CBS's Nancy Cordes Points the Finger at GOP Over Government Shutdown

For two straight days, Nancy Cordes strongly hinted on CBS This Morning that House Republicans were to blame for the ongoing government shutdown. On Tuesday, Cordes hounded GOP Congressman Robert Pittenger: "All the polls show that a majority of Americans don't want to see the government shut down over ObamaCare. How can you say the American people is on your side?"

The correspondent tossed a similar question the following morning at Pittenger's colleague, Rep. Phil Gingrey: "How long are you willing to keep the government partially closed over ObamaCare?" During both reports, she didn't bother to ask such questions of Democratic representatives or senators.

Cordes led her Tuesday report for the CBS morning newscast by noting that "Congress was here all night long. There was plenty of shouting, plenty of finger-pointing – but no deal-making." It didn't take long for the journalist to herself point a finger. She played the clip of her slanted question to Rep. Pittenger towards the end of the segment:

NANCY CORDES: All the polls show that a majority of Americans don't want to see the government shut down over ObamaCare. How can you say the American people is on your side?

REP. ROBERT PITTENGER, (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, they don't like ObamaCare, and I would say to you that the government shut down 17 times before.

The North Carolina congressman pointed out something that the correspondent failed to mention during both segments. According to CBS News' own poll from the end of September 2013, "opinions of the health care law overall continue to be negative...39 percent of Americans now approve of the health care law, but more - 51 percent - disapprove, similar to views in July." Back in July 2013, anchor Norah O'Donnell spotlighted that poll result, which found that "more Americans than ever want the health care law repealed", but did her best to explain it away.

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, the correspondent began by noting that "Republicans feel they can't back down now without serious concessions, and Democrats think they have the high ground and don't need to negotiate." She continued by outlining that "House Republicans tried to restore funding for three parts of the government Tuesday night – the District of Columbia, national parks, and veterans affairs....But Democrats voted down all three bills, calling it a P.R. stunt."

However, just as she did the previous day, Cordes targeted a Republican legislator exclusively:

CORDES (on-camera): How long are you willing to keep the government partially closed over ObamaCare?

REP. PHIL GINGREY, (R), GEORGIA: Well, you know, that's a decision, of course, that our leadership will have to make. But we are a unified team – I can tell you that.

The CBS journalist also hyped how "a small, but growing group of House Republicans is lashing out. California's Devin Nunes called his Tea Party colleagues 'lemmings going over a cliff together'." She then played a clip from Rep. Nunes, who likened his colleagues to toddlers: "You shouldn't just go and take your toys and throw a fit, and threaten government shutdown. And that's what this strategy is."

Two weeks earlier, on both CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning, Cordes played up how anonymous Republican senators attacked their peers in the House for their proposal to defund ObamaCare: "Senate Republicans are almost unanimously opposed to this plan. One called it a 'suicide note'. Another said it would harm the American people. They don't like the President's health care law either...They just don't think that funding should be held hostage because of it."

Overall, CBS, along with ABC and NBC, have overwhelmingly placed blame for the shutdown on Republicans/conservatives, even before it began. During the last two weeks of September, the Big Three's evening newscasts devoted 21 out of 39 stories on the issue "framed around the idea of Republicans triggering the crisis, compared to four that blamed both sides and absolutely none that put the onus on Democrats' failure to negotiate", as the MRC's Rich Noyes documented on Tuesday.

[Update, Wednesday, 5:24 pm Eastern: the full transcript of Nancy Cordes' reports from Tuesday and Wednesday's CBS This Morning can be read at]

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