On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell pressed Senator Joe Manchin about a possible new push for gun control in Congress. Rose wondered how Manchin and his allies could make legislation "more palatable to those people who may be afraid of it", while O'Donnell bluntly asked the Democrat, "Are you frustrated with the NRA?"
Manchin was their only guest on the gun issue. The CBS anchors had an opportunity to provide balance by asking Senator Bob Corker about his support for gun rights. Instead, Rose and Gayle King peppered the Republican with questions about his recent game of golf with President Obama: "Do you pull out all of the stops to beat him, or do you think, he's the President – I'm going to let him win this one?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
O'Donnell and Rose spent the majority of the Manchin segment on how he might reintroduce his firearms regulations in the Senate. The PBS veteran first asked, "What is possible, in your judgment, to get [gun control] passed through the Senate?" When the West Virginia politician initially replied, "I truly believe the background check bill is possible to get passed", Rose interrupted his guest mid-answer and stated, "But not the one that failed last time." The CBS journalist followed up with his "more palatable" question.
Later in the segment, O'Donnell pointed out that "there was just a huge NRA convention over the weekend in Houston, where the new president of the NRA, Jim Porter, said that this expanded push for background checks is an all-out revenge on gun owners. There was a lot of rhetoric about your bill at this convention." Manchin asserted that his bill "treats a law-abiding gun owner – like myself, and a lot of my friends in the NRA...the way they should be treated, as a law-abiding gun owner." The anchor then asked her "are you frustrated with the NRA" question.
Almost an hour later, the CBS morning show brought on Senator Corker, and led with two consecutive questions about his golf outing with the President, before moving onto the issue of the civil war in Syria. However, King had to get in one more question about the bipartisan trip to the greens at the end of the interview. Overall, they asked three questions about golf, versus two on Syra:
CHARLIE ROSE: So, what did you learn about the President from his golf game, and what did you learn about what he intends to do? (Rose and Norah O'Donnell laugh)
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE: Well, you know, it was mostly golf. He was easy to be around, and candidly, it was a lot of fun. And obviously, Saxby's [Chambliss] hole-in-one on 11 was – was just perfect. It was – it was a great day. It really was.
ROSE: So, what did you shoot, and what did the President shoot?
CORKER: You know, we had to stop on number 15 because we had votes on the Senate floor, unfortunately. We tried to get the President to put them off. But in any event, we all played well. The President played well. He was good to be around – and everybody did. I think they've announced publicly – we don't say much about these things – but Saxby and I took a little money off of him. (Rose and O'Donnell laugh) So, it was good.
NORAH O'DONNELL: There was betting involved. Well, Senator, I want to ask you about Secretary of State [John] Kerry, who arrives in Moscow this morning. You're on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Do you think that this administration needs to move further, in terms of arming the opposition [in Syria]? What's next?
[CBS News Graphic: "Crisis In Syria: Senator Corker On Arming The Rebels"]
CORKER: I do think we'll be arming the opposition shortly. We're doing a lot more there on the ground than really is known, but we do have to change the equation. I think you all know the moderate opposition groups that we support are not as good at fighting. They're not as good at delivering humanitarian aid, and we need to change the balance. And they need to be reaching out to the Alawite population that supports Assad. I think if we can cause that to happen, Russia will be far more open to some kind of political resolve, where – where Assad is removed. But we – we've got to change the balance there, and I do think we'll be arming the rebels soon.
ROSE: And can you do that without those weapons falling into the hands-
CORKER: Well, you know, a lot of it, Charlie, at this point is actually – it's almost symbolic. I mean, we have the extremists, as you know. A nightmare would be al-Nusra, if you will, gaining control of Syria. That's worse than Assad being there. So, I think we can. We've known for a long time which of the groups are more moderate and more secular. You never have total control. But I think it's time for us to begin changing the balance, and I think that's the right way to do it.
GAYLE KING: Senator, before you go, when you played President – when you played golf with the President of the United States, do you pull out all of the stops to beat him, or do you think, he's the President – I'm going to let him – I'm going to let him win this one? (O'Donnell laughs)
CORKER: You know, I've got to be honest: I played pretty well yesterday, and I tried to make every putt. I really did. And look, the president – again, he wants that. It was a great match. He and [Mark] Udall played Saxby and myself, and it was a lot of fun. And we did talk about some public policy issues – so constructive in every way. Obviously, we all committed not to give a read out on that, but – no, we play to win.