On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "After more than a year of debate, Democrats say they're on the verge of passing historic health care legislation." And touted the massive legislation as fiscally responsible: "The government says the final version of the bill will cost $940 billion over ten years, but will reduce the projected budget deficit by $138 billion."
In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes gave a fully positive description of the legislation: "The final bill would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. It would close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors by the year 2020 and it would penalize businesses with more than 50 workers if they don't offer insurance."
After Cordes's report, Rodriguez spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who praised CBS's adherence to the Democratic Party line: "Maggie, what I think is that we have seen yesterday very important information from the Congressional Budget Office, which as you indicate and Nancy indicated, shows that we are doing exactly what we said we would do."
On Tuesday, the Early Show followed a similar pattern, with White House correspondent Bill Plante issuing an ObamaCare press release and Democratic Senator Chris Dodd coming on to praise such slanted reporting: "Bill Plante gave you a really good picture of it....Bill made a good case for this." Neither the Tuesday nor Friday segments featured a Republican to provide criticism of the unpopular legislation.
Despite the supportive tone during the Friday segment, Rodriguez did press Hoyer on some controversial elements of the bill, such as sweat heart deals for certain states: "Speaker Pelosi went to great pains yesterday to say that this does have equality for all states now. But there's still extra money in there for hospitals in Tennessee, there's still special spending in as many as 11 other states. What happened to the equality for all states in this bill?"
Rodriguez later pointed out the strong public opposition to the bill and wondered about the political fallout for Democrats: "A poll that came out this morning that shows that 50% of Americans say that they're less likely to vote for their representative in Congress come November if they vote yes on health care reform. Is your party prepared to lose the majority over this and potentially even more?" Neither NBC's Today nor ABC's Good Morning America made any mention of such polling data on Friday.
Here is a full transcript of Cordes's report:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Sunday showdown. After more than a year of debate, Democrats say they're on the verge of passing historic health care legislation, but how much will it cost Americans? We'll tell you.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: We begin with the looming battle over health care reform. The government says the final version of the bill will cost $940 billion over ten years, but will reduce the projected budget deficit by $138 billion. House leaders say that Sunday is decision day, but the big question, do Democrats have enough votes to get it passed? CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes is keeping a tally on Capitol Hill this morning. Good morning, Nancy.
NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Maggie. Well, here's where things stand right now. Assuming that they get no Republican votes, then Democrats can afford to lose, at the very most, 37 of their own members. And take a look at our CBS News tally. Right now we're counting 20 Democrats who have already said they're voting no. And 45 who are still on the fence. Those are the ones that the President is working so hard to convince.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Sunday Showdown; House Dems Set Stage for Historic Health Care Vote]
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.
CORDES: The President is spending these last critical days before the health care vote working to win over wavering House Democrats.
BARACK OBAMA: I urge every member of Congress to consider this as they prepare for their important vote this weekend.
CORDES: He's postponed his trip to Indonesia and is meeting with holdouts, but he can't convince everyone.
STEPHEN LYNCH: I'm a firm no on it.
CORDES: Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts supported the House bill back in November. But even after talking to the President, he feels this final bill doesn't do enough to curb insurance company abuses.
STEPHEN LYNCH: We're paying the ransom, but at the end of the day, the insurers, the insurance companies, are still holding our people hostage.
CORDES: The final bill would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. It would close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors by the year 2020 and it would penalize businesses with more than 50 workers if they don't offer insurance. Some Democrats have been swayed by Mr. Obama's private talks. Congressman Luis Guttierez of Illinois had been a no vote over concerns about health care access for illegal immigrants.
LUIS GUTTIEREZ: After extensive discussions with the President, I believe I can vote yes.
CORDES: Now a lot those undecided members were waiting until they got a chance to see the final bill and the price tag before they made up their minds. They finally got a chance to see both of those yesterday, and so I wouldn't be surprised, Maggie, if starting today we start to hear a lot of those members announce which way they're coming down. Back to you.
RODRIGUEZ: Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill. Nancy, thank you.