On Friday's Early Show, CBS's Betty Nguyen used the Statue of Liberty as a live backdrop to play up how "visitors would miss out on the Smithsonian and its 19 museums...even the National Zoo" if the federal budget impasse leads to a government shutdown. Nguyen also highlighted that the "Cherry Blossom Festival...[is] set to wrap up this weekend, but the parade may not march on if the government shuts down."
Fill-in anchor Rebecca Jarvis introduced the correspondent's report, which ran 10 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, by outlining that the cost of a shutdown might be $8 billion a week "because there are so many government employees who won't be working, agencies that will shut down, and there are costs to restarting them, including our country's national parks, which is where we find...Betty Nguyen at Liberty State Park, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, with more on the expected impact at those locations."
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes portrayed the Tea Party movement as the cause of the budget stalemate in Congress: "With a government shutdown looming, sources say negotiators are homing in on a package of cuts worth $33 billion. That's roughly what Republican leaders proposed last month, before the Tea Party wing demanded that they double their proposal to 61 billion."
Cordes went on to note how "sniping between party leaders is escalating," which was followed by a clip of House Speaker John Boehner calling on Democrats to "have real negotiations" instead of "rooting for a government shutdown." She then remarked: "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid snapped back that it was Speaker Boehner who had been holding up negotiations, not him." In a sound bite, Reid said of Boehner: "I'm glad he's returned to the conversation. It's obvious that he has a difficult situation on his hands." Cordes added: "The situation he's talking about is the group of Tea Party freshmen Republicans who are insisting that Boehner hold firm on large cuts."
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge interviewed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and questioned President Obama's Libya policy: "...on Monday, the President said it would be a mistake to send U.S. troops to push out Qadhafi, saying quote, 'We went down that road in Iraq'...taking a shot at you and President Bush....Isn't the President being a bit hypocritical?"
Even Rumsfeld was unwilling to seize on Wragge's characterization: "Oh, I'm not sure I'd use that word." However, he went on to call for greater clarity from the administration on removing Qadhafi: "...the continued ambiguity by the President and the administration about whether or not Qadhafi will ultimately be gone is harmful....as long as the people on the ground are ambiguous as to whether or not Qadhafi's going to stay or leave, more people will be killed."
On the March 25 CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge apparently merged his nuclear terms by warning viewers of leaks of "uranium and plutanium" at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Neither he nor co-host Erica Hill ever corrected the error.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, the network did its first full segment on criticism of the Obama administration's Libya policy, with co-host Chris Wragge declaring: "As the transfer of power gets set to happen, President Obama finds himself on the hot seat over his handling of the crisis." However, the segment that followed featured no input from the President's critics.
A report by White House correspondent Chip Reid described the supposed "control shift" of military operations in the North African nation from U.S. to NATO forces but did not address significant congressional criticism. Following that report, Wragge spoke with political analyst John Dickerson about the criticism of Obama, but started the discussion by wondering if such criticism would start to diminish: "...the President's been getting a lot of criticism from both sides of the aisle from not consulting more with Congress on this, really kind of waiting for this handover to NATO right now. Does that criticism now get brushed back a little with this handover?"
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge acknowledged for the first time on the network that members of Congress were criticizing the Obama administration for failing to seek their approval on military action in Libya: "In Washington, the Speaker of the House takes on President Obama as to why he didn't talk to Congress before launching the attacks."
While that tease seemed to suggest further discussion of the criticism during the show's Libya coverage, not a single word was mentioned throughout the rest of the broadcast. If a viewer missed those six seconds they would have heard nothing of the serious questions being raised in Washington about the administration's Libya policy.
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, news reader Jeff Glor declared: "President Obama is ready for March Madness, it appears. He broke out the brackets at the White House yesterday and made his picks in the NCAA basketball tournament." However, he lamented how the commander in chief "Didn't exactly go out on a limb....For his Final Four he chose all number one seeds."
Only moments earlier, Glor received a report from correspondent Mark Phillips in Libya, who described the losing battle rebels were fighting against dictator Moammar Qadhafi. While Glor noted the United Nations was still debating the creation of a no-fly zone to aid the democratic forces, he said nothing of President Obama's unwillingness to "go out on a limb" and lead on the crisis.
