John Dickerson hinted on Wednesday's CBS This Morning that the only radicals in the abortion debate were on the pro-life side. During a discussion about the furor over Rep. Todd Akin's recent "legitimate rape" remark, Dickerson stated that "Congressman Akin...put a highlight on the extreme end of the abortion debate."
The political director's liberal slant came in the midst of his network's 37 minutes of coverage of the Akin controversy since Monday. By contrast, CBS devoted just under 10 minutes of coverage to Vice President Joe Biden's "put y'all back in chains" smear of Republicans over a similar three-day period earlier in August, a nearly four-to-one disparity.
After Paul Ryan released his last two years of tax returns late Friday, reporters on ABC and CBS not only made sure to point out that Ryan paid a higher federal tax rate than the wealthier Mitt Romney, but also noted that he had supplied more than two years to the Romney campaign as part of the vetting process, as if to put additional pressure on Romney and Ryan that they should make more than two years public.
On August 5, Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post announced he was playing with a “somewhat controversial idea” that Mitt Romney should be the favorite to win the presidential election. Debatable, maybe. But controversial? Well, yes. It violates the pro-Obama mandate of our national press corps.
The usual political measures look terrible for Obama, he noted. “The unemployment rate has been over 8 percent for 42 straight months, a streak unparalleled in American history.” Obama must win despite the crippled economy – the most important issue for the voters.
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose and John Dickerson shamelessly defended President Obama's "you didn't build that" comments on business. Rose asserted, "If you look at the full context of that He was talking about building roads to these businesses, and they didn't build the roads."
Dickerson invoked a liberal slogan from the 1990s: "What the President was saying, is it takes a village essentially, to use a cliche from a previous campaign; that no matter what you've done, you've been helped in your life, whether it's by teachers or roads or the policeman on the corner."
On Sunday's Face The Nation, Norah O'Donnell desperately tried to find a silver lining for President Obama if the Supreme Court ends up striking down his health care law. While her fellow panelists agreed that such a decision would be a blow to Obama, O'Donnell claimed that "politically, it might be better for the President, because then he can put the onus back on the Republicans." [audio clip available here; video below the jump]
The CBS White House correspondent also hyped that "if there's a repealing of the mandate, and if the pre-existing conditions are taken out, you're probably going to see a spike in health care premiums," even though premiums have already been on the rise since ObamaCare passed in 2010.
CBS This Morning on Friday spun Mitt Romney's upcoming meeting in Utah with prominent Republicans and top fundraisers as a "secret summit." Just a week earlier, the morning newscast didn't even devote a full report to President Obama's fundraising jaunt to New York City, merely playing three soundbites on the Democrat's $40,000 per plate dinner at the home of liberal actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
Political director John Dickerson also bizarrely labeled the upcoming GOP event as "kind of a mix between a shareholders' meeting and a renewal of vows."
CBS This Morning on Tuesday heralded President Obama and former President Bill Clinton's joint fundraising appearances in New York City, playing up the "star-studded lineup" that appeared with the two. Correspondent Bill Plante gushed that Obama "shared the stage and the spotlight with former President Bill Clinton...his reputation now bathed in nostalgia as he made the case for his fellow Democrat."
Political director John Dickerson also likened Clinton to a lumbering dog throwing its weight around: "He's [Clinton] also, sort of, a big St. Bernard bounding around the political landscape, saying what he wants, and it's difficult for the Obama team to quiet him down if he says something that might be slightly off message."
On Sunday's CBS Evening News, John Dickerson candidly admitted that a failed recall attempt of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker "would be a big blow" to the unions, and that it "would be a sign to any Republican contemplating similar action to limit unions that you could survive, and Walker will become the poster child and hero of that effort." Poster child?
Dickerson predicted that there "would be a lot of infighting in Democratic circles, with unions saying the national Democratic parties and their president didn't do enough" if Walker won. But he immediately added a more sunny spin, that "it might galvanize union supporters for the presidential election, on the theory that they're under threat and they need a president who's on their side. "
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford spotlighted that "the economic and political climate today is more similar to years when incumbent presidents lost than when they won." The correspondent pointed out the similarity between polling numbers today and in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was running for reelection: "Gallup has asked voters whether they're satisfied with the way things in the country are going. Today, only 24 percent say they're satisfied. That's closest to the 20 percent low in May 1992."
