CBS Pummels Rubio on Gun Control, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose lived up to their reputation for hammering Republican/conservative guests, as they interviewed Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Rose mouthed a line from President Obama's Tuesday State of the Union address, where the chief executive invoked the families of gun violence victims to push for stricter gun control: "Do you agree with the President that those people deserve a vote?"

Later in the segment, O'Donnell strongly hinted that the Florida politician, and Republicans in general, were extremists [audio available here; video below the jump]:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Senator, you have been called 'the Republican savior'. (Rubio laughs) Yesterday, you voted against the Violence Against Women Act. You've opposed repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'. You opposed universal background checks for gun buyers. You've yet to introduce a bill on immigration reform. Is that the future of the Republican Party?

Senator Marco Rubio, (R), Florida; Screen Cap From 13 February 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgRose led the Rubio interview with his rephrasing of the Obama quote as a question. Rubio answered, in part, that the "problem is that laws are only followed by law-abiding people. The people who commit these gun crimes...don't care what the law is....And that's my concern with the proposals that I see coming out, and I also think they undermine...the right of law-abiding citizens to possess arms via the Second Amendment. So, I'm not sure what proposals specifically the President was referring to." The PBS veteran followed up by asking, "So, you'd like to see a proposal that you can vote on, with respect to gun control?"

Despite the fact the President only briefly mentioned "equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families, gay and straight" during his State of the Union address, O'Donnell clearly wanted to go after Rubio on the wider issue of homosexuals serving in the military, along with the litany of other issues that she brought up in her first question.

The Florida Republican first clarified why he voted against the updated version of the Violence Against Women Act. He continued by noting that the vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" occurred before his tenure in the Senate. But this answer didn't satisfy the liberal journalist, who interrupted Rubio as he tried to answer the immigration part of her question:

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: ...Some of the other things you've outlined – 'don't ask, don't tell' – that happened before I was even in – in the Senate. And, as far as immigration reform is concerned-

O'DONNELL: But do you support it now then – the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell?


RUBIO: Well, I'm not – listen, we're not going to change it, and I'm not saying we should change it. Ultimately, you know, it's the law. Now that they've decided it, I don't think it's undermined our military readiness. We've debated that and moved on from it. Here's the bottom line: what I've always said on 'don't ask, don't tell', by the way, is that it's a decision that we should listen to the military commanders on, not the politicians. I believe that's what I believe I've said on that issue.

The two CBS anchors ended the segment by asking about the President's proposal to increase the minimum wage to $9.00 and a much-hyped moment during Rubio's response to the State of the Union where the senator drank a bottled water.

O'Donnell and Rose have conducted several hostile interviews of Republicans/conservative in recent months. On November 14, 2012, the two anchors took turns pummeling Senator John McCain over his opposition to the potential nomination of Susan Rice to be secretary of state. Almost two weeks later, O'Donnell hounded popular Christian pastor Rick Warren over his support of traditional marriage.

During a December 13, 2012 interview, Rose and co-anchor Gayle King pressed former Senator Jim DeMint over congressional Republicans' opposition to higher taxes. Over a month later, O'Donnell barely contained her contempt for NRA president David Keene during an interview on the gun control issue.

By contrast, she and Rose conducted a more softball interview of pro-gun control New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg the same morning as the Keene interview, and went easy on Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Tuesday.

The full transcript of the Marco Rubio interview on Wednesday's CBS This Morning can be found at MRC.org.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center