CNN Reporter: Helpful Democrats Will Give You More Time Off Work!

Monday’s edition of "American Morning" featured a decidedly one sided segment that advocated for Democratic legislation, generously highlighted Ted Kennedy and promoted San Francisco as the wave of the future. Correspondent Alina Cho used the piece to boost a bill that would require employers with more than 15 workers to give seven sick days a year. Disparaging America’s primitive stance on the issue, she noted that "139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay." Cho almost entirely ignored opposition to this plan. Her segment also highlighted a supposed victim of this problem who is actually on the board of directors of a group that lobbies for similar laws. (Somehow, this didn't come up.) The entire story sounded like something taken straight from a DNC press release:

Alina Cho: "...For many Americans, taking a sick day is not a big deal. You take it for granted. But by most estimates, more than half of all Americans who work in the private sector do not get a single day of paid sick leave. Not a single day. Well, all of that could change now that the Democrats are about to take control of Congress. And for some families, it could make all the difference. Rachel Sobel, mother of two, quit her job last December when she was forced to make a choice: her job or her son. Leo had broken his arm and needed her care."

Well, who is Rachel Sobel? She’s on the board of directors for ParentsWork, an Illinois based organization that, according to their website, has the following goals:

"By connecting parents with information and tools to take action, our hope is that ParentsWork can give us the strength in numbers that we need to get business leaders and elected officials to listen to our concerns and do something about them. So, join us and become part of a growing movement of Illinois parents who want to create a better future for our children and grandchildren."

CNN and Ms. Cho apparently couldn’t find the time to mention this salient point. Later in the piece, which aired at 7:16am, the reporter simply stated that Sobel "now has a part-time job which affords her more time with her kids but less money." The viewer is left with the impression that this is just a regular, ordinary mother with no particular agenda.

"American Morning" hosts Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien both promoted the legislation earlier in the program. In a 7AM tease, Ms. O’Brien helpfully added the following insight:

Soledad O’Brien: "This morning, how the power shift in Washington could make it easier for you to call in sick and still get paid."

A few minutes later, Miles O’Brien introduced Cho and continued the "helpful Democrats" theme:

Miles O’Brien: "Well, I wonder how you feel this morning? You might wish you could just call in sick and roll over, but you can't because you'd lose a day's pay. Well, You may be getting some relief soon. Some members of Congress have the prescription for new legislation that could give you a break."

In her segment, Cho cited a city and a person in order to promote the legislation: San Francisco and Ted Kennedy. Somehow, the word "liberal" wasn’t applied to either:

Cho: "Next month, Senator Ted Kennedy will reintroduce a bill that would require companies with 15 or more employees to provide full-time workers seven days of paid sick leave a year."

Ted Kennedy: "It’s good enough for the members of Congress, good enough for the Senate, the House of Representatives. It's good enough for hard-working people."

Cho: "It’s already good enough for San Francisco. The city recently approved a similar measure, the first in the nation to do so. Kennedy says it should be federal policy."

The CNN correspondent mostly ignored or downplayed the economic impact this bill would have. The report, almost four minutes in length, included only a five second clip of opposition to the legislation, and note that it included a plea for more taxes:

Cho: "Business leaders say if paid sick leave is that important, Congress should raise taxes to pay for it."

Randel Johnson (U.S. Chamber of Commerce): "People get sick, need time off, why should the employer necessarily have to pay for that burden?"

After that, Cho shifted right back into enthusiastic cheerleader mode, bashing America for not living up to other, more enlightened countries:

Cho: "Now, business leaders who are against paid sick leave say employers simply can't afford to pay for it. But people like Rachel Sopel say in the long run, and this makes sense, if the person goes into work sick and gets everyone else sick, it will hurt businesses, especially productivity, even more. Interesting to note, 139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay. And Miles, Senator Kennedy says next to minimum wage, paid sick leave is the most important issue facing American workers here."

Advocating that America embrace the policies of socialist countries isn’t a new angle. On October 5, 2005, Brent Baker noted that both ABC and NBC were promoting an embrace of European legislation:

"ABC and NBC turned a study, on how children are better off cared for by mothers at home instead of in daycare, into a chance to promote European socialistic paid leave benefits."

