When, on Sunday's Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asserted that after the Senate debate over resolutions on Iraq “came to a halt, every newspaper in the country that I know about had a headline on the front page that said 'Republicans block debate on Iraq war,'” Republican Senator Trent Lott corrected Schieffer and all the other misguided journalists: “That was totally incorrect.” A befuddled Schieffer asked about the spin which dominated the media early in the week: “How can all of them have been wrong?” Lott explained: “Because we didn't block debate. Actually, the vote was to continue debate.” Indeed, Senate Republican wanted to allow votes on several proposed resolutions while the Democratic leadership wanted debate limited to two resolutions.
Schieffer himself endorsed the spin unfavorable to Republicans. On Wednesday's Early Show, as noted in Michael Rule's NewsBusters posting, Schieffer castigated Republicans: “So they did the only thing that they could do, they used the Senate rules to block the vote. Now that group will give you another version of all this, but basically that's what happened.”
Though all other major news outlets, including his own network's Saturday evening newscast, pegged the number of people who attended Saturday's anti-Iraq war protest rally in Washington, DC as in the “tens of thousands,” CBS's Bob Schieffer led Sunday's Face the Nation by endorsing the exaggerated attendance claims of self-interested organizers as he reminisced about the good old days of Vietnam protests. “Yesterday in Washington,” he recalled, “was like a day from yesteryear -- the war that to many seems long ago and far away: the war in Vietnam. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people descended on the capital to protest the war in Iraq.” Schieffer's opening of the January 28 Face the Nation segued into his lead interview with freshman Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia (Republican Senators Arlen Specter and Mitch McConnell were subsequent guests).
Last week saw the dawning of the new Democratic majority and members of the media seemed to be charmed by the event. ABC reporter Cokie Roberts described a photo-op of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding her grandchild as "fun" and "completely natural." CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed Pelosi and pressed her to raise taxes. And "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney became nostalgic for Democrats of old, saying it’s "hard to dislike Jimmy Carter."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann continued his fevered attack on all things Republican and conservative. He’s now accused White House Press Secretary Tony Snow of "bald-faced lying" about a Bush speech. Olbermann’s cohort in liberalism, Chris Matthews, described the Vice President of the United States as someone "who always wants to kill." Later in the week, he told his "Hardball" audience that he was "terrified" of the President’s plans for Iran. Chris, calm down!
Whether the newest elected politician is a Republican or a Democrat, the primary interest of the Washington press corps is always the same: push them to increase taxes. The latest example came in a taped interview aired on Sunday's Face the Nation during which CBS's Bob Schieffer pressed new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the left to raise taxes and was appalled when she suggested Democrats may actually cut taxes for some. Schieffer proposed: "President Bush said last week that he wanted to work with the Congress to balance the budget in five years. But he also rejected any tax increases and obviously he's not in a mood to reduce spending on the war. Is it possible to balance the budget under those conditions?" Without any consideration for reduced spending in areas other than the war, Schieffer quickly followed up on how to balance the budget: "Can you do it without raising taxes?"
When Pelosi suggested Democrats are looking at “making permanent and modernizing the research and development tax credit for small business. We're talking about helping families with higher education of their children with tax credits," an astounded Schieffer retorted: "So you're talking about more tax cuts?" Pelosi, however, soon acceded to Schieffer's preference as she explained that “we're not going to start with repealing tax cuts, but they certainly are not off the table for people making over half a million dollars a year." That seemed to please Schieffer: "So they may see their taxes go up?"
According to Bob Schieffer, the Democrats in Congress will be pursuing an "ambitious schedule" on ethics reform. Yet, Schieffer neglected to mention what the Democratic leadership is going to do about ethically challenged Democrats like William Jefferson of Louisiana or Alan Mollohan of West Virginia. Schieffer, appearing on the "Early Show’s" weekly "Capitol Bob" segment, noted loopholes in the Democrats plan on ethics reform, but was pleased that the new Congress was "going to get started."
However, when the Republican controlled Congress attempted to overhaul ethics procedures in June, Schieffer classified these attempts as "not much more than a joke." In a June 11, 2006 commentary on CBS’ "Face the Nation," Schieffer lamented:
The passing of President Gerald Ford drew a dignified, even warm farewell from the national press. There was near-consensus that he would be remembered for his decency and the risk he took, pardoning Richard Nixon from Watergate prosecutions in an effort to heal the nation. It is proper that the press is kind today. It ought to be remembered, however, that the press was not of this opinion when Ford took office.
For example, Time magazine’s cover story on the pardon in September 1974 declared that "Ford's first major decision raised disturbing questions about his judgment and his leadership capabilities, and called into question his competence." The cover carried suggestive sub-headlines like "Squandered Trust" and "Premature and Unwise." Such was the media’s mood toward this man’s actions in office.
