CBS News has lately been running ads touting their new Evening News anchor Scott Pelley as bringing “the world class original reporting of 60 Minutes, now every weeknight.” If so, those who hoped CBS would finally shift towards a more fair-and-balanced approach to the news may again be disappointed.
Last year, MRC news analysts reviewed “the world class reporting” on 60 Minutes and found a lopsided agenda that strongly favored liberals. In the previous five years, 60 Minutes aired 35 interviews with liberal leaders and celebrities, most of which (69%) were friendly and unchallenging. In contrast, only five of the 17 conservative segments (29%) were soft, a huge tilt both in the amount and the tone of CBS’s coverage.
In a “Profile in Bias” report MRC put together earlier this spring, Pelley’s 60 Minutes segments were well-represented for his generous coverage of liberals, including Hillary Clinton (“star power”) and retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Pelley also used his podium to make a case for universal health insurance and decried the horrible economy as seemingly taken from “the pages of the Great Depression” (that was during the Bush years, when unemployment was 5.7%, not during the Obama years when unemployment has averaged more than 9%).
And, when one of his 60 Minutes pieces on global warming came under fire as being too one-sided, he disdained those who disagreed as akin to “Holocaust deniers,” grumbling to a reporter for CBSNews.com: “If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”
Here are a few of Pelley’s most notorious moments at CBS thus far (for the full package, visit www.MRC.org):
>> Pelley: U.S. Health Care as Bad as a Third World Country
On the March 2, 2008, 60 Minutes, Pelley plunged into the presidential campaign with a story supporting the liberal issue agenda: "One of the decisive issues in the presidential campaign is likely to be health insurance. Texas and Ohio vote on Tuesday, and those states alone have nearly 7 million uninsured residents. Nationwide, 47 million have no health insurance. But that's just the start, because millions more are underinsured..."
He proceeded to profile a charity called Remote Area Medical and its efforts to provide free health care in the United States: "Recently, we heard about an American relief organization that air drops doctors and medicine into the jungles of the Amazon. Its called Remote Area Medical, or RAM for short. Remote Area Medical sets up emergency clinics where the needs are greatest. But these days, that's not the Amazon -- this charity founded to help people who can't reach medical care now finds itself throwing America a lifeline."
>> Hailing Hillary's Work Ethic and 'Global Star Power'
During a May 9, 2010 profile of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes, Pelley hailed that "she doesn't let anyone work harder” and "she's the only person in American politics with global star power close to" that held by Barack Obama, Pelley gushed: "A few Secretaries of State have been famous; none has been a first name celebrity like Hillary."
>>Global Warming Skeptics Just Like Holocaust Deniers
In a March 23, 2006 interview about his coverage of environmental issues Pelley was actually asked by CBSNews.com's senior political reporter Brian Montopoli why he refused to include skeptics of global warming and he replied: "If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?"
Montopoli went on to report that Pelley said: "His team tried hard to find a respected scientist who contradicted the prevailing opinion in the scientific community, but there was no one out there who fit that description" and then quoted Pelley arrogantly insisting: "This isn't about politics or pseudo-science or conspiracy theory blogs. This is about sound science."
>> Misinformed Ground Zero Mosque Opponents Whip Up 'A Fury'
In a September 26, 2010 60 Minutes story that gave a glowing portrayal of the real estate developer and imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, Pelley also used the opportunity to smear opponents of the project: "...a national controversy with anger, passion, and more than a little misinformation. Opponents whipped up a fury, calling the project a grotesque mega-mosque tied to terrorism."
>> CBS's America Under Bush:Depression-Era Food Lines
Back on the January 8, 2003 60 Minutes II, over video of a long line of people in Marietta, Ohio, Pelley ominously intoned: "The lines we found looked like they'd been taken from the pages of the Great Depression. It's not just the unemployed, we found plenty of people working full time but still not able to earn enough to keep hunger out the house. If you think you have a good idea of who's hungry in America today, come join the line. You'd never guess who you'd meet there."
Pelley's emotions-over-facts style of reporting included this line: "Pre- schoolers come here with their parents and play in boxes as empty as the day's want ads." Pelley asked, "When you look at this line, what do you see?" And answered the question himself: "You know what I see? Some pretty average looking Americans."
>> Republicans Just Like Timothy McVeigh
On the January 2, 1996 edition of CBS Evening News, Pelley perhaps overdramatized the impact of the government shutdown when he opened his story this way: "In April, terrorists tried to kill them. Today politicians stopped their paychecks. In Oklahoma City's Social Security office, they're being ordered to work for nothing."