CBS on Sunday and Monday hammered Republicans in Congress for supporting a law in 2015 that changed how the Department of Drug Enforcement could regulate opioid distribution. The network minimized the fact that the law was signed by Barack Obama (as the opioid crisis grew). On 60 Minutes, Sunday, Obama’s name was mentioned just once.
On Monday, This Morning's Nancy Cordes blamed, “Pennsylvania’s Tom Marino and Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn introduced this bill back in 2015. Well, each of them received significant contributions that year from the pharmaceutical industry, more than $70,000 for Marino. More than $160,000 for Blackburn and $177,000 to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.”
Allowing the ex-President to divert blame, Cordes spun, “It ended up passing with unanimous consent and signed by President Obama. Former administration officials, some of them now say they didn’t realize how much this one bill would change things.”
Oh, well, if Obama didn’t realize the effect, it doesn’t matter? In the 8am hour, co-host Norah O’Donnell reoriented the blame to the GOP: “Republican member of Congress Tom Marino and Marsha Blackburn promoted it as a way to ensure patients had access to the medication they needed.”
The only other hint of culpability came when co-host Charlie Rose noted that the bill was “approved by Democrats.”
On 60 Minutes, the ONLY mention of Obama came when correspondent Bill Whitaker noted, “A week later, with no objections from Congress or the DEA, President Barack Obama signed it into law, without ceremony or the usual bill signing photo-op.”
The Washington Post, which worked with CBS as a joint investigation, didn’t mention Obama until paragraph ten. Finally, writers Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein noted the Democrat’s role:
On April 19, Obama signed the bill. The White House issued a one-page news release announcing its enactment.
Marino also issued a release taking credit for the legislation.
“With this law, our drug enforcement agencies will have the necessary tools to address the issue of prescription drug abuse across the country. I applaud the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress and President Obama for realizing the importance of this legislation.”
Industry groups also thanked Obama.
The Washington Post’s Dan Zak cheered his paper's attack on Congressman Marino, now Donald Trump’s nominee for DEA czar.
If this legislation was ill-advised, than that means that all those who were apart of it are culpable. It passed with no objection through the House and the Senate and was signed by the President. If, as CBS allowed Obama defenders to state, the then-President “didn’t realize” what the bill would do, he was ignorant. Either way, the Democrat should be the subject of some blame too.
[The 60 Minutes segment was sponsored by Buick, Ancestry DNA and Brighthouse Financial.]
A partial transcript is below:
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CBS This Morning
NORAH O’DONNELL: The investigation found the drug industry contributed at least one and a half million to 23 lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill, weakening enforcement laws at the height of the opioid epidemic. Congressman Thomas Marino, the chief advocate for that bill, is now President Trump’s nominee to be federal drug czar. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill with information about the bill and its key sponsors. Nancy, good morning.
NANCY CORDES: Good morning. This bill was sold on Capitol Hill as a way to ensure that patients had access to pain medication, but former DEA officials say that it actually stripped their agency to go after suspicious shipments, for example, when one town of 400 people in West Virginia got nine million hydrocodone pills over just two years. Now, as Bill Whitaker mentioned, Pennsylvania’s Tom Marino and Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn introduced this bill back in 2015. Well, each of them received significant contributions that year from the pharmaceutical industry, more than $70,000 for Marino. More than $160,000 for Blackburn and $177,000 to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who negotiated the bill with the DEA. It ended up passing with unanimous consent and signed by President Obama. Former administration officials, some of them now say they didn’t realize how much this one bill would change things. We reached out to Marino and Blackburn’s office for comment, they did not respond. Senator Hatch’s office told the Washington Post his office actually collaborated with the DEA and the agency, Charlie, had many opportunities to put the breaks on this.
O’DONNELL: The new law deals with drug distributors, who ship pain pills from manufacturers to drugstores. Republican members of Congress — Republican member of Congress Tom Marino and Marsha Blackburn promoted it as a way to ensure patients had access to the medication they needed.