In my first piece about this surprising Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Sunday indicating that the Republicans have been picking up ground on the Democrats in the past two weeks, I said that it would be interesting to see how this survey got reported. As compared to what ABC’s “This Week” did Sunday morning (i.e. beginning the program discussing it), CBS’s response was much more predictable. However, what was peculiar is the person CBS used to discredit the data given his pedigree and bona fides.
With that in mind, Bob Schieffer invited CBS political analyst Stuart Rothenberg on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” Rothenberg made it clear that he sees a big Democrat victory in the House on Tuesday (up to 40 seats), and the Democrats picking up four to seven seats in the Senate (video here). As the discussion moved to who will actually turn out to vote, Rothenberg questioned the methodology of the Washington Post/ABC News poll:
After appearing on CNN last week and granting an interview with Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz (who naively pondered the ferocity of what he considered the unwarranted conservative assault on the New York Times), Times Executive Editor Bill Keller again goes to a sympathetic outlet, CBS’s Face the Nation hosted by liberal host Bob Schieffer. Keller again defended his paper by throwing dark hints of a conservative anti-Times conspiracy.
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller appeared on CBS' Face the Nation to defend his treasonous decision to publish information about the SWIFT program, which tracked terrorists' banking accounts. (Video available at Expose the Left)
Keller attempted to play the sympathy card saying the public doesn't know when the NY Times DOES NOT publish sensitive information. If that wasn't disgusting enough, Keller continued his defense and summed up the leak as "one man's breach of security is another man's public relations."
Yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation", host Bob Schieffer claimed Congress is failing in its job to improve the lives of their constituents, and it wasting time and resources debating trivial conservative matters like Constitutional Amendments banning gay marriage and flag burning:
"It's been so long since Congress did anything, I have to stop and think to remember what it is they're supposed to do. Oh, I remember now, improve the lives of the people who elected them. I can't think of another reason; can you?
Don't misunderstand me. Congress does stay busy. The debate on the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage took a lot of time. Of course, all sides knew there was no chance it would pass. Did the debate improve your life?"
Karl Rove's accusation that Democrats, particularly Senator John Kerry and Congressman John Murtha, want to "cut and run" from Iraq enraged and baffled CBS's Bob Schieffer, as evidenced by how he repeatedly raised the quote on Sunday's Face the Nation. With his first guest, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, Schieffer read to him how Rove charged that "Democrats 'are ready to give the green light to go to war, but when it gets tough, when it gets difficult, they fall back on that party's old pattern of cutting and running. They may be with you at the first shots, but they are not going to be with you for the last, tough battle.'" Schieffer demanded: "What pattern is he talking about? When have Democrats been cutting and running?" Schieffer followed up: "But are you comfortable with characterizing the Democrats as people who want to cut and run?" Later, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who appeared with Democrat Joe Biden, Schieffer again cited the quote and then expressed his displeasure: "He's talking about two men who were wounded in combat when he says that. Is that really, is that really fair?"
On this Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, Bob Schieffer once again turned to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for analysis on developments in Iraq, the overall war on terrorism, and the Israel/Palestinian peace process.
Among the claims Friedman made were claiming that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was the "anti-Statue of Liberty." That America is alone in Iraq, discounting the contributions by the British and other coalition partners. And that he doesn’t "really want to blame America" for the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to come to a workable peace agreement.
Friedman began by seemingly eulogizing Zarqawi. He focused on how effective Zarqawi was as a terrorist, but doesn’t offer praise to our troops or thanks that he has been removed from the equation in Iraq:
SCHIEFFER: Sen. McConnell, let me start with you. Republicans are fighting among themselves in a way I haven't seen in quite a while; the war is going on; those gas prices are up; the Veterans Administration has found a way to let twenty-seven-and-a-half million veterans - has found a way to let their records, including their Social Security numbers - to be stolen; the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said the other day that Democrats didn't really need an agenda any more. They really only had to say is, "Had enough?" I want to ask you: Are you gonna be able to hold your majorities in the Senate and House this year?
On the Sunday shows, three top journalists mocked and ridiculed the Thursday Senate vote to make English the official national language, and thus prevent demands for government agencies to provide official forms and processes in other languages. On ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts dismissed it as “a very silly debate” and Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International, castigated the bill as “nonsense” and “nativist populism that is distasteful." In his end of show commentary on Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer also derided the vote as “silly.”
Criticizing Americas for speaking too few languages, Zakaria demanded: “What is the great problem in the United States?...That we speak too many foreign language languages, there are too many signs -- Americans are too multi-lingual? Have we forgotten what language we speak?" Zakaria soon charged: “It's a political football that has nothing to do with the real problem. It is simply one more way to try to assert a certain kind of nativist populism that is distasteful." Schieffer mockingly asked: “Were you like me and thought English was our national language? Sort of like we know the Washington Monument honors George Washington even though it doesn't have a sign on it that says 'Official Monument to George Washington.'...Of course new citizens should speak English, but why would the Senate spend hours debating whether to make English our national language? Let me break it to you gently: because it gives Senators something to do while they avoid addressing the real problems...” (Transcripts follow.)
