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: