CBS: Wisconsin Protestors' 'Passions Ran Over' After 'Relative Restraint'

Reporting on the passage of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposal to curb public union benefits and bargaining power, on Thursday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Cynthia Bowers referred to the union protestors in the state capital and declared: "After three weeks of relative restraint, passions ran over today."

That "restraint" has included threats against Republican state lawmakers (with an angry mob surrounding one of them), protestors storming the state capitol building, and signs comparing Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler. As a Media Research Center Media Reality Check detailed, the networks have failed to report on the most extreme actions of the protestors, while they were eager to condemn the "incivility" of the Tea Party.   

In her report, Bowers went on to explain: "The flashpoint was a vote inside the state's Assembly after the Governor and Senate Republicans used a surprise maneuver yesterday to reduce the union rights of most public workers and force them to pay more for their pensions and health benefits....Stunned Democrats expressed outrage."

Of the five sound bites featured in the report, four of them were of protestors and Wisconsin Democrats condemning the Republican legislative move. As Bowers began the segment, clips were played of protestors chanting "shame." In another clip, Democratic state representative Peter Barca announced: "Democracy is ceasing to exist in the state of Wisconsin."

Bowers prefaced a sound bite of Walker near the end of the segment with: "The Republican governor, who's faced weeks of protest and falling poll numbers, senses the end game is near." She noted: "Democrats vow they'll fight this legislation in court, challenging the way Republicans brought it to a vote, which mean this battle could continue for months."

Here is a full transcript of Bowers' March 10 report:

6:40PM ET

KATIE COURIC: And now to the storm of protests in a number of state capitals. Police estimate 8,000 people took to the streets of Indianapolis to protest what they see as Republican attempts to reduce worker rights. And in Madison, Wisconsin, Cynthia Bowers reports, the state legislature has voted to do just that.

PROTESTORS: Shame. Shame.

CYNTHIA BOWERS: After three weeks of relative restraint, passions ran over today.

PROTESTORS: Shame.

BOWERS: Protestors and police shoved each other outside the capitol. While inside, authorities forcibly removed demonstrators and locked out the media and even some lawmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We have members who have been denied the right to enter the building.

BOWERS: The flashpoint was a vote inside the state's Assembly after the Governor and Senate Republicans used a surprise maneuver yesterday to reduce the union rights of most public workers and force them to pay more for their pensions and health benefits. Inside the Assembly today, the debate was fierce as Democrats fought against an inevitable law.

PETER BARCA [STATE REP. D-WI]: Democracy is ceasing to exist in the state of Wisconsin.

BOWERS: You can hear protestors' reaction to the bill's passage of the assembly. They may question its legitimacy, but once the governor signs it, it will be law.
                    
Senate Republicans did an end-run around 14 Senate Democrats who fled the state three weeks ago today. Without the Democrats, there were not enough members to pass this kind of bill, which Republicans said would crucial to the state's budget. But last night, Republicans re-wrote the bill, removing all mention of budgets, instead, making it about labor rights and benefits. And that new bill passed eighteen to one. Stunned Democrats expressed outrage.

JON ERPENBACH [STATE SEN. D-WI]: So he's created this false crisis out there to promote this agenda that has nothing to do with anybody who lives in this state.

BOWERS: The Republican governor, who's faced weeks of protest and falling poll numbers, senses the end game is near.

GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: At some point the public wants us to move forward. We have a process that was passed in the Senate last night that will allow us to move forward.

BOWERS: Democrats vow they'll fight this legislation in court, challenging the way Republicans brought it to a vote, which mean this battle could continue for months. Katie.

KATIE COURIC: Cynthia Bowers in Madison, Wisconsin, tonight. Cynthia, thank you.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC