Harry Smith Paddles Dan Bartlett And Coddles Ted Kennedy In Speech Preview

Tonight President Bush will deliver his annual State of the Union Address, and Harry Smith of the "Early Show" previewed the speech this morning. Smith interviewed Dan Bartlett, Counselor to the President in the 7:00 half hour and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) in the 7:30 half hour. There were stark differences in the tone Smith took with each of his guests, and in the amount of time allotted to each. Bartlett was on the program for only 3 minutes, and fielded 3 questions, while Senator Kennedy was given 7 minutes to answer four, two of which related to the passing of Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Following a routine introduction of Dan Bartlett, Harry Smith asked some tough questions which in itself is not bias, but when that is combined with the negative tone that was taken and compared to the way Senator Kennedy was treated, it raises questions about fairness. The following are Smith’s questions for Bartlett.

-- "The President's assessment, no doubt, of the State of the Union is that it's going to be very good. There are plenty of people in America who would disagree with him. What is he going to say tonight that's going to change their minds?"

-- "Does the president have any relief in sight in Iraq? The military is clearly stretched thin over there, and I think the patience of a lot of Americans is stretched pretty thin as well."

-- "One of the things that we're hearing the president is going to talk about tonight is health care reform. A lot of seniors say if you're going to do the same you did for prescription drugs that you do with health care, thanks, but no thanks."

In comparison, when Senator Kennedy was on the program about 20 minutes later, Smith didn’t grill him, he didn’t ask about Democratic alternatives to ideas the President is expected to discuss tonight. Instead, he serves up some softballs on civil rights and the legacy of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. He follows that with a suggestion that Democrats weren’t hard enough on Judge Sam Alito (now Justice Alito) by asking if his attempt to block him "Is that a day late and a dollar short?" The following are the questions Smith had for Kennedy.

-- "Lots to absorb here this morning with the State of the Union Address tonight, the death, passing of Coretta Scott King. We want to talk about some of these subjects this morning with Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who joins us this morning from Capitol Hill. Senator good morning, I don't know if you've had a chance to hear this news or not about the passing, the death of Coretta Scott King. I know you and your family have worked so hard and diligently in the struggle for civil rights in this country. A moment if you will to reflect on her passing."

-- "She suffered a stroke and a heart attack last August, had, was making a recovery, actually appeared at an MLK day celebration in Atlanta In January, just 2 weeks ago. Senator, so many Americans believe because of King's legacy, the road to equality has been achieved, is there work to be done?"

-- "Senator, I want to move on to some other issues this morning including the confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States. You said on the Senate floor yesterday, 'if you are concerned and you want a justice that is going to stand for the working man and woman of this country, it's not going to be Judge Alito. Is that a day late and a dollar short?"

-- "Early on in this administration, you found some common ground with this President. The President is clear from all indications, is going to talk about some sort of reform in health care. Do you see in the future that there might be some common ground that you would find in this administration with regards to that?"

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