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge declared: "War in Wisconsin. Democrats cry foul as Republicans break a three-week deadlock over the budget battle with a surprise late-night vote." Minutes later, he remarked that the "long standoff over a plan to roll back union rights for state workers is suddenly just about over."
In the report that followed, correspondent Cynthia Bowers described the Republican legislative move as drastic: "In an audacious tactic that will likely be debated for years in Wisconsin, Republican senators yesterday, in a matter of 30 minutes, managed to ram through controversial legislation." She continued to push the idea that it was a shock: "After nearly three weeks of intense protest that sparked a nationwide debate, last night the Wisconsin Senate rushed in to a surprise vote to cut nearly all collective bargaining power from public workers."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge introduced a story updating the John Edwards scandal and potential legal charges against the former Senator: "...a grand jury has been looking at evidence that he may have violated campaign finance laws. Now the former Democratic presidential hopeful has hired a political heavy hitter to fight off possible charges."
In the report that followed, legal correspondent Jan Crawford continued to take the focus off Edwards and place it on prominent liberal attorney Greg Craig: "Edwards has now enlisted a heavyweight...Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig has joined Edwards' team....Experts say bringing him on the case is a sign Edwards is worried about where this investigation is heading." The headline on-screen throughout the segment read: "Bracing For A Fight; John Edwards Hires Fmr. White House Counsel."
At the top of Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill proclaimed: "Tough talk. As the violence continues to escalate between rebel forces, and Moammar Qadhafi's military, President Obama sends a clear message." A sound bite was played of Obama calling on Qadhafi to step down on Thursday. In a later report, correspondent Mandy Clark claimed Obama had "drawn his line in the sand."
On the February 24 Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted the "very strong words" in the President's first public statement on the crisis. On that same broadcast, Clark claimed that Libyans "...felt encouraged that the President had come out with such strong words. They now feel that the eyes of the international community is upon Qadhafi, and that will force him to hold back on any bombing campaigns or any war crimes that he might commit."
Discussing the possibility of Newt Gingrich running for president in 2012, on Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted "big negatives" for the former House speaker: "...baggage that he brings with him...the government shutdowns back in the '90s, to being forced out as speaker, to the fact that he's on his third marriage, which is probably going to alienate some social conservatives."
Political analyst John Dickerson agreed with Wragge's assessment: "Well, some of that baggage, they're trophies. He can say, 'I fought for these principles harder than anyone else.' But as you say, the personal baggage is considerable. He's not only had multiple marriages but he is an admitted adulterer. That matters in Republican primaries, where religious voters care about that kind of thing."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted a new poll claiming people support unions over Republican plans to cut state deficits: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that a majority of Americans, 56%, are opposed to cutting the pay and benefits of state workers to balance budgets while just 37% are in favor of it."
While Wragge called them "state workers," the actual poll consistently used the phrase "public employees," never state workers or government workers. On NBC's Today on Tuesday, pollster Frank Luntz explained how one phrase invokes a positive response while the other does not. Speaking to co-host Matt Lauer about the newly released CBS poll, he noted: "If you call them 'public workers' a majority of Americans respect them. If you call them 'government workers' a majority of Americans don't." Clearly, CBS and the New York Times selected wording that would elicit a response favorable to the liberal position on the issue.
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted President Obama's statement on the violence in Libya: "...making his first public statements on the situation there with some very strong words." However, moments after Obama's Wednesday comments, liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews admitted: "...that was pretty tame language given the horror that's going on in Tripoli."
On Thursday, Early Show co-host Erica Hill spoke with correspondent Mandy Clark, who was reporting from Libya, and asked about the impact of Obama's words on the crisis: "...he was saying the suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and unacceptable. How much of President Obama's words have made it to people on the streets of Libya?" Clark claimed: "Everyone we spoke to felt encouraged that the President had come out with such strong words. They now feel that the eyes of the international community is upon Qadhafi, and that will force him to hold back on any bombing campaigns or any war crimes that he might commit."
In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge worried about the fallout from budget cutting in Wisconsin: "It seems to look like this governor [Scott Walker] is trying to basically break unions and that other states may then follow suit. Is this – should unions be on alert all around the country?"
Huckabee pointed out: "I think unions have to get realistic. They can't expect to pay $1 in and get $57 from the state as a pension match. Nobody else gets that." Earlier, Wragge expressed skepticism of Governor's Walker's handling of the issue: "...what you've seen...with the workers and the unions versus Governor Scott Walker and the teacher sick outs, do you think this was handled the best way it possibly could have been?" Huckabee defended Walker: "I think he's got to call attention to the fact that this is a serious issue....You can't borrow money that you can't afford to pay back."
Discussing the union protests in Wisconsin with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge noted: "You talk about this being a potential Tea Party movement for the Left." In response, Dickerson proclaimed: "...this is the energizing moment on the Left, progressives and unions have always been together....It's about the threat to their benefits."
It's interesting that Dickerson made a positive comparison to the Tea Party, given that last year he appeared on the Early Show and described how Democrats hoped the conservative movement would "overreach" and become "a stain on the Republican Party." On Monday, he further explained to Wragge how liberals "were a little dispirited, Barack Obama didn't turn out to be the president they had hoped. Well now they're quite energized and it's not about President Obama anymore."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge attempted to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curb costly benefits for public sector unions in his state as purely political: "Your teachers union, which votes Democratic...hit very hard. Yet your police, state trooper, firemen unions, who all supported and endorsed you, did not get touched in any of this. Why is that?" [Audio available here]
In the live interview, Walker quickly dismantled the entire premise of Wragge's attack: "Chris that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent." Wragge was undeterred in his follow up question: "But you understand their position with some of the state workers, saying you're essentially taking away their voice by trying to break these unions. You understand that, correct?"
During a report on Friday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes emphasized division in the new Republican Congress: "The prospect of a mutiny had sent Republican leaders scrambling to craft an even leaner budget, and make good on their promises to the Tea Party....Just this week, small groups of conservatives defeated two of their own party's measures on the House floor."
Cordes went on to highlight tensions at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were booed by one faction of attendees. While Donald Trump, who's toying with a presidential run in 2012, took a swipe at his fellow Republican, Congressman Ron Paul." The headline on screen throughout Cordes's report read: "GOP Power Struggle; Agree to Budget Deal After Early In-Fighting." Later in a 7:32AM ET news brief, news reader Jeff Glor similarly declared: "Republicans are closing out a week of infighting."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Michelle Miller reported on planned closures of 2,000 U.S. Post Office locations: "...in this age of digital communications, online bill paying, and Federal Express, are physical post offices still relevant?" She seemed to answer her own question: "Folks are not going to let this go down without a fight...It's what makes their community whole."
During her report, Miller explained how the government subsidized organization had "a record deficit this year of $8.5 billion, the Postal Service loses a staggering $23 million a day and is facing a growing number of problems." Even so, she played on the emotions of viewers, interviewing an elderly New Jersey man named Harold Schutzman, who explained: "[I] got a friend there at the desk, Gary. I can't get into the paying by e-mail."
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill cheered President Obama's supposedly pro-business move of speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday: "Obama's olive branch. The President reaches out into hostile territory and meets with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urging the private sector to start hiring."
Introducing the later report on the speech, co-host Chris Wragge touted the event as Obama's continued "effort to make peace with big business," despite the Chamber being "a group that he has battled ever since he took office." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante noted how "Mr. Obama pledged to work on lowering federal spending, revising the corporate tax code, and eliminating some federal regulations." What the coverage failed to point out was that 43 major new regulations were imposed by the Obama administration in 2010.
Speaking to physicist Michio Kaku on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge fretted over the recent series of severe winter storms and wondered: "...nine storms in seven weeks, why is this happening?...a lot of people want to talk about global warming and thinking that that may actually come into play here. Is that accurate? Is that having an effect on what's going on?"
Dr. Kaku agreed with the suggestion: "Yes. It seems to violate common sense, but as the Earth begins to heat up, that means more moist air in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico on average. Which creates more precipitation, and eventually more snow." Wragge followed up: "Is this going to continue?" Kaku argued: "...on average, temperatures are going to rise. Remember, last year was the hottest year ever recorded in the history of science, next to 2005, since 1880. So the Earth is heating up. We can debate exactly what's driving it. But, hey, get used to it. We're going to have more energy sloshing around the Earth, more extremes, and swings."
