CNN's Roberts Gives Fluff Interview to Senator Schumer on Gonzales Issue

CNN's John Roberts, co-host of "American Morning," gave nothing but softball questions to New York senator Chuck Schumer on Thursday morning. Prefacing his interview with sound bites from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where attorney general Alberto Gonzales was testifying on the controversial Terror Surveillance program, Roberts got right to the point that Schumer wanted to get out in the press. "So, did Gonzales lie to you?" Roberts was even brazen about his aid to Schumer with this interview at the close of the segment. "Well, there's your newsy sound bite this morning. Senator Schumer, thanks very much. Good to see you."

The rest of Roberts's questions to Schumer reenforced the partisan talking points the senator wanted to deliver. After playing another sound bite from the Gonzales testimony, Roberts and Schumer had the following exchange.

ROBERTS: You're shaking your head there, Senator Schumer. Why?

SCHUMER: Because it was about the TSP. And everyone who was at the meeting, or many of the people who were at the meeting, said that. Now, John Negroponte says it in a letter. And that's not the only thing. Why did Gonzales get in a pickle here? Because I had asked him much earlier, before John Komey (ph) had testified, when we brought him before the Judiciary Committee, I said was there any dissension about the wiretap program in the administration? And he said, no. And then he comes back and says, well, there was dissension about other things. But that is just not true. Anyone who was involved knows that this man is just not telling the truth. And it's just unbelievable to me that either he doesn't step down or that the president, seeing what's going on and seeing that there's more at stake than just loyalty to an old friend, doesn't ask him to resign.

ROBERTS: At that meeting were four members of the Democratic leadership, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, and Jay Rockefeller. What's their recollection of that meeting? And why would Gonzales tell untruths about a meeting at which Democrats were present?

SCHUMER: You know, the first question is their recollection is it was about the TSP. People could say, well, they're Democrats. So was John Negroponte. He said that was what it was about, too, in his letter. That was what it was going to -- that's what they were discussing. The second question is beyond belief. How this man thinks he can just keep getting away with not telling the truth. And as I said, if this were the only instance, you might say, OK, give him a chance to clarify. But this is just the straw that is breaking the camel's back. He's done this over and over and over again.

After this exchange, Roberts asked Schumer if a perjury investigation against Gonzales should begin. Schumer did his best to make the Democrats look "reasonable."

ROBERTS: So should that investigation start today?

SCHUMER: So -- yes, for me, I don't have any doubt that he has -- and not just me. Arlen Specter said he came right up to the line, too. I would like to see an investigation occur right away. I respect Chairman Leahy. And he's a very careful man. He always gives the other side the benefit of the doubt, and that's good. But for me at least, telling you my opinion, he's put down so many, so many things that an investigation should start right away.

Among the many question that Roberts did not address was whether Schumer and the Democrats were doing that for partisan reasons, and Schumer's call for an independent counsel into Gonzales's testimony and statements into the U.S. attorney firings. He also didn't get Schumer to respond to the charges of the critics, such as Dana Perino of the White House Press Office, who gave a blunt response to Schumer and the Democrats' actions. "Oh give me a break. It's amazing to me how every day the Democrats find a way to get out of doing the work Americans are expecting on issues important to them"

It is clear from this that Roberts was doing his best to facilitate Schumer, so the senator could get some time in front of the TV cameras.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan was a news analyst at Media Research Center