CBS This Morning suddenly discontinued identifying San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as a Democrat on Tuesday, after including his political affiliation in two previous reports on the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around the politician. Bill Whitaker pointed out how Filner "dismissed [the] charges...as coming from anonymous sources" and how that was "in contrast to this contrite video apology from late last week", but omitted his party ID.
Just 24 hours earlier, Whitaker reported on the morning newscast that "the city's first Democratic mayor in twenty years is embroiled in controversy and fighting for his job." On Friday, anchor Gayle King noted during a news brief that "the Democrat spent ten terms in Congress before becoming mayor less than a year ago."
The CBS correspondent led the Tuesday segment with the "anonymous sources" detail of the San Diego mayor's denial, and underlined the recent change in Filner's approach to the growing controversy. He continued by reporting some of the allegations against Filner, which were detailed by a former member of the San Diego city council.
Later in the report, Whitaker noted that the Democratic politician's "apology may not be enough. Many expect the city to be hit with lawsuits. Attorney Marco Gonzalez is filing a sexual harassment claim on behalf of one employee." The journalist added that "Filner's fiancee cited his infidelities as a reason for their split last week, adding in a statement, 'Bob recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages and setting up dates while in my presence.'"
Whitaker certainly didn't hold back on pointing out the negative details that are emerging against Filner, but it is odd that he would drop identifying the mayor as a Democrat a mere day after mentioning it on CBS This Morning. The CBS correspondent appears to be following in the footsteps of ABC's Amy Robach, who failed to include the mayor's political affiliation during her news brief on Friday's Good Morning America.
The full transcript of Bill Whitaker's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:
NORAH O'DONNELL: The mayor of San Diego says he won't resign, and in a letter posted last night by the newspaper U-T San Diego, Bob Filner said he wants – quote, 'the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations from real people'. Filner adds, 'I do not believe I'm guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.'
As Bill Whitaker reports, three women suggest otherwise.
[CBS News Graphic: "San Diego Scandal: Mayor Denies Sexual Harassment Charges"]
BILL WHITAKER (voice-over): Calling himself merely a tough boss, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner dismissed charges of sexual harassment as coming from anonymous sources.
BOB FILNER, SAN DIEGO MAYOR: I have been tough. I – I demand excellence. I am impatient. But there's a difference between that and sexual harassment.
WHITAKER: That's in contrast to this contrite video apology from late last week.
FILNER: I'm embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me.
DONNA FRYE, FMR. COUNCILWOMAN (from press conference): Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach.
WHITAKER: At a press conference hours earlier, former Councilwoman Donna Frye read detailed accounts from three of Filner's unnamed accusers – this exchange from a onetime campaign volunteer.
FRYE: 'I want to kiss you. You are so beautiful', Bob Filner said. On the sidewalk, the mayor suddenly, in clear view of anyone who might pass by, grabbed and kissed her, jamming his tongue down her throat.
WHITAKER: The accuser also claims Filner groped her. Another constituent told Frye the mayor kicked staffers out of his office to proposition her.
FRYE: Mayor Filner grabbed me and kissed me. I was able to push myself away and hurriedly left the room, very upset.
WHITAKER: Around city hall, employees coined terms for the ways the mayor cornered his victims – the 'Filner headlock' and the 'Filner dance'.
FILNER: I'm obviously very concerned that people feel that way. I certainly don't see myself that way. If I've offended people, I apologize.
WHITAKER: But an apology may not be enough. Many expect the city to be hit with lawsuits. Attorney Marco Gonzalez is filing a sexual harassment claim on behalf of one employee.
MARCO GONZALEZ, ATTORNEY (from press conference): There is no circumstance under which it would be appropriate for the mayor to enter into an elevator with my client and to tell them that they would do a better job on that floor if they worked without their panties on.
WHITAKER: Filner's fiancee cited his infidelities as a reason for their split last week, adding in a statement, 'Bob recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages and setting up dates while in my presence.' But Filner insists he's not leaving office.
FILNER: I think all fair-minded San Diegans would agree that there ought to be a fair and impartial investigative process. And I think I will be vindicated at the end.
WHITAKER: For 'CBS This Morning', I'm Bill Whitaker.