CBS's Norah O'Donnell played the role of a clairvoyant on Tuesday's Early Show as she hinted that President Obama's reelection is assured in 2012. Anchor Erica Hill asked O'Donnell how the White House viewed the debt ceiling bill. She replied, "I think they feel like this was... not necessarily a victory for the President. He did get an extension of this debt ceiling through 2012 and through his reelection" [video clips available here; audio can be downloaded here].
Hill brought on the new CBS News White House correspondent, as well as Nancy Cordes, their congressional correspondent, to discuss the return of Rep. Gabby Giffords to the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday and their passage of the compromise debt ceiling legislation. Towards the end of the segment, after she and O'Donnell laughed it up about Vice President Biden's crack about Giffords being part of the "cracked heads club," the anchor asked her question about the White House's take on the bill. Her colleague replied with her off-the-cuff prediction:
CBS's Michelle Miller leaned towards supporters of taxing junk food on Tuesday's Early Show, playing three sound bites from them and none from opponents. Miller only made one vague reference to the opposing side, and she immediately followed it by playing up the supposedly positive result of a tax: "While some say a new tax is the last thing we need, it could mean a healthier America."
The correspondent led her report by hyping how "we're paying quite a hefty toll" for creating "cheap fast food," and launched into her first sound bite, which came from Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the perennial "food police" organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
[Update, 11:10 am Monday July 18: Jenn Theis was identified on-screen by CBS as a "laid-off government worker." She wrote us to clarify that she was actually employed by a private business that is regulated by the Minnesota racing commission. Another guest from that segment, Chris Lapakko, wrote the author on Twitter on Saturday to call him a "dick."]
CBS turned to three Minnesota residents on Friday's Early Show for their take on the recent state government shutdown there, but their panel had a definite slant, as two out of three were state government workers, with one of them calling for "taxes on millionaires...to help the rest of us out." The third Minnesotan called on both sides to work it out. None of the three were clear conservatives.
Anchor Erica Hill interviewed Jenn Theis, Chris Lapakko, and Harley Reed during a segment 40 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, as they were sitting in a diner in Minneapolis. Hill first turned to Ms. Theis, who was identified on-screen as a "laid-off government worker," and asked her some softball questions about whether she was getting her job back and her feelings about the tentative resolution of the state budget impasse. The journalist also mentioned that the state employee has "gone through two weeks of no pay" and has a 13-month-old child.
CBS hounded four Republicans from the left during a town hall on the economy which aired on Tuesday's Early Show. Bob Schieffer, Erica Hill, and Rebecca Jarvis pressed Reps. Paul Ryan and Allen West, Senator Tom Coburn, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to consider tax hikes to deal with the deficit. Schieffer also specifically accused the three members of Congress of "doing nothing" to fix the economy.
The two online questions which Jarvis took from viewers touted Democratic talking points about deficits under former President George W. Bush and how cutting the federal budget would lead to an increase in the unemployment rate, due to the laying off of federal employees. She also vigorously pursued both Rep. Ryan and Rep. West. about the issue of jobs. In the first instance, the CBS business correspondent used an earlier answer from Haley, which emphasized the issue, to actually accuse the greater Republican Party of not paying enough attention to this issue, as well with the overall issue of the economy:
The morning shows on Tuesday used loaded terms to describe Monday's Republican presidential debate. According to Good Morning America's John Berman, it was a "two-hour race to out-bash the President." On the Today show, Chuck Todd sniffed that "much of the affair was an anti-Obama sound bite contest."
CBS's Early Show proved to be more mild. Co-host Erica Hill recounted, "Attacking Obama. The top Republican candidates for President face off in their first debate, but instead of going after each other, they took dead aim at the President."
On Tuesday's Early Show, CBS's Erica Hill pressed Andrew Breitbart over the Shirley Sherrod issue, highlighting how he "never apologized to her." Hill and reporter Joel Brown noted the "multi-million dollar defamation suit" Sherrod filed against Breitbart and turned to a journalist who touted how the blogger is "very defensive about his credibility and...realizes that he has these strikes against him."
