CBS's Early Show on Wednesday played up how opponents of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan shouted down GOP representatives at recent town hall meetings, but downplayed them as "less than friendly," and marveled at their apparently "poignant" questions. The network also omitted how liberal groups targeted these meetings, and trumpeted the "nasty national shouting match" at health care town hall meetings in 2009.
News anchor Jeff Glor noted how "House Republicans are back home for the first time since passing an aggressive deficit cutting plan, including the architect of that plan, Congressman Paul Ryan." Glor used the "less than friendly" label immediately before playing a clip of an unidentified protester shouting, "Ryan, stop lying!" outside a town hall meeting held by the Republican in Wisconsin, and another of a woman who directly accused him of "screwing our generation and the next generation."
The CBS anchor then introduced correspondent Nancy Cordes by asking her, "The exchange we just saw: typical of what you saw yesterday?" Cordes enthusiastically replied, "Oh, yes, absolutely, Jeff," and continued that "Congressman Ryan heard some poignant questions from constituents about his deficit reduction plan."
The correspondent didn't give an example of such a question during her report, but instead, played a clip from a video posted by Think Progress, the blog of the liberal group Center for American Progress, from a town hall meeting hosted by Florida Republican Dan Webster, where protesters screamed "liar" at the congressman (Think Progress's identifying graphic is clearly visible during the clip; see graphic at right).
By contrast, on the August 12, 2009 edition of Early Show, then-host Russ Mitchell highlighted how "Democratic lawmakers pushing reform are being jeered at testy town hall meetings" and that the anti-Obamacare protests were proof that the debate over the health care issue was "turning into a nasty national shouting match."
Politico's Marin Cogan reported on Monday that "liberal groups are amping up their efforts against House Republicans this week, targeting lawmakers in their districts in an effort to make GOP support of Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint a political liability ahead of the 2012 election....This week’s efforts continue a campaign by Democratic groups last week to shift the narrative on the Ryan budget in their favor. Last week, MoveOn encouraged its members to attend town halls and grill lawmakers on Medicare and Medicaid." Neither Glor nor Cordes mentioned these detail during the report.
The full transcript of the report, which began 8 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Wednesday's Early Show:
JEFF GLOR: House Republicans are back home for the first time since passing an aggressive deficit cutting plan, including the architect of that plan, Congressman Paul Ryan. In some places, the reception that Ryan got was less than friendly.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS (chanting, from demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin): Ryan, stop lying!
GLOR: Representative Ryan attended four town hall meetings in Wisconsin yesterday, where he heard from voters about his budget plan, which includes major changes to Medicare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 1 (from town hall meeting): You're screwing our generation and the next generation.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: So the alternative is this, is a debt crisis? Is that your point? I mean, I can't- are you saying cut spending faster and deeper?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 1: I'm saying your plan screws the next two generations.
GLOR: CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes joins us from Kenosha, Wisconsin this morning. Nancy, good morning to you. The exchange we just saw: typical of what you saw yesterday?
NANCY CORDES: Oh, yes, absolutely, Jeff- good morning. We went to all of those town hall meetings. They were packed to the gills, every one of them, and at each one, Congressman Ryan heard some poignant questions from constituents about his deficit reduction plan, and specifically, that part about Medicare, about overhauling Medicare, turning it essentially into a voucher system for future generations, where the government would give them a subsidy, to then go ahead and buy private insurance. And this is something we're hearing about not just in Wisconsin, but at Republican town halls across the country.
In fact, take a look at one exchange in Orlando, Florida between a constituent and Congressman Dan Webster, who is a Florida Republican.
REPRESENTATIVE DAN WEBSTER (from town hall meeting): Not one senior citizen is harmed by this budget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1 (interrupting and shouting): What? You're a liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2: You're a damned liar!
GLOR: That was Nancy Cordes in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this morning.