Every week Bob Schieffer ends his Sunday political talk show "Face the Nation" with commentary. Yesterday he praised the virtues of putting America's national anthem "in a hundred languages."
Finally today in the ongoing effort to make our national debate about all the wrong things, we may have reached a milestone with a controversy whether over it is all right for the national anthem to be sung in Spanish. The blogs went nuts about it, of course. Going nuts is their natural state. Talk radio saw danger ahead, `Cover the children's ears.'
Now I'm with them on insisting that everyone who wants to be a citizen should learn English, and in an increasingly diverse country, common experiences have become rarer and rarer, and our language is one of the few things we all share. There is strength in that. But the anthem in English only? I don't get it.
Far from condemning a CIA officials damaging leak of classified information about ongoing efforts to prevent terrorism, on the Sunday morning interview shows, three panelists -- a former network White House correspondent, a newspaper and radio veteran and a current network anchor -- hailed Mary McCarthy, the CIA staffer fired last week for telling the Washington Post's Dana Priest about secret prisons in Eastern Europe. ABC's Sam Donaldson heralded the revelations as “a victory for the American people" and compared her actions to those sitting at lunch counters in the 1960s, NPR's Juan Williams trumpeted her “right to speak” and her “act of conscience” and CBS's Bob Schieffer characterized the prisons as what “scares” him and claimed the “CIA fired an agent for hanging out” with a reporter. (Transcripts follow.)
Over at CBS's Public Eye blog, "Face the Nation" executive producer Carin Pratt sounds typical liberal-media notes: she wants more coverage of the planet's demise, loathes bloggers, and loves John McCain:
What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
The environment. Although with the global warming situation hard to ignore, I figure that will change...
Do you read blogs? If so, which ones? If not, what do you read on the Internet?
I don't read blogs. In fact, I am anti-blog. If I want to hear a bunch of unedited thoughts -- that's what friends are for. Who has the time? Too many newspapers and magazines. Which, one hopes, have been edited.
Immigration has been the hot topic as of late and it was no different on Sunday’s edition of "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer. In the second segment of the program, Schieffer interviewed "New York Times" David Brooks. Schieffer introduced Brooks as a "proud conservative," and while Brooks may be conservative for "The New York Times"staff, to many conservatives he is reminiscent of John McCain in that he will be critical of conservatives to open doors to liberal media outlets.
Brooks railed against conservative Republicans who want a tough immigration bill accusing them of an unwillingness to "talk reasonably." To back up his point, Brooks points to comments apparently made by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA):
David Brooks: "I was up at a press conference this week where a House Republican said, `You know, we've got to have some people to pick lettuce in this country, so we're not going to have immigrants. Let's make the prisoners do it.’ You want to hit the guy on the head with a baseball bat. We're going to take a largely minority population, forced labor, picking lettuce and cotton. Is this ringing any bells here?"
On CBS and "Face The Nation" Sunday, host Bob Schieffer had an interesting exchange with his guest, Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney, who will rarely do Sunday morning interviews, was again pressed with questions of his almost expected and impending "resignation."
Also reported in a story titled "White House Shake-Up Isn't Needed, Says Cheney"by Douglass K. Daniel for the Associated Press (AP) as well, it seems the media fascination and obvious distress with the vice president's unabashed conservative views continue.
On this morning's Face The Nation, Bob Schieffer asked Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama about ethics reform, which the anchor said "looks like it's just almost about to slide right off the table."
Senator Obama responded: "Well, I'm not going to let it slide off the table." He went on to say that "We're going to try to see if we can ban some of the corporate jets that are being used and perks."
Mr. Schieffer could have followed up with a question concerning the senator's own practices in that area. Last month in "The Hill," reporter Lynn Sweet wrote: "In 2005, Obama took 23 such private aircraft flights, some to attend fundraisers he headlined."
There's a reason or two why Tim Russert rules the Sunday morning news show roost. One of them is he asks tough questions based on preparation. By contrast, on Sunday's "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer displayed the opposite. His interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin looked like the questions of someone who did no homework, like CBS pulled a man out of a Denny's and told him to play journalist -- and they were certainly questions that avoided any kind of toughness on Nagin.
