CBS Anchor O’Donnell Rolls Over for Schiff to Spew Talking Points

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There’s a reason CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell was absolutely failing to boost ratings for CBS’s flagship evening newscast. Following the partisan passage of the House’s impeachment procedures on Thursday, O’Donnell sat down with, or rather rolled over for, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). She lobbed marshmallow-like questions at him so he could effectively set the narrative for impeachment and smear Republican grievances with the process.

Her first hard-hitting question was this bullet of a fastball: “Republicans say the rules are unfair. Are they?” To which Schiff responded, “No.”

“In fact, the rules are very much the same as they were during the Nixon impeachment, during the Clinton impeachment,” he went on to argue. “The American people will get to see both with the release of the transcripts and with the conduct of the open hearings, that they’re fair and they’re equal to both sides.”

Her next questions had a little bit more heat and actually addressed Republicans’ concerns:

But as we get ready for these public hearings that everyone can watch, Republicans say they're concerned that the Democrats will block the witnesses that they want to hear from. Can you assure them that you won't reject those witnesses?

But O’Donnell allowed Schiff to preemptively discredit any and all witnesses Republicans were interested in calling on. “Well, we've asked for proffer of which witnesses they think are relevant and we have concerns they're going to propose a bunch of witnesses that have no bearing, that they can use to smear the President opponents or other improper purposes,” he claimed, without evidence.

 

 

“It's important to note, that to the contrary of what they have been saying, in both Clinton and the Nixon impeachments, the minority did not have the right to call witnesses on their own unilaterally. They could call for a vote, but it was a majority vote that they were not assured of winning,” he added.

What Schiff claimed there was a blatant contradiction to his previous answer. While it may be accurate that minority parties couldn’t unilaterally call on witnesses previously, in the rules past on Thursday, chairmen of committees could veto the minority party without a vote. O’Donnell didn’t care to question him on that front.

Uninterrupted by his host, Schiff was permitted to smear Republican calls for fairness and transparency:

So we would love to hear who they're interested in having come before the committee. But given the kind of circus-like tactics, the storming of the SCIF and all the stunts the President, you know, puts them up to, we can't surrender the process to the minority party.

Seemingly overcome with excitement for President Trump’s impeachment, O’Donnell’s final question was, “Do you expect there will be public hearings this month?” Schiff said that was what he was aiming for but he couldn’t trust the White House to make witnesses available.

It’s incredibly lazy for journalists just to loosely toss out the suggestion that Thursday’s resolution was largely similar to previous impeachment processes, or let those suggestions stand unquestioned. Such descriptions mask the fact that there were discrepancies in favor of Democrats. O’Donnell was more than willing to let them stand.

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The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CBS Evening News
October 31, 2019
6:37:06 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: The key question is what comes next? A short time ago I spoke with Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

[Cuts to video]

Republicans say the rules are unfair. Are they?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): No. In fact, the rules are very much the same as they were during the Nixon impeachment, during the Clinton impeachment. But, look, all they have to argue is process, and even the President has acknowledged that's a failure.

And it's been a failure because we have had over 100 members eligible to participate in the depositions. The Republicans have been given the same amount of time to question witnesses as the Democrats. When we go to open hearings that will be the case, too. The American people will get to see both with the release of the transcripts and with the conduct of the open hearings, that they’re fair and they’re equal to both sides.

O’DONNELL: But as we get ready for these public hearings that everyone can watch, Republicans say they're concerned that the Democrats will block the witnesses that they want to hear from. Can you assure them that you won't reject those witnesses?

SCHIFF: Well, we've asked for proffer of which witnesses they think are relevant and we have concerns they're going to propose a bunch of witnesses that have no bearing, that they can use to smear the President opponents or other improper purposes.

It's important to note, that to the contrary of what they have been saying, in both Clinton and the Nixon impeachments, the minority did not have the right to call witnesses on their own unilaterally. They could call for a vote, but it was a majority vote that they were not assured of winning.

So we would love to hear who they're interested in having come before the committee. But given the kind of circus-like tactics, the storming of the SCIF and all the stunts the President, you know, puts them up to, we can't surrender the process to the minority party.

O’DONNELL: Do you expect there will be public hearings this month?

SCHIFF: It's certainly my hope that that will be the case. What has been difficult is that from day to day, we're not always sure until a witness shows up whether they're going to show up.

Obviously, the administration has been making a consistent effort-- consistent effort to prevent these witnesses, to obstruct their testimony. So, sometimes we don't know until we see the whites of their eyes if they're going to show up.

O’DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

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