Brown's report preceded the anchor's interview of the conservative at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. The correspondent trumpeted how "right-wing commentator Andrew Breitbart has six political websites, whose goal is to quote, 'hold the mainstream media's feet to the fire.' He certainly got their attention when he posted this now-infamous picture of Congressman Weiner on BigGovernment.com seven days ago."
CBS's Erica Hill hounded newly-announced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday's Early Show about his 2008 proposal to allow the Big Three auto companies to go into bankruptcy proceedings instead of bailing them out: "Based on what we've seen in the auto industry, weren't you wrong in this case?" By contrast, her co-anchor, Chris Wragge, went easier on DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Hill interviewed Romney just after the top of the 8 am Eastern hour. After an initial question about his 2008 Republican primary loss to Senator John McCain, the CBS anchor raised the former Massachusetts governor's two-plus-year-old proposal and, like her colleague Dean Reynolds did earlier in the broadcast, touted the apparent success of the Obama administration's bailout of Detroit:
CBS's Erica Hill strongly hinted on Monday's Early Show that Sarah Palin's "extended flirtation...with running" for president and speaking only to Fox News to the detriment of the rest of the media would sour her with the voters. Hill asked former Mitt Romney aide Kevin Madden, "Does any of this risk though rubbing voters the wrong way?"
The anchor brought on Madden and former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart to discuss the former Alaska governor and the rest of the possible and actual 2012 presidential field for the Republican Party. After the Republican strategist agreed to a large extent with Hill in his answer to this question, she turned to Lockhart for his left-of-center view: "From a Democratic standpoint, if Sarah Palin jumped into the race, how do you think that would work out for President Obama?"
In reply, the former Clinton mouthpiece regurgitated a common liberal talking point about Palin:
All three morning shows on Monday bombarded Tim Pawlenty with a variety of liberal complaints and demands. ABC and NBC singled out an Obama-supporting "Republican" who slammed the presidential candidate's fiscal management of Minnesota. CBS repeatedly lobbied Pawlenty to raise taxes.
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos identified ex-Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson as "one of your Republican predecessors." He quoted Carlson as saying, "I don't think any governor has left behind a worse financial mess than Pawlenty has." Stephanopoulos made no mention of the fact that Carlson endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 or that he was officially expelled from the Minnesota GOP in December of 2010.
On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer highlighted the same statement and described Carlson simply as "a former Republican Governor of the State of Minnesota." He challenged, "This is a Republican saying that. How do you respond?"
On Friday's Early Show, CBS called upon Clinton administration alumnus Jamie Rubin to act as a flack for the current Obama White House and to comment on the President's speech on the Middle East. Rubin lamented the President's poor approval rating in Israel: "Unfortunately- and this is unfortunate for everyone, I think...Obama doesn't have the huge popularity in Israel that, perhaps, President Bush had."
Anchor Erica Hill brought on the husband of ABC host Christiane Amanpour and first identified him as "Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, who is now executive editor of the Bloomberg View [the new opinion section of Bloomberg News] " However, she failed to mention at any point in the interview that Rubin served under former President Clinton, unlike Nicholas Burns, who appeared later in the program. Hill clearly identified him as "undersecretary of state under President George W. Bush."
CBS gave President Obama over 26 and a half minutes to answer 12 questions related to the economy during a town hall aired on Thursday's Early Show. Obama got six uninterrupted minutes to answer one question about Medicare during the hour-long event. Host Erica Hill wondered how the Democrat could "change the mind-set from things are tough to things are turning around" with the economy.
Hill led the town hall with her concerned economic "mind-set" question, noting beforehand that "it seems that we have been hearing, whether it's on TV, at the office, around the kitchen table, things are tough," but continuing that "there's positive economic data coming through. Yet, sometimes it can feel like for every two steps forward, it's one step back. There's definitely a psychological component to this recovery."
