News of the State Department report on the U.S. government’s failures surrounding the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, broke too late last night for the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, but all three broadcast networks had full reports on their Wednesday morning shows.
Of the three, ABC’s Good Morning America was the most perfunctory, with a less-than 90 second report from correspondent Martha Raddatz that completely failed to mention the controversy over the Obama administration’s preposterous initial explanation that the attack was the result of a “spontaneous” demonstration over an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.
But as detailed in the very first of the official report’s “Findings,” the determination that there was no “spontaneous” demonstration: “The Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity.”
CBS News political director John Dickerson all but crossed his fingers on Wednesday's CBS This Morning as he forwarded the idea of letting the country go over the looming fiscal cliff so President Obama could gain the political advantage: "There is an argument for actually...letting this happen. The President gets even more leverage."
Dickerson explained that "if the so-called fiscal cliff happens, taxes go up for everybody; then, you have a conversation about – not about raising taxes, but about, then, cutting taxes." So, the President and Congress will look good for supposedly cutting taxes after raising them?
In an appearance on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, the network's political director John Dickerson stopped by to briefly discuss the impact Hurricane Sandy could have on the upcoming election.
The segment was primarily focused on how the candidates will try to sensitively make up for lost time on the campaign trail, but there was an underlying question. Who stands to gain the advantage as a result?
On Friday's CBS This Morning, John Dickerson was all too eager to pour cold water on the latest Gallup daily tracking poll that has Mitt Romney with a seven-point lead over President Obama: "There is a lot of debate about that...poll - whether it lags behind where the race really is....there's also other criticisms about...the way it looks at likely voters...it's a bit of an outlier from some other polls. So, if you're Mitt Romney, you like it, but we should, with all polls, be really, really skeptical."
The CBS political director raised no such objections back in mid-September, when the morning newscast spotlighted the same poll at a point where the two candidates were in a statistical dead heat, with Obama slightly ahead among both registered voters and swing state voters.
On Friday afternoon, Joe Biden lived up to his reputation for committing gaffes, not even a day after Paul Ryan zinged the Vice President over how "sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way" during Thursday's debate. At a rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Biden claimed Planned Parenthood "under law cannot perform any abortions." In reality, the organization is the largest abortion racket in the country.
Hours later, none of the Big Three's Friday evening newscasts had covered Biden's patently false claim. But just two days earlier, these programs devoted a combined five minutes and 1 second on Wednesday to Mitt Romney's statement to The Des Moines Register that "there's no legislation with regard to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." NBC's Brian Williams mouthed the Obama campaign's spin - that "what Mitt Romney said about abortion that sure sounds like a change."
Like their colleagues on NBC's Today show, Monday's CBS This Morning forwarded a recent Politico report about supposed "turmoil inside the Romney campaign," which was stuffed with unnamed sources. Norah O'Donnell spotlighted "this finger-pointing that's going on...and whether or not they mismanaged the messaging in terms of Romney's big convention speech." John Dickerson hyped that "what's extraordinary about this, is that it's all happening in public."
O'Donnell also touted "four different national polls that show that Obama now has the lead on the issue of taxes over Romney. I mean, that has traditionally been where most people trust Republicans more than Democrats."
On Saturday's CBS This Morning, CBS assembled a panel of undecided voters and tried to take their questions about the campaign. All three of the CBS folks talking -- host Anthony Mason, political analyst John Dickerson, and CBS MoneyWatch expert Jack Otter -- agreed that the economists say that "tax increases are inevitable."
Dickerson reported Mitt Romney says no to tax increases, but insisted that if he were elected, Romney would raise taxes in one way or another as he did in Massachusetts:
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?"