Despite this, anchor Charlie Rose tried to shift the blame away from President Obama: "It looks like this is a situation where President Obama fears most the thing he cannot control, which is the economy."
Thursday's CBS Evening News and Friday's CBS This Morning spotlighted the Washington Post's reporting on the accusation that Mitt Romney supposedly bullied a high school classmate almost 50 years ago. Evening News anchor Scott Pelley trumpeted how "what [Romney] said about it today made it relevant again." Political director John Dickerson touted how "the reporting of the story seems pretty solid."
Correspondent Jan Crawford reported on the Romney issue on the evening and morning newscasts. During the Thursday report, Crawford highlighted how one former classmate of Romney's labeled the alleged incident an "assault and battery." The following morning, she did contrast the allegation with President Obama's admitted drug use during his high school years and President Clinton claiming he tried marijuana, but "didn't inhale."
Scott Pelley simply got it wrong on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, when he claimed that the Republican presidential candidates "have finally arrived in a state that was very hard hit by the great recession and has been suffering for a very long time. The unemployment rate here is about 10%." In reality, South Carolina, the state that held the last GOP primary, has about the same unemployment rate, at 9.9% [audio available here; video below the jump].
Two weeks earlier, on the January 17 edition of his CBS Evening News program, Pelley introduced a segment with John Dickerson, who was in the Palmetto State, which referenced the national unemployment rate. But neither on-air personality mentioned the specific unemployment rate inside the state:
During a segment of the CBS Evening News for January 10, East Coast viewers could see a man in the background holding up an MRC "Don't Believe the Liberal Media!" poster as anchor Scott Pelley introduced CBS News political director John Dickerson, who was live at Ron Paul's post-election rally site. [video embedded below the page break]
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's John Dickerson and Time's Joe Klein harped on Newt Gingrich's overwhelming "liabilities." Klein hinted that the former House Speaker's ego would get the better of him: "This is a guy who cannot stand prosperity....[He] cannot control his ego when he is riding high." Dickerson played up how Gingrich's "negatives were very, very high when he left Washington in the mid-'90s."
Fill-in anchor Jeff Glor asked the CBS political director, "What are the chances Newt Gingrich is the nominee?" Dickerson punted on making a prediction, but borrowed a line from colleague Jan Crawford, stating that "he has a great deal of baggage." When co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis followed up by asking about how the Obama reelection campaign saw the former Speaker, he raised the "likeability" issues with Newt:
Moments after being introduced by Face the Nation host Bob Schiiffer as a "conservative" columnist, the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker on Sunday referred to Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as a "misanthrope" - aka a mankind hater (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CBS political analyst John Dickerson might have stepped too close to calling GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain a minstrel on Tuesday's Early Show: "Now that he [Cain] is a top-tier candidate...he probably has to moderate the jester act a little bit, and show that he can...be seen by voters as a president." Dickerson was replying to Cain's recent controversial remark about an electrified border fence [audio available here].
Anchor Erica Hill brought on the political analyst to preview the next Republican presidential debate, scheduled for later in the day in Las Vegas. She raised the electric fence issue towards the end of the segment, and cited a new CNN poll which has Cain "running, really, almost neck and neck with Mitt Romney." She then asked Dickerson, "How is this going to affect him in how he deals with this question of illegal immigration moving forward?" [video clip below the jump]
CBS's Early Show was the only morning show of the Big Three networks on Monday to cover the controversy over a ranch leased by the family of Texas Governor Rick Perry that formerly used the racist "N" word in its name. Political analyst John Dickerson hinted that the Republican's presidential campaign may not "weather" the controversy, adding that "it's a real problem."
Fill-in anchor Jeff Glor led the 7 am Eastern hour of the CBS program with a teaser on the news story: "Texas Governor Rick Perry faces tough questions over a family hunting camp named with a racial slur. Fellow presidential candidate Herman Cain calls Perry 'very insensitive,' as Perry insists the word were removed decades ago." Nine minutes later, Glor labeled the issue a "race-related firestorm," as he introduced correspondent Jan Crawford's campaign 2012 round-up, which began with the story.
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.
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?"
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."
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."
Discussing the state of the Republican Party with political analyst John Dickerson on Saturday's CBS Evening News, anchor Russ Mitchell concluded: "...it has been a tough week for House Republicans." On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Meredith Vieira made an identical observation, declaring : "It has been a rough, rough week for the Republicans, to say the very least."