At the top of the 7:30AM ET half hour on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge happily proclaimed: "After 130 years, [Thomas] Edison's invention is basically being phased out....The government is replacing the incandescent bulb with a much more energy efficient light."
Wragge portrayed the government ban as a new "choice" for consumers: "Consumers will now have a choice of two different kinds of bulbs, the CFL and LED and we're going to tell you the difference and which one is better for you, which one's going to be a little more cost effective." Co-host Erica Hill lamented: "It's a tough transition....It's hard to let go." Wragge reassured her: "Well, we're going to hopefully make that process a little easier for you." Hill concluded: "It's been a good run, Thomas Edison."
At the top of Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge cheered President Obama's recent Q & A on YouTube: "Obama opens up. The President answers YouTube questions on everything from the war in Afghanistan to the Super Bowl. We'll go live to the White House for the latest on his version of the Fireside Chat."
While Frankin Roosevelt used his famous radio 'Fireside Chats' to keep the American people informed on public policy during the Great Depression, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante touted how with Obama, "the questions were less political and more personal. Like, what's he giving Michelle for Valentine's Day?" Another important topic of discussion: "He was asked his pick to win the Super Bowl. Mr. Obama is running for re-election and he went with the politically safe answer."
Talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer on Wednesday's Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge saw efforts to repeal ObamaCare as a political liability: "How risky a proposition is this for Republicans incoming now?" Schieffer dismissed it as, "a lot of shouting, hollering, and symbolic votes," adding, "we've got a couple of months before anything really serious is going to happen."
Wragge went on to cite liberal New York Times writer Matt Bai, who claimed Republicans had no real political mandate despite extensive victories in November: "Once you win, the human tendency is to credit the gravitational force of your own ideas, to assume that you made a more compelling and more substantive case than you actually did." Wragge asked Schieffer: "Is that what we may see in the early days from the Republican leadership here, do you think?"
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante warned that as President Obama returns from vacation, " the new Republican majority in the House is ready to pounce." Plante went on to declare that the House GOP "slammed" Obama by scheduling a vote to repeal "his signature health care bill" on January 12.
Plante parroted Democratic talking points denouncing the repeal effort: "Senate Democrats fired back in a letter, warning that to do so would be 'irresponsible and reckless at a time when it is becoming harder and harder for seniors to afford a healthy retirement.'" He then concluded: "Both sides know that the House vote is purely symbolic. With no chance that the Senate Democrats will agree to kill health care."
In the wake of Virginia Thomas requesting an apology from Anita Hill, on Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge used the story to raise questions about Thomas's political involvement: "That phone call is bringing up new scrutiny upon Virginia Thomas, who is not just an angry spouse but also a long-time advocate of conservative causes."
In the report that followed, CBS chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford implied that since Virginia Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas her conservative activism in a conflict of interest: "She has long advocated for conservative causes....she formed a grassroots conservative group called Liberty Central and has spoken at tea party conventions....Critics have raised questions about her role in the group as the wife of a sitting Justice, and Mrs. Thomas, not one to suppress her opinions, has felt the heat."
On the September 11th Saturday Early Show, CBS News Middle East analyst Reza Aslan slammed opponents of the Ground Zero mosque as having "unapologetically politicized" 9/11 and being part of a "whole wave of anti-Muslim sentiment."
While he denounced others for trying to "take advantage of this symbol for their own political purposes," Aslan made his comments only seconds after live coverage of the first moment of silence for victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Co-host Chris Wragge accepted Aslan's characterization of the controversy and responded: "...this is not an opportunity to add controversy into the mix. If there's one day, you know what, to keep our mouths quiet and let's just reflect on the lives lost, today is it, you don't mess with that."
Aslan followed up by admitting: "I'll be honest with you, I hope that there is kind of a backlash against what's going on right now. As you know, at 1pm today there'll be a rally in support of the so-called Park 51 project, at 3pm there'll be this international rally against it. So, I'm hoping that Americans all over the country see these images and think we've gone too far."