CBS announced on Friday its plans for a "special town hall meeting on the economy" featuring President Obama. Network personalities Bob Schieffer and Erica Hill will host the event. This announcement comes just over a month after the Democrat officially started his reelection campaign, and on the same week that the President's approval ratings on the economy reached a new low according to a CBS News poll.
The network's release also noted that "CBS News is making preparations for a Town Hall next month with leading Republicans about the economy," but didn't reveal whether these were going to be some of the GOP presidential contenders or any of the various members of Congress or governors in the party.
The broadcast evening news anchors all got ten minutes with President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon in New York City to press him about contradictions in his Libya policy, ceding authority for foreign entities and how he’s a hypocrite after his criticism of President Bush for unilateral actions and not getting congressional approval, but instead they simply prodded him to provide arms to the rebels and pushed him to take action in Syria.
But ABC’s Diane Sawyer stood out for her obsequiousness as the Kentucky native ended by giddily bringing up the college basketball tournament: “How much do you think Kentucky will win by?” Before that, she cued him up to agree he’s as burdened as Abraham Lincoln:
What about the famous quote from another beleaguered President, Abraham Lincoln, who said he had been driven many times to his knees because his own wisdom and that around him “was insufficient for the day”?
Appearing on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, Newsweek senior writer Andrew Romano touted a survey in the magazine's latest issue showing that 38% of Americans failed the U.S. citizenship test and claimed to know the cause: "One of the big ones is income inequality in the United States. We're one of the most in-equal societies in the developed world."
Romano argued to co-host Erica Hill: "When people don't have a lot of money, there's a difficulty getting a good education, there's a lack of opportunity and a lack of knowledge. That's one of the reasons why we don't do as well as northern European countries, sometimes on these surveys." Hill observed: "So it's really a question of access." Romano replied: "It is. It's a big problem."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, contributor Taryn Winter Brill touted a new University of Pennsylvania study on the influence of breakfast cereal cartoon characters on children: "Previous research has shown how these images influence children's selections, but now a new study reveals they also influence how the kids think the cereal actually tastes."
In the report that followed, Brill described how marketing campaigns "target" kids to sell unhealthy sugary cereals: "Breakfast cereal is a $10 billion a year business and competition is fierce...especially among children's cereal....They target kids with cartoon characters, in commercials and on boxes, that practically reach from store shelves to grab your kid's attention." The headline on screen during the segment read: "Cereal Offenders; Cartoon Images Affect Kids' Taste Perception."
Tuesday's CBS Early Show featured a fawning story on President Obama's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge that sounded like it was written by the White House communications department. What the segment failed to mention was the severe lack of high schools that had actually entered the contest to have Obama speak at their graduation ceremonies.
Co-host Erica Hill teased the story at the top of the 8:30AM ET half hour and portrayed the program as a great success: "More than a thousand high schools tried to get President Obama to deliver their commencement address at last year's graduation. No easy feat to get the President to your high school....how high schools around the country can compete for that honor and a visit from the President again this year." She left out the fact that this year the White House was having tremendous difficulty attracting a similar level of interest.
In an interview with former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill wondered if higher gas prices in the wake of Mideast unrest were the result of some sort of fraud: "We've seen prices skyrocket....Is the public right to feel taken advantage of in some ways here, or even scammed?"
Even the liberal Reich didn't accept the premise: "Well look, a lot of this is supply and demand. The country can feel a certain sense of taken advantage of. But some of this is the demand that's coming from China. I mean, you have developing nations all over the world....And their oil needs are very high. And so they are also putting pressure on oil prices. It's not just the Middle East."
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."
ABC and NBC touted the Obama administration's new report on women by leading their evening news shows with it on Tuesday. Diane Sawyer gushed over the "huge new report," while NBC's Savannah Guthrie trumpeted the "first comprehensive White House report on women since...Kennedy asked Eleanor Roosevelt to lead a study." CBS also highlighted the report on Evening News and on The Early Show the next day.
