Success Before The Holiday Break?" Johnson explained "that after months of debate, they [Democrats] finally have the votes to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" In a report on Sunday Morning, Johnson touted the eventual repeal of the policy on Saturday as a "major victory" for Democrats.
At the top of a report on CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Whit Johnson proclaimed: "In San Francisco yesterday, they celebrated the end of an era. After nearly two decades, the policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is all but history." The one-sided segment focused almost exclusively on supporters of repeal.
Of the ten sound bites featured throughout the story, only one, that of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, was critical of the policy being overturned. Johnson described how "Opponents of repeal...pleaded that such a dramatic change during a time of two wars would put troops in harm's way." However, after the clip of McCain was played, Johnson dismissed critics of repeal: "Democrats got a boost from a recent Pentagon study in which two-thirds of U.S. troops said changing the controversial law would have little impact, a feeling shared by most of America."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on the passage of legislation to extend current tax rates and described it as: "an early holiday gift for every American taxpayer." She pointed out how "The cost of all that led 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans to vote no."
Moments later, she falsely claimed: "The bill also cuts the estate tax rate from 45% in 2009 to 35%, a White House concession to Republicans." While tax did exist in 2009, the 2010 estate tax rate was zero, therefore, having any tax on inheritance in 2011 would be a tax increase. Also, the fact that the estate tax is being reimplemented at all is a concession by Republicans, who would prefer it to remain at zero.
In honor of Harry Smith leaving the CBS Early Show at the end of the month, along with weatherman Dave Price and already departed co-host Maggie Rodriguez, actor Mark Wahlberg concluded an interview with the morning show host by literally getting on the floor and kissing Smith's feet, declaring "You're the best, ever."
On November 30, it was announced that Smith, Rodriguez, and Price would be replaced by Chris Wragge, Erica Hill, Jeff Glor and Marysol Castro starting January 3. Walhberg's send-off included not only feet-kissing, but he embraced Smith twice as the show moved on to the next segment.
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith seemed skeptical of the legal reasoning of a federal judge who ruled part of ObamaCare was unconstitutional: "The thing that he objects to most strenuously is this idea that everybody has to be insured. And the Republicans are jumping up and down, they're ready to have a party. Do you think they have a legal leg to stand on?"
Smith directed that question to Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who used the softball setup to declare: "I think the law is sound, and when Eric Cantor on the Republican side says, 'Let's repeal ObamaCare,' he wants to repeal the protection Americans want against the discrimination against them for pre-existing conditions. I think that's a losing political position."
On Friday, all three network morning shows expressed sympathy for protestors in London rioting against college tuition increases, despite a Thursday attack on the royal family. While CBS's Early Show, ABC's Good Morning America, and NBC's Today all reported on security concerns over Prince Charles and wife Camilla, each broadcast also lamented Britain's "drastic new budget cuts."
At the top of the Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "There have been these protesters in London for a couple weeks now because tuition hikes for college tuition skyrocketing there." Fill-in co-host Rebecca Jarvis then chimed in by arguing on behalf of the rioters: "Of course they pay very high taxes there so they expect something for those taxes." Later, in an 8:00AM ET hour news brief, anchor Jeff Glor pointed out: "In the last fiscal year, the government spent $60 million on household costs for the royals....But, the government still voted to triple university tuition to $14,000 a year to help control the deficit."
In an interview with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine on Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith seemed to lament the deal to extend current tax rates and wondered: "...this gets extended...assume the economy's much better two years from now, assume you still have a Republican-dominated Congress, there's any chance that these taxes ever going to go back into effect?"
Smith's use of the phrase "back into effect" suggests that the higher tax rates prior to the Bush-era cuts were the natural appropriate levels. In a report prior to the interview, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante continued to push the idea that the deal would cut taxes rather than simply maintain current rates: "The biggest sticking points for House Democrats: the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year. And the agreement on the estate tax, which would raise the inheritance amount exempted from tax from 3.5 million to 5 million and reduce the tax rate from 2009 by 10 points."
Plante made no mention of the fact that the 2010 estate tax rate is zero and that any inheritance tax in 2011 would be an increase. As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock reported on Thursday, all three networks have inaccurately reported on the issue.
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Thursday offered misleading, sloppy reporting on a congressional tax deal, bizarrely suggesting that the proposal "slashes" the estate tax. In a follow-up piece, news anchor Juju Chang asserted that many Democrats "are still opposed, especially to the estate tax cut."
In reality, the so-called death tax is currently at zero. Under the deal, it will increase to 35 percent. Karl mangled, "Even Democratic leaders are fuming, especially unhappy with the provision that slashes the tax on inheritances."
On the CBS Early Show, news anchor Jeff Glor spun, "One of [the Democrats'] major objections, that proposal to lower estate taxes." Again, an increase from zero to 35 percent is not "lowering." (If no action had been taken the rate would have returned to 55 percent for individuals worth more than $1 million.) This may be slowing the rate of increase and increasing the exemption rate, but it's hardly "slashing."
In the wake of November's election results there was much discussion in the press over whether or not the newly strengthened Republican Party would be willing to compromise with Democrats. However, since Monday's announcement of a deal on extending current tax rates, many in the media have been critical of President Obama for giving in to the GOP.
Before the votes had even been cast in the midterm election, on ABC's November 2 Good Morning America, former Bill Clinton advisor and co-host George Stephanopoulos worried: "[Republicans] have to make a choice, as well. Do they choose to cooperate with President Obama or stand firm on principle, which is going to guarantee gridlock?"
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith made liberal reaction to President Obama's Monday announcement of a tax deal with Republicans the central focus of coverage: "Let's make a deal. President Obama and Republican leaders agree to extend Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. What did the President get in return? And will it be enough to stop any challenge from angry Democrats?"
In the later segment, little attention was given to Republican reaction to the deal. While two sound bites of the President's address on the issue were played, no Republican sound bites were featured.
Smith lamented how the deal "breaks a long-standing promise by the President." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante followed by explaining: "The President did campaign on a promise to end tax breaks for the wealthy. But he had no leverage....in order to get tax breaks for the middle class, he's had to settle for this." Plante concluded his report by declaring: "Democrats are still angry. A lot of them think that the President sold out to the Republicans."
On Saturday morning, FNC’s Fox and Friends Saturday and ABC’s Good Morning America highlighted Democratic Senator Bob Menendez’s assertion that negotiating with Republicans taxes is like negotiating with terrorists. NBC’s Today show included a brief mention, but CBS’s The Early Show and CNN Saturday Morning ignored the New Jersey Democrat’s over-the-top rhetoric.
FNC included a soundbite of Menendez in the opening teaser, as co-host Alisyn Camerota asked if the "hostile words" of Democrats would "hurt negotiations." On ABC, correspondent David Kerley included a clip of the "tough language," and co-host Bianna Golodryga gave Republican Senator Orrin Hatch a chance to respond as the Utah Senator appeared as a guest. Golodryga: " I want to begin by asking your response to that dramatic language we heard from your Democratic counterpart, Senator Menendez, basically calling Republicans terrorists with regards to the process of tax cuts."
FNC began its show:
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. It's Saturday, December 4. Two major tax votes happening today in the Senate, but are the Democrats' hostile words hurting negotiations?
SENATOR BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): It's almost like the question of: Do you negotiate with terrorists?