Mitchell explained his assertion: "Of the four bills planned for votes this week, only one passed. You also had a Republican congressman resign in a scandal." Speaking to Meet the Press host David Gregory on Friday, Vieira made the same points and wondered: "How big of a setback is this for the party?" On Saturday, Mitchell saw the possibility for more GOP difficulties: "As Republicans gear up for this budget battle with the President, do all these problems this week lead to trouble down the road?"
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."
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."
On Saturday's Early Show fill-in co-host Russ Mitchell saw passage of the tax deal as a possible "turning point for Mr. Obama's presidency" and speculated that it was "perhaps setting the stage for another victory as the Senate takes up the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law."
In the report that followed, correspondent Whit Johnson declared that with the deal "President Obama could finally declare victory." The headline on screen read: "The President's Big Win; More Success Before The Holiday Break?" Johnson explained "that after months of debate, they [Democrats] finally have the votes to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" In a report on Sunday Morning, Johnson touted the eventual repeal of the policy on Saturday as a "major victory" for Democrats.
As all the broadcast network evening newscasts on Saturday used words like "historic" and "landmark" to describe the Senate vote in favor of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on homosexuals serving in the military, the networks also provided substantially more soundbites to supporters of the measure than to those who opposed changing the policy.
On ABC, the lead report filed by correspondent David Kerley used soundbites from five supporters of lifting the ban, while only two soundbites featured opponents. Kerley began his report by quoting an unnamed "civil rights leader" calling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a "stain on our nation," and, after quoting President Obama’s statement supporting the measure, immediately highlighted a former military service member who is gay. Kerley:
"A stain on our nation has been lifted," is how one civil rights leader put it tonight, and President Obama says, quote, "No longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans just because they are gay." This Senate vote was very personal for thousands of service members. Major Mike Almy served in Iraq but was discharged when the Air Force learned he was gay. He's been battling Don't Ask, Don't Tell ever since.
CBS’s John Dickerson also brought up civil rights as he called the vote a "civil rights victory for the President," although he also uniquely used the term "liberals" to refer to some of the President’s supporters who advocated the policy change. Dickerson: " Well, it's definitely a civil rights win for him, and it’s a win politically with liberals in his party, and they’ve been angry with him. They were angry with him on this issue in particular because they felt like he wasn’t pushing hard enough.
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith made liberal reaction to President Obama's Monday announcement of a tax deal with Republicans the central focus of coverage: "Let's make a deal. President Obama and Republican leaders agree to extend Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. What did the President get in return? And will it be enough to stop any challenge from angry Democrats?"
In the later segment, little attention was given to Republican reaction to the deal. While two sound bites of the President's address on the issue were played, no Republican sound bites were featured.
Smith lamented how the deal "breaks a long-standing promise by the President." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante followed by explaining: "The President did campaign on a promise to end tax breaks for the wealthy. But he had no leverage....in order to get tax breaks for the middle class, he's had to settle for this." Plante concluded his report by declaring: "Democrats are still angry. A lot of them think that the President sold out to the Republicans."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed a potential deal between the Obama administration and House Republicans on maintaining current tax rates, declaring: "The Democrats are – their noses are out of joint about this." Political analyst John Dickerson agreed: "Very much so, because they want the President to stand up and fight."
Dickerson went on to detail liberal efforts to put pressure on Obama: "There are ads that are going to be running this weekend saying, 'Don't Cave, Mr. President.' They want Barack Obama to make a stand and say Republicans want tax cuts for the wealthy...and Democrats want tax cuts for the middle-class." He added: "But the President is making a deal and it doesn't look like it's going the way the liberals want and they are very angry."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, political analyst John Dickerson discussed President Obama's strategy against Republicans in Congress, particularly on tax cuts: "[He] said there's got to be a way to pay for it, again trying to put pressure on Republicans to say if you want to spend $700 billion, you've got to find the cuts, make them own those cuts, which are painful and might be quite unpopular."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith asked about the possibility of Obama and the GOP working together on stopping earmark spending. Again, Dickerson saw the issue as a chance for the President to go after his opponents: "...an opportunity for the President not only to get involved in the conversation but, also, to perhaps drive a bit of a wedge within the Republican caucus, they have different opinions in the Senate, Mitch McConnell has a more favorable opinion of earmarks than say some of the tea party-backed conservative candidates or some House members and the President can say, 'hey, maybe I have a chance to cause a little mischief in the Republican caucus.'"