CBS Overwhelmingly Sides With Pro-Gun Control Voices 11-2 After Senate Votes
CBS lined up gun control supporters on Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning. Chip Reid and Major Garrett played 11 soundbites from President Obama and other Democrats, as well as family members of the Newtown massacre victims. The only gun rights supporter that the two correspondents could find was Chuck Grassley. Reid played two clips from the Republican senator during his reports.
Reid led his second report by hyping how "forces opposed to gun control proved that they are still in control here in Washington". Garrett sounded like a stenographer for the White House as he reported on the "somber and frustrated" President's press conference after the Senate votes.
Anchor Scott Pelley led the Wednesday evening newscast with the "major breaking story out of Washington" – that the U.S. Senate had "scuttled" gun control legislation. Pelley wasted little time before playing the first clip from Obama decrying the rejection of the gun control legislation as "a pretty shameful day for Washington", and added that "opponents of gun control are elated by the decision."
Reid then outlined that the Senate votes were a "major defeat" for gun control supporters, and echoed Pelley's earlier language about opponents: "It was a resounding victory for the powerful National Rifle Association and its supporters." The CBS journalist continued with a clip from Senator Grassley, but followed it with two sound bites from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who sponsored one of the gun control proposals. He ended his first report by reading a statement from another liberal politician: "Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said today, 'This is the saddest day of his years in public life.'"
Pelley then turned to Garrett, whose report consisted largely of clips from the President's news conference:
MAJOR GARRETT: Scott, somber and frustrated, President Obama said the gun control debate will not end because the Senate could not muster 60 votes for expanded background checks. He stood, as you said, with some of the Sandy Hook families. Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel in that mass shooting, spoke first and said Washington has not heard the last of this issue.
MARK BARDEN, SANDY HOOK VICTIM'S FATHER (from White House press conference): We'll return home now – disappointed, but not defeated. We return home with a determination that change will happen – maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon. We've always known this would be a long road, and we don't have the luxury of turning back. We will keep moving forward and build public support for common-sense solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, and gun safety.
GARRETT (voice-over): With his wife and two surviving children beside him, Barden spoke of his son Daniel, and recited what is known in Newtown as the Sandy Hook promise.
BARDEN: Our hearts are broken. Our spirit is not.
GARRETT: President Obama said the legislation's failure was due to fear-mongering and misinformation.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of Big Brother gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry – plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn't matter.
GARRETT: The President questioned what the gun lobby will gain from keeping things as they are now.
OBAMA: I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. My question is, a victory for who – a victory for what? All that happens today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn't make our kids safer.
GARRETT (on-camera): The President placed phone calls to senators on this issue, Scott, yesterday and this morning – even amid briefings on the latest on the Boston Marathon bombings. The White House says the President will not let this issue die, and will keep faith with those families who want him and this White House to keep pressing.
The former Fox News correspondent didn't play one clip from a gun rights supporter. Instead, Pelley read excerpts from a statement from the NRA after Garrett's report:
SCOTT PELLEY: Late today, the National Rifle Association called this gun control legislation 'misguided', and said the provision for tougher background checks would – quote, 'have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens requiring lifelong friends, neighbors, and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution'.
The following morning, Reid filed a second report on the Senate votes and on the President's news conference. He played an abridged version of his Grassley soundbite, but also included four clips from gun control supporters as well.
The CBS correspondent again pointed out the extent the chief executive's loss on the gun control issue: "The defeat was a big blow to the President and his Senate allies, including Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal." Earlier, anchor Norah O'Donnell introduced the correspondent's report by noting the "huge setback in Congress yesterday for President Obama."
The three CBS reports are only slightly less biased than ABC's Wednesday evening and Thursday morning coverage of the gun control developments. Correspondent Jonathan Karl didn't include any soundbites from gun rights supporters during his reports on World News and Good Morning America.
The full transcripts of Chip Reid's reports from Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning can be read at MRC.org.