NBC's Brian Williams, during his introduction to correspondent Savannah Guthrie's report, proclaimed how "the White House reported some new numbers today about women in this country, and while, in many ways, women continue to pass men by, an old problem is just as bad, just as serious, and it continues to hold women back economically." After noting the gains by women in terms of college attendance, Williams continued that the problem was "the pay gap in the workplace, and that hasn't changed."
Guthrie began with her Eleanor Roosevelt line, and continued that the report "paints a portrait of a modern woman- less June Cleaver, more Liz Lemon" (Tina Fey's character from "30 Rock"). She then spouted some of the figures from the Obama administration document:
While even the liberal National Public Radio blog highlighted how the "U.S. Struggles to Evacuate; Others Don't" in Libya, on Saturday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Harry Smith gave the effort high marks: "If they were handing out a report card, as far as the embassy is concerned, it would be an A+." [Audio available here]
Co-host Rebecca Jarvis implied some displeasure with the evacuation in her question to Smith: "How do the Americans that you're talking to feel about the job that the U.S. embassy did throughout the ordeal in getting them to safety?" Smith dismissed any criticism of the government response: "There's so much anti-government sentiment in America about how different parts of the bureaucracy respond to things....the way that everything was handled was just absolutely impeccable."
In an interview with the Democratic minority leader of the Wisconsin state senate on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill proposed a solution to the political stalemate over curbing benefits for public union workers in the state, suggesting Democrats "work together" with "more moderate Republicans" to "come to some sort of agreement that could then put pressure on the Governor."
Minority Leader Mark Miller eagerly agreed: "Absolutely. I think cooler heads need to prevail....There is such a thing as compromise. The Governor needs to be part of that." Earlier, Hill had explained that: "There's been a proposal put forth by moderate Republicans in the state which would effectively take those collective bargaining rights away [from teachers unions], but only for two years, it would bring them back in 2013." To which Miller remarked: "Well, the problem is, is that the Governor has to agree. And the Governor has not done anything except insist...it has to be his way. All or nothing. And the Governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy, and in a democracy, you negotiate."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on all three morning shows, Wednesday, but only Meredith Vieira on the Today show seemed to assume a second term for Clinton's boss, Barack Obama. After questioning how long she'd stay in the job, the NBC co-anchor wondered, "Do we expect any time soon that you are planning to retire like defense Secretary Gates?...How about the second term?"
On CBS's Early Show, Erica Hill also asked Clinton about her future plans, but simply noted that the Secretary of State planned on staying "at least through this first term."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, after reporting claims from Ron Reagan Jr. that President Ronald Reagan may have had Alzheimer's Disease while in office, co-host Erica Hill asked other son Michael Reagan about those accusations: "And your brother has said this is just his own feeling....Could it be possible there may have been something else? Could he [President Reagan] have had dementia?"
Michael rejected the notion: "No, he didn't have dementia. Look what he accomplished in the last four years of his presidency. Reykjavik, START agreements, all the things he accomplished. The speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987 on June 12th. Look what he accomplished in those last four years. Someone with dementia does not accomplish all of those things." He went on to say of his brother: "...we don't even know in the family if Ron voted for his father back in 1981 or in 1984 when he ran for President."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill noted President Obama "calling for a little bit of a detente" in the wake of the Tucson shooting and wondered, "is this civility going to last?" Political analyst John Dickerson argued: "There will be one small test next week as House Republicans bring up the repeal of the health care bill."
Dickerson criticized the name of the repeal legislation: "What used to be called the 'Job-Killing Health Care Bill,' which now of course has – operates in a much different context." Hill followed up: "Can the President make that, I guess, good will, for lack of a better word, last past the State of the Union in a couple of weeks?" Dickerson asserted: "Health care will be a bit of a sideshow because it won't really go anywhere after the House does it its work on that bill. But on the budget, on lifting the debt ceiling, on some of these other issues, there will have to be actual cooperation."
