Following in the footsteps of Tuesday’s CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News worked to paint the 47 Republican Senators who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in a negative light and portraying their actions as meddling in the Obama administration’s negotiations while making no mention of the moves that Democrats made to thumb their noses at Republican administrations.
Leading off the nearly two-minute segment, anchor Scott Pelley deemed the actions of the GOP Senators as having “attempted to scuttle any nuclear deal between President Obama and Iran.”
CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett followed with a report that covered reactions to the letter from Vice President Biden and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) along with soundbites from Republican Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).
Garrett also made sure to mention that President Obama vowed “to veto any congressional legislation that would require Congress to approve what would be a multinational nuclear deal” while all sides agreed that “only Congress can lift the economic sanctions that drove Tehran to the negotiating table in the first place.”
On the subject of Biden, CBS failed to bring up the fact that, while a U.S. Senator, Biden called for Senate approval of any possible deal concerning arms reductions with Russia in 2002.
Concerning Democrats at large, Pelley and Garrett neglected to cite examples of moves Democrats made in defiance of the Bush administration. The New York Times’s Peter Baker briefly outlined some of the key examples of Democratic hypocrisy:
Jim Wright, the Democratic House speaker during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was accused of interfering when he met with opposing leaders in Nicaragua’s contra war. Three House Democrats went to Iraq in 2002 before President George W. Bush’s invasion to try to head off war. And Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, went to Syria in 2007 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad against the wishes of the Bush administration, which was trying to isolate him.
As the Media Research Center’s Jeffrey Meyer reported on Tuesday morning, there has been no network mention of a letter that then-Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) sent to the Soviet Union in 1983 as an attempt to undermine then-President Reagan’s nuclear talks with the Soviet government and his reelection campaign in 1984.
In addition, then-House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and nine other Democrats sent a letter to Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega Saavedra in 1984 praising the authoritarian leader. The favorable letter was followed up by a visit with Ortega in Guatemala a year later by then-Senator (and now Secretary of State) John Kerry (D-Mass.).
Meanwhile, both ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir and NBC Nightly News made no mention of this story after covering it on Monday.
The transcript of the segment from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on March 10 is provided below.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
March 10, 2015
6:37 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Nuclear Talks]
SCOTT PELLEY: There was more fallout today from that open letter in which Senate Republicans attempted to scuttle any nuclear deal between President Obama and Iran. With more on that, here's our chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.
MAJOR GARRETT: Vice President Joe Biden said he was “offended” by the letter. Biden, who served more than 30 years in the Senate, said it was “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.” He accused Senate Republicans of trying to, quote, “undercut our President and circumvent our constitutional system.” The letter, authored by freshman Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas and signed by 46 other Republican Senators, warned Iranian leaders if Congress does not ratify any nuclear deal, the next president or future congresses “could revoke” or “modify” it. Democrats said Republicans were siding with hard liners in Iran. Democrat Dianne Feinstein:
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR DIANE FEINSTEIN (Calif.): It's shocking. I've been here for 22 years. I have never seen anybody do this.
GARRETT: Cotton, 37, is the youngest member of the Senate. He served with the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and denied undermining the ongoing nuclear negotiations.
REPUBLICAN SENATOR TOM COTTON (Ark.): The Congress must approve a deal for a deal to be lasting and Congress will only approve a deal if it stops Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
GARRETT: Cotton's Republican colleague, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, called the President dangerously naive.
REPUBLICAN SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (S.C.): The President of the United States seems to embrace a construct that there are moderates to negotiate with Iran running the government. That is beyond delusional. That's dangerous.
GARRETT: President Obama has vowed to – has threatened to veto any congressional legislation that would require Congress to approve what would be a multinational nuclear deal with Iran, but, Scott, all sides agree, only Congress can lift the economic sanctions that drove Tehran to the negotiating table in the first place.
PELLEY: Major, thanks very much.