Using Corzine as Peg, CBS Evening News Scolds Bush for Not Wearing a Seatbelt

As if President Bush needed any new actions for which to be criticized by the news media....In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on the federal government's Memorial Day weekend effort to get people to wear seatbelts, reporter Nancy Cordes maintained that President Bush “is taking heat” for not wearing a seatbelt while driving his pick-up truck at his Texas ranch. Cordes began with a new public service announcement (PSA) from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine who was seriously injured in a high-speed auto accident (“I'm New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and I should be dead....I have to live with my mistake. You don't. Buckle up.”)

After showing how characters in television shows often don't wear a seatbelt, Cordes turned to Bush: “Corzine's not the only politician taking heat for his habits. The White House press corps wants to know why President Bush won't buckle up when he's tooling around his Texas compound.” But she had to concede, as she led into a clip of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: “It's not illegal. He's on private property, but still.” As for “taking heat,” that heat came in the very last question posed at Snow's May 22 briefing -- so hardly a priority for any journalist but those at CBS News.

The ABC and NBC evening newscasts managed to report on Corzine's PSA without using it as an opportunity to slap Bush.

From the end of the May 24 CBS Evening News story:
Nancy Cordes: “Corzine's not the only politician taking heat for his habits. The White House press corps wants to know why President Bush won't buckle up when he's tooling around his Texas compound. It's not illegal. He's on private property, but still.”

Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary: “Well, it's always important to wear seat belts, especially when driving slowly on the ranch.”

Cordes, over HBO video of an SUV rolling over: “That's a lesson one of the Sopranos learned the hard way this month.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center