On Tuesday's Early Show, correspondent Ben Tracy acknowledged that the facts in the Tuscon shooting do not support media spin that the tragedy was incited by right-wing political rhetoric: "Authorities tell CBS News that Loughner's attack on Congresswoman Giffords' was not partisan, but more likely because he was anti-government in general and she was a symbol of it."
Minutes later, co-host Erica Hill reported on a new CBS News poll on the shooting: "The Sheriff [Clarence Dupnik] investigating the shootings in Arizona has publicly blamed the extreme political rhetoric across this country for the tragedy....A majority of Americans, however, don't necessarily agree that's the case....57% of respondents don't believe the harsh tone had anything to do with the shootings. Just 32% say it did." At the top of the 8:00AM ET hour, news reader Jeff Glor again touted the new poll: "...there's more debate over whether a heated political atmosphere played a role....most Americans reject that idea."
Reporting on the political fallout of the Tucson shooting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: "Now some are questioning whether the increasingly angry tone in politics could have contributed to a culture of violence."
Cordes noted how "members of Congress took their soul searching public, Sunday," followed by sound bites of two Democrats lamenting heated political rhetoric. Cordes observed: "Look no further than recent campaign ads....Filled with images and rhetoric that would once have been considered off limits." Two clips were played as examples, the first from West Virginia Democratic Governor and then Senate candidate Joe Manchin, going after his own party, using a rifle to shoot a bullet through proposed Cap and Trade legislation. Cordes failed to identify Manchin as a Democrat. The other ad was from Alabama Tea Party candidate Rick Barber, with a depiction of Thomas Jefferson calling on conservatives: "Gather your armies."
Friday's CBS Early Show praised the pick of former Commerce Secretary William Daley as the new chief of staff for the Obama White House, with senior White House correspondent Bill Plante proclaiming: "While Daley has long ties to the Democratic Party, he's viewed as a centrist whose Wall Street connections should help him with the newly divided Congress."
Following Plante's report, co-host Erica Hill got reaction from former George W. Bush adviser Dan Bartlett and wondered: "As you look at this appointment of Bill Daley....coming over from Chase, he sits on a number of corporate boards. Is the message from the White House essentially not only that the White House is open for, but also open to, business this morning?" Bartlett replied: "I really think that is the clear message. If you take this, coupled with the tax compromise they made at the end of last year, it is sending an important signal."
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes derided Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare: "On Friday, they begin their assault on health care reform, with a vote to repeal the law scheduled for next week."
Cordes noted how repeal "will hit a wall in the Senate," observing: "That legislative reality will force both sides to work together on some issues, something Speaker Boehner promised to Democrats." However, moments later she touted Democratic accusations of GOP partisanship: "Democrats are already crying foul, saying that that vote to repeal health care is being held without holding hearings first, without allowing amendments, a move that they argue flies in the face of all those promises of openness."
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."
Reporting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes decried House Republicans attempting to repeal ObamaCare: "...they made it clear they'll try to use their 49-vote advantage to wipe out key Democratic legislation from 2010. Including the President's signature achievement, health care reform."
Following Cordes's report, co-host Erica Hill asked political analyst John Dickerson about the likelihood of repeal. After Dickerson explained that repeal could not pass, a relieved Hill declared: "So, folks who like it may not have to worry about it? Because there are certain provisions that have actually gone over well with a fair number of Americans. Things like keeping your adult children on you're insurance and of course those lifetime coverage limits." Dickerson agreed: "And new things that people will like are coming on line with the new year. Middle income seniors will see – get some relief in the prescription drug prices."
On Sunday's Face the Nation, substitute host Harry Smith dismissed GOP goals of "dismantling health care" as merely a "fool's errand."