Lesley Stahl Cheers On Pelosi And Ignores Her Record on '60 Minutes'

October 23rd, 2006 12:48 PM

On the October 22 edition of "60 Minutes" on CBS, the media's pre-election celebration of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi continued. Pelosi was interviewed by Lesley Stahl, and while Stahl attempted to sound tough by noting that Pelosi’s rhetoric is part of the problem in terms of the tone in Washington, Pelosi was not challenged on issues important to voters. Stahl noted that Pelosi represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation, but did not seem to cope with the fact that perhaps Pelosi fits her district as a liberal, failing to mention Pelosi’s 99% Americans for Democratic Action rating over the past five years. Stahl called the Democratic agenda "centrist," while not demanding details of the agenda from Pelosi, and noted that Pelosi acknowledges she is obscure to the American people, insulating her from Republican attacks:

"Pelosi doubts the attacks will work since most Americans have no idea who she is. Besides, at the urging of her colleagues, she has downplayed her pro-abortion rights, anti-gun positions since becoming leader, instead promoting more centrist issues like raising the minimum wage and energy independence. "

Americans have no idea who Pelosi is because the media have failed to introduce her and her record to them. But more telling, is Stahl’s portrayal of the Democratic agenda as centrist, while providing no details on how the Democrats plan to achieve their objectives. Their record suggests they oppose domestic exploration for oil and natural gas, and alternative sources of energy will take years to develop and transition to. So do the Democrats support higher gas taxes to promote conservation? Such a move would be a gift to the environmentalist groups. And as to the minimum wage, the Democrats have voted against proposals that would grant tax credits to business to make up for the additional wages they would be required to pay. Again, not a centrist position.

Later, Stahl sounded more like a cheerleader for Pelosi than a tough interviewer:

"…You are tough. You have to... I mean, it goes without saying. You got there. You did it."

Much of Stahl’s piece was filled with "startling" revelations such as Nancy Pelosi doesn’t like to shop, but she likes to dance, and she likes to sing, but isn’t very good at it:

Paul Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s Husband: "She loves to dance, which she does well. She loves to sing, which she doesn't do well."

Leslie Stahl: "…You buy her clothes?"

Paul Pelosi: "Oh, well, she hates to shop."

While these personal details may seem interesting to some, they are not as important as issues, particularly the issue of where Nancy Pelosi wants to take America. On Iraq, Stahl noted Pelosi favors a phased withdrawal, and inquired of Pelosi:

"Does that not open you up then to that charge of cutting and running? This is just what they're saying."

Yes, if the plan is to simply withdrawal troops in the face of adversity, that is cutting and running. And since the Democrats refuse to offer any further details of their plan for Iraq, an inquiry Stahl certainly could have pursued with Mrs. Pelosi but did not, the perception is left that their strategy is "cut and run." Also omitted in the piece were lines of questioning dealing with the economy, taxes, jobs, Social Security, healthcare, education, or any other issue important to voters.

Given the lack of policy questions, the purpose of the interview seems clear. Stahl wanted to humanize Mrs. Pelosi against GOP attacks. Stahl described the GOP as using Mrs. Pelosi for target practice:

"And she needs that thick skin. She’s being used for target practice. Republicans, including the president, go after her saying if she’s Speaker, it’ll mean a weaker military, pampering of terrorists, and higher taxes."

Given Pelosi’s liberal record, these charges are not unfounded. But rather than deal with the facts, CBS preferred to take the route of showing she is not a monster; she’s a mother and grandmother. That may be true, but, again, it does not highlight her record, something voters should be aware of before casting ballots on November 7.