CBS Links Lieberman Loss to 2,600 Killed, 'Infamous' Kiss Now 'Kiss of Death'

In leading Wednesday's CBS Evening News with how Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq. Smith announced: “The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home.” And a day after CBS's Trish Regan described as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address, reporter Jim Axelrod dubbed it the “kiss of death.” Over video of the embrace, with “KISS OF DEATH” on screen, Axelrod asserted: “President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary." (Partial transcript follows)

The Wednesday stories on neither ABC's Word News or the NBC Nightly News mentioned “The Kiss.”

Smith opened the August 9 CBS Evening News:
“The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home. Joseph Lieberman, once one of the most popular members of his party, still a much-respected member of the Senate, was defeated in Connecticut's Democratic primary in what became a referendum on his support for the war. Lieberman lost to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont and will now run as an independent...”
After a story from Trish Regan, Jim Axelrod began his report on the political impact, a story in which he did note that a majority oppose pulling out of Iraq if it means the insurgents will take over:
Jim Axelrod, over video of the embrace: “Call it the 'kiss of death.' President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary.”

Ned Lamont at victory rally: “We have 132,000 of our bravest troops stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war in Iraq and I'd say it's high time we bring them home to the hero's welcome!”

Axelrod: “After months of indecision, Lamont's victory could well embolden more Democrats to call for troop withdrawal...”

An August 8 NewsBusters item recounted:
Twice on Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Trish Regan labeled as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address. Regan didn't attribute the characterization to Lieberman's opponents. She stated it as fact. On the Early Show she explained over brief video of the event: "Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the President." Then on the CBS Evening News, Regan asserted over the same video: “His campaign has used images like this now infamous kiss."
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