Liberal Groupthink at CBS: Newsroom 'Embarrassed' by Brief Anti-Abortion Commentary

Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer story on the troubles at the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric — a story bulging with anti-Couric quotes from anonymous CBSers — included a revealing window into the news network’s intolerant liberal mindset, with the newsroom in “an uproar” after the father of a slain high school student was given roughly 60 seconds to condemn the lack of morality in public schools and said the culture of abortion devalues human life.

“‘There's a difference between free speech and responsible speech,’ an embarrassed correspondent says,” according to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Gail Shister.

The revelation of how staffers were revolted by the short conservative comment came deep in the story about CBS’s troubles, much of which recounted the clashes between the celebrity Couric and CBS News veterans. But, Shister noted, “for many CBS News staffers, the nadir was a ‘Free Speech’ segment Oct. 2,” following the murders of five Amish schoolchildren. Brian Rorbaugh, the father of a student killed at Columbine High School in 1999, was granted a minute of CBS’s airtime to blame the “moral free-fall” of today’s society.

Here’s part of what Rorbaugh said that night:

When my son Dan was murdered on the sidewalk at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, I hoped that would be the last school shooting. Since that day, I’ve tried to answer the question, "Why did this happen?"

This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value.

We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children.

CBS staffers were apparently infuriated -- even though Rorbaugh’s segment was clearly his own personal commentary, and other FreeSpeech segments on CBS featured liberal commentators like the far-left The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and liberal Illinois Senator Barack Obama or featured liberal points of view, like Bob Schieffer's September 13 editorializing against the Bush administration's "secret prisons" saying the U.S. has adopted "the methods of our enemies." (No "uproar" over that?)

Shister revealingly wrote:

One of the early casualties was "Free Speech," a segment in which ordinary people as well as celebrities sounded off on various issues.

For many CBS News staffers, the nadir was a "Free Speech" segment Oct. 2, the day five Amish schoolgirls were murdered in Lancaster County.

The father of a child killed in Colorado's Columbine High School massacre in 1999 blamed the Amish tragedy, in part, on the teaching of evolution in public schools and on abortion.

Despite CBS's avowed intention to include all viewpoints in "Free Speech," the segment caused an uproar in the newsroom, according to CBS insiders.

"There's a difference between free speech and responsible speech," an embarrassed correspondent says.

It was another significant misstep in Couric's uphill climb to legitimacy, a trek that seems to grow steeper by the day.

If CBS’s cadre of correspondents is mad because a few seconds of airtime was given over to a social conservative point of view, then the problems at CBS News go so deep that it may not matter who sits in the anchor chair.

Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters