CBS Goes All Out for Obama on Guns; Tears Offered ‘Silence More Powerful Than Words’

24 hours after heralding President Obama revealing specifics on his executive actions concerning gun control, the CBS Evening News offered a full-court press for the President on Tuesday following the announcement that saw the President shed tears that anchor Scott Pelley deemed were “more powerful than words” as “the most powerful man in the world” took “action to stop” gun violence.

The newscast opened with the normal teases, but began without the program’s theme music and instead audio of a silent White House as the President wept before Pelley interjected: “With silence more powerful than words, the President mourns victims of gun violence and takes action to stop it.”

Fawning over the “sight we rarely see,” Pelley described “[t]he tears of the most powerful man in the world” as a result of him being rendered “powerless to get the United States Congress to tighten gun control laws.”

Putting on-screen the pictures of the students murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, Pelley aired a clip of Obama weeping before continuing: “There have been 13 mass killings during the Obama presidency. Each time, Republicans voted against gun legislation, but last month, after San Bernardino, Mr. Obama decided to act on his own.”

Before turning over to chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford, Pelley informed viewers (without any source) that “about 40 percent of sales have no background checks at all.”

Crawford trumpeted the speech as “an emotional appeal...and a political call to action” while claiming that “the issue of stricter gun laws remains highly divisive” despite “92 percent of Americans support background checks.”

Crawford also touted the Presidents calls to remove any lawmaker who supports gun rights: “[T]he President, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, failed to get legislation through Congress that would have expanded them. Today, he said he wants voters to kick ardent gun rights supporters out of office.”

Only briefly paraphrasing a statement from the National Rifle Association (NRA) at the end of her report, Crawford gave way to congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, who summarized reaction from Republican presidential candidates before citing tweets from the “deep-pocketed” NRA: 

The National Rifle Association reacted to the President's remarks with a hail of tweets in real time saying, “President Obama's executive orders will do nothing to improve public safety.” The deep-pocketed group issued this warning to any lawmakers thinking of siding with the president: “FYI -- all #NRA grades are subject to change.”

Cordes closed by using that to tee up Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (who represents Newtown, CT) to slam the NRA and gun rights advocates: “It's not good enough to say, ‘I don't like what you're proposing.’ Then bring forward your proposals but for god's sake, do something.”

Following a brief on the soaring gun sales in America, Pelley wrapped up the seven-minutes-and-30-seconds of coverage by playing a large excerpt of the President’s speech in which he told the tragic story of Zaevion Dobson, who died after shielding three girls with his body during a gang attack in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Of course, CBS made sure to neglect to include any sort of extensive viewpoint from the other side of the President and refute the insignificance of what the President announced. Writing at Red State, Caleb Howe offered an excellent, multi-point takedown of what he dubbed “a ridiculously overblown picture,” including the myths of there being gun show and online loopholes.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on January 5 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
January 5, 2016
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

SCOTT PELLEY: With silence more powerful than words, the President mourns victims of gun violence and takes action to stop it.

(....)

6:30 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Emotional Response]

PELLEY: It is a sight we rarely see. The tears of the most powerful man in the world powerless to get the United States Congress to tighten gun control laws. The President was announcing what he would do by executive action without Congress when the memories of these victims, 20 first graders from Newtown, Connecticut, six or seven years old, choked Mr. Obama in mid-sentence. 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad — and, by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Executive Actions]

PELLEY: There have been 13 mass killings during the Obama presidency. Each time, Republicans voted against gun legislation, but last month, after San Bernardino, Mr. Obama decided to act on his own. Given the limits of his power, his actions today are not sweeping. The most significant simply expands background checks for gun sales online or at gun shows. Currently, about 40 percent of sales have no background checks at all. Chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford is at the White House. 

OBAMA: And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun —

CRAWFORD: It was an emotional appeal. 

OBAMA: We maybe can't save everybody, but we could save some. 

CRAWFORD: And a political call to action. 

(....)

CRAWFORD: Although the issue of stricter gun laws remains highly divisive, 92 percent of Americans support background checks, but the President, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, failed to get legislation through Congress that would have expanded them. Today, he said he wants voters to kick ardent gun rights supporters out of office. 

(....)

PELLEY: Well, if it is political theater, Republican presidential candidates played the President's proposals as high drama today. Nancy Cordes was in the audience. 

NANCY CORDES: “Obama wants your guns” — that was the warning on the presidential campaign web site for Texas Senator Ted Cruz today, alongside a mockup of the President in military garb. Cruz's fellow candidate Marco Rubio called the President's plan unconstitutional. 

(....)

CORDES: The National Rifle Association reacted to the President's remarks with a hail of tweets in real time saying, “President Obama's executive orders will do nothing to improve public safety.” The deep-pocketed group issued this warning to any lawmakers thinking of siding with the president: “FYI -- all #NRA grades are subject to change.”

DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN ELIZABETH ESTY (Conn.): Sadly, it's what I've come to expect now. 

CORDES: Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is a Democrat whose Connecticut district includes Sandy Hook Elementary where 20 children and six adults were gunned down in 2012. [TO ESTY] What do you say to Republicans who argue the president just doesn't have the constitutional right to take these actions? 

ESTY: It's not good enough to say, “I don't like what you're proposing.” Then bring forward your proposals but for god's sake, do something. 

CORDES: Many congressional Democrats applauded the President's actions today, but they don't control Congress, and if he wants more money for things like additional A.T.F. agents, he's going to have to win over some Republicans and right now, Scott, that seems unlikely.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center