Katie Couric, then a host of "Today," made her feelings clear. She wondered, "This country is pretty far behind in providing really superior childcare for working parents, right?" Now that the Democrats are writing bills, America can probably expect more "independent" experts and profiles of all sorts of exciting new legislation.

A transcript of the December 11 "American Morning" report follows:

7:00 

Soledad O’Brien: "This morning, how the power shift in Washington could make it easier for you to call in sick and still get paid."

7:16

Miles O’Brien: "Well, I wonder how you feel this morning? You might wish you could just call in sick and roll over, but you can't because you'd lose a day's pay. Well, You may be getting some relief soon. Some members of Congress have the prescription for new legislation that could give you a break. ‘American Morning’s’ Alina Cho is feeling well, I hope."

Alina Cho: "I am. Miles, good morning to you."

O’Brien: "Good to have you."

Cho: "Thank you. You know, for many Americans, taking a sick day is not a big deal. You take it for granted. But by most estimates, more than half of all Americans who work in the private sector do not get a single day of paid sick leave. Not a single day. Well, all of that could change now that the Democrats are about to take control of Congress. And for some families, it could make all the difference. Rachel Sobel, mother of two, quit her job last December when she was forced to make a choice: her job or her son. Leo had broken his arm and needed her care."

Rachel Sobel: " I had to be home with him."

Cho: "But she couldn’t. She already used her payed time off, which included only two sick days, so she quit to care for her son. It's a dilemma lots of Americans face. Nearly half of all workers in the private sector don't get any paid sick time. And lower-wage workers are the hardest hit. With Democrats about to take control of Congress, they're vowing to fight for a change."

Ted Kennedy: "I, quite frankly, am tired of playing defense. I think it's time that we played offense."

Cho: "Next month, Senator Ted Kennedy will reintroduce a bill that would require companies with 15 or more employees to provide full-time workers seven days of paid sick leave a year."

Kennedy: "It’s good enough for the members of Congress, good enough for the Senate, the House of Representatives, it's good enough for hard-working people."

Cho: "It’s already good enough for San Francisco. The city recently approved a similar measure, the first in the nation to do so. Kennedy says it should be federal policy. Business leaders say if paid sick leave is that important, Congress should raise taxes to pay for it."

Randel Johnson (U.S. Chamber of Commerce): "People get sick, need time off, why should the employer necessarily have to pay for that burden?"

Cho: "Rachel now has a part-time job which affords her more time with her kids but less money. What she really wants is a full time job that allows her enough time off to take care of her kids when they’re sick and get paid at the same time."

Sobel: "It's really all-American workers who deserve this."

Cho: "Now, business leaders who are against paid sick leave say employers simply can't afford to pay for it. But people like Rachel Sopel say in the long run, and this makes sense, if the person goes into work sick and gets everyone else sick, it will hurt businesses, especially productivity, even more. Interesting to note, 139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay. And Miles, Senator Kennedy says next to minimum wage, paid sick leave is the most important issue facing American workers here."

Miles O’Brien: "Now, the system we have here, we really don’t have sick days. We have PTO, paid time off."

Cho: "Right."

Miles O’Brien: "It all kind of gets lumped into vacation."

Cho: "That's right. So, you might get 30 days total for the year, vacation, personal days, sick days. And it's a trend. A lot more companies are doing things this way. And proponents of this policy say it's a good idea because, listen, if you have a family and you need to take sick days, you can take sick days. Work if you don't and you want to take more vacation, you can do that. And they say it actually discourages people from taking sick days, unless they’re absolutely sick and need to take a sick day. And it's a trend that's caught on."

O’Brien: "Of course, it might cause them to come in sick and get everyone sick, which is--"

Cho: "Right. That’s the other side of it."

Soledad O’Brien: "But that woman, her son broke her arm. She just wasn’t going to spread germs, she just wanted to be able to help him."

Cho: "That’s right. And she had to quit as a result."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org