He later specifically condemned mosque opponents: "...particularly in the case of this sort of international anti-Islam rally that's being brought by this group called Stop Islamization of America. And they're inviting all these European anti-Muslim politicians in to speak. I mean, that's really now taking this to a whole other level."
ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's Early Show on Thursday both speculated as to whether the stabbing of a New York City cabbie was prompted by a climate of anti-Islamic anger. At the same time, GMA and NBC's Today both ignored the fact that the attacker, Michael Enright, volunteered for a charity supporting the mosque.
ABC's Jeremy Hubbard wondered if the violence was "proof the rhetoric surrounding the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero has created a heightened fear and prejudice against Muslims." Early Show's Chris Wragge bluntly asserted, "And this ongoing debate may have led to a brutal anti-Muslim attack here in New York City."
However, only CBS's Elaine Quijano pointed out this salient piece of information: "Now, as for Michael Enright, he had volunteered for a group that promotes interfaith dialogue. The group Intersections International has supported the controversial cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero."
Opening Saturday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge proclaimed: "Image Problem: The President is on vacation and under fire. From the jobless numbers to the Mosque mess – why is the man with the soaring rhetoric having such a hard time getting his message across?" The headline on screen during the later segment read: "Image Issues; Can Obama's Team Bring Campaign Magic Back?"
Introducing the segment, co-host Rebecca Jarvis referred to "conservative critics" taking issue with President Obama's vacation time on Martha's Vineyard. In a report that followed, White House correspondent Chip Reid made sure to parrot administration talking points on the matter: "White House advisers stress that this is a working vacation with numerous daily briefings....White House officials say they're confident the American people understand that with such a high-pressure job, a President needs and deserves some time to unwind and recharge."
Reid also compared Obama's time-off with that of his predecessor: "By the end of this trip, President Obama will have taken 9 vacations and visited Camp David 14 times for a total of 80 vacation days since he took office. But at the same point in his first term, President Bush had taken far more time away – 14 trips to his Ranch in Texas and 40 to Camp David. The total, 225 days." During Obama's earlier trip to Maine, Reid made the same comparison.
While teasing an upcoming report on President Obama campaigning for Democrats on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge touted: "...plunging poll numbers haven't stopped the President from raking in millions at fund raisers across the country."
Later, White House correspondent Chip Reid observed: "You know, the President's approval rating is only 44%, but he is still quite popular with the party's base and he's using that clout to raise millions of dollars for fellow Democrats." Reid went on to declare: "President Obama and the Democratic Party are managing to raise big bucks in the hope of retaining control of Congress. The Democratic National Committee is committing $50 million to help candidates in 2010, $20 million in cash, and $30 million to get out the vote."
A campaign sound bite was played of the President attacking Republicans: "We do not fear the future. We shape the future. That's part of what this election's about. The other side wants you to be afraid of the future." Reid concluded: "President Obama is doing six fund-raisers over three days in five states. By week's end, he'll have raised over $56 million this campaign season."
Only at the end of his report did Reid briefly notice the money raised by the GOP: "Now, Republicans are also raking in the cash this campaign season. The Republican Governors Association, for example, has brought in $58 million since President Obama came into office."
Near the end of an interview with Arizona Senator John McCain on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to the subject of illegal immigration and the new Arizona law to combat it: "a very tough immigration reform bill which basically makes it illegal for you to be in the state without some sort of documentation. Is this law the answer to the immigration crisis?"
McCain noted the number of illegal immigrants entering Arizona and the level of drug trafficking taking place: "Across the Tucson sector of Arizona last year, there was 241,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants....1.3 million pounds of marijuana intercepted on the Tucson border just last year." Smith followed up by wondering: "And for the millions of Hispanic Americans who live in Arizona, what do you say to them who feel like this bill is purely discriminatory?"
In a news brief on the topic at the top of the 8AM ET hour, fill-in news reader Betty Nguyen described how: "The Obama administration and activists are considering legal challenges to Arizona's new immigration enforcement law, which has reignited a national debate." A series of signs from an immigration protest in San Francisco appeared on screen: "Latinos Today, Who's Next? Shame on Arizona;" "Boycott Arizona;" "Brown Is Not A Crime."As footage of the protest rolled, Nguyen explained: "The law makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant." On Monday, an MSNBC headline made the same odd statement.