There was nothing, first and foremost on the journalist's plate, about Nagin's wild exaggerations about a death toll of 10,000 and the rampant rape and murder he and his top cops gave to the national media. There was no question asking Nagin about his utter failure to order a mandatory evacuation until the last minute. There was no question asking Nagin about his failure to evacuate citizens by city bus or Amtrak train. There was no question asking Nagin about race-baiting and finger-pointing at FEMA and Team Bush. Schieffer has painted Michael Brown as the picture of incompetence, but Democrat Nagin is presented as a firm leader. Nagin faced only these softballs:
An extraordinary election occurred in Iraq on Thursday. However, all three major network Sunday talk shows – ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” – all began their programs this morning with a discussion about revelations released on Friday by The New York Times that the White House has been authorizing surveillance of potential terrorists on American soil without getting court orders.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer, after introducing his guests Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), began the segment (from closed captioning):
“Gentlemen, we have to start this morning with this story. It is against the law, of course, to eavesdrop or wire tap U.S. citizens in this country without a court order from a federal judge. But the "New York Times" says that is exactly what the president is authorized the government to do since 9/11. The secretary of state said this morning that the president has statutory and constitutional authorization to do what he did. So I'll start with Senator Graham. Does he have that authority, senator?”
It’s probably not the first time it has happened, but with the exception of ABC’s George Will – who, of course, has been a regular on that network’s “This Week” for many years – the networks’ Sunday political talk shows had no established conservative guests to participate in their weekly panel discussions. Joining George Stephanopoulos and George Will this morning were Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile, TIME magazine’s Jay Carney, and ABC’s Claire Shipman. NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” featured Katy Kay of the BBC, Michael Duffy of TIME magazine, Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC, and Terry Neal of the Washington Post. CBS’s “Face the Nation” did its annual Thanksgiving “historians” program.
The most left-leaning of the panels was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where Tim Russert invited Judy Woodruff, formerly of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” David Broder of the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson also of the Washington Post, and David Gregory of NBC News. While the “This Week” and “Matthews” panels actually engaged in a comparatively well-rounded discussion, the “Meet the Press” group spent the bulk of its half-hour talking about the “disaster” in Iraq. For instance, Robinson said, “I think that there's general agreement now that there will be a mess in Iraq when U.S. troops finally withdraw and it certainly won't be an Athenian democracy, as the administration said it was out to create.” Gregory agreed, “And unfortunately, perhaps the only outcome is a kind of low-level civil war that's akin to the Arab- Israeli situation with U.S. soldiers in the way.”
Woodruff then joined in by paraphrasing a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly:
CBS’s Thalia Assuras did a piece on “The Early Show” this morning (video link to follow) about President Bush’s falling poll numbers. In it, she took a snippet out of an interview that Bob Schieffer did with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) yesterday on “Face The Nation” to indicate that the senator was “concerned” about these polls and what they are currently suggesting. However, the sentences after this fragment that were not included in Assuras’s report qualified McCain’s concerns.
For example, Assuras stated, “The latest poll shows his support remains at its lowest ever, and that’s causing concern in his own party.” Then came McCain’s quote: “As a loyal Republican and a person who’s loyal to this president I am of course concerned. These numbers are not good.”
However, what CBS chose not to show the viewer were McCain’s next sentences (from caption dump):
A little something from Sunday's Face the Nation that shouldn't go unnoticed: Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu (LA), unable to cite, off-hand, examples which illustrated her allegation that the White House was orchestrating a smear campaign of local officials who responded to Hurricane Katrina, told host Bob Schieffer that he need only ask various "journalists throughout town."
About eight minutes into the program, host Bob Schieffer asked Landrieu: "Do you think the White House is trying to put the blame on local officials?"
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) began a stemwinder of an answer: "I am unfortunately aware that, yes, they are. While the president is saying he wants to work together as a team, I think the White House operatives have a full-court press on to blame state and local officials, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, whether it's Haley Barbour or Kathleen Blanco, whether it's Mayor Nagin or a Republican mayor from Mississippi. And it's very unfortunate.
Landrieu then went on to assert that FEMA was underfunded and underequipped for the disaster, after which Schieffer pressed her, "That's a very strong charge you've just leveled. What are some examples of that?"
Landrieu replied, "Well, I think that there are journalists throughout town that can give you those examples, and I'll be happy to provide more detail as the week unfolds..."
Schieffer didn't press the case further than that, but it's rather telling that a liberal Democrat, unable to substantiate her rhetoric, would urge a liberal journalist he need only consult his colleagues to see that her claims are valid.
CBS News has not reported this week on Janet Napolitano and Bill Richardson---Democratic governors facing reelection in 2006 in Arizona and New Mexico, respectively-- declaring states of emergency stemming from US-Mexico border security issues. Neither The Early Show nor the CBS Evening News have touched the story. Yet on Sunday, the day after Richardson issued his state of emergency declaration, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer pitched a softball which DNC chairman hit out of the park to slam Republicans as "scapegoating" immigrants for the upcoming 2006 midterm elections: