Democratic presidential contenders lashed out at frontrunner Joe Biden on Wednesday after he bragged about the ability to work with segregationists in the Senate, saying he could get things done with anyone. While all three networks covered this Democrat-on-Democrat fight Wednesday night and Thursday morning, CBS allowed the least amount of coverage: A scant 2 minutes and 34 seconds out of a total two and half hours of available air time.
ABC did slightly better, managing 4 minutes and 9 seconds over the same time period. NBC had the most coverage: 5 minutes and 41 seconds. The three network total amounted to 12 minutes and 24 seconds out of a possible 7 hours and 30 minutes.
On Wednesday, the CBS Evening News skipped the controversy entirely. On CBS This Morning, Thursday, the show’s co-hosts offered just over two and a half minutes in a single report. Co-host Anthony Mason sounded like he thought it was a big deal. He opened the show with this announcement: “Biden backlash. Democratic rivals slam the former Vice President for comments about segregationist senators as race and reparations become a focus of the primary campaign.”
Gayle King related:
Former Vice President Joe Biden is under fire from rivals in the Democratic presidential race after he reminisced about working together with segregationist senators back in the 1970s. Now this fight has suddenly brought race into the center of this campaign. Ed O'Keefe is on Capitol Hill with more to this story. Boy, Ed, good morning, Ed. This is happening at a very critical time, it seems.
Over on NBC’s Nightly News, Wednesday, anchor Lester Holt portrayed the furor as Democrats pouncing: “Joe Biden is under fire this evening as his rivals pounce on comments he made about working along side segregationist senators in the past.” Reporter Peter Alexander noted, “The backlash immediate, including from 2020 rivals.”
On World News Tonight, Terry Moran hyped, “Vice President Joe Biden drew fire from fellow Democrats for his comments at a fundraiser last night, recalling a bygone era of civility in Washington.” On Thursday’s Good Morning America, guest co-host David Muir described it as a “new backlash” against the Democrat by his 2020 rivals.
A transcript of the June 20 CBS This Morning segment is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
ANTHONY MASON: Biden backlash. Democratic rivals slam the former Vice President for comments about segregationist senators as race and reparations become a focus of the primary campaign.
7:10 AM ET
GAYLE KING: Former Vice President Joe Biden is under fire from rivals in the Democratic presidential race after he reminisced about working together with segregationist senators back in the 1970s. Now this fight has suddenly brought race into the center of this campaign. Ed O'Keefe is on Capitol Hill with more to this story. Boy, Ed, good morning, Ed. This is happening at a very critical time, it seems.
ED O’KEEFE: It sure is, Gayle. These racially charged incidents coming just as the presidential campaign heads to South Carolina in the coming days, the early primary state with the largest block of black voters.
JOE BIDEN: Apologize for what?
O’KEEFE: Former Vice President Biden stood by comments he made this week about his work with two segregationist senators, Herman Talmadge and James Eastland. On Tuesday at a fund-raiser, he discussed working with them despite their disagreement on civil rights, saying, “At least there was some civility. We got things done.”
BIDEN: The point I’m making is you don't have to agree. You don't have to like the people in terms of their views, but you just simply make the case and you beat them.
O’KEEFE: New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, another 2020 challenger, called for an apology.
BIDEN: Cory should apologize. He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in civil rights my whole career.
SENATOR CORY BOOKER: I don’t understand why he needs this lesson.
O’KEEFE: Other 2020 candidates also called out Biden.
KAMALA HARRIS: I think it’s just misinformed and it’s just wrong.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: We all have to work with people with whom we have very different points of view. But I think, to be singing the praises of people who were vicious segregationists is not something that anybody —
CHRIS CUOMO: But he was talking about working with them. Is that the same thing as singing their praises?
SANDERS: Well, I'm not so sure about that.
O’KEEFE: Earlier Senator Booker testified at a House hearing on slavery reparations held on the Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery.
BOOKER: Brokenhearted and angry right now. Decades of living in a community where you see how deeply unfair this nation is, still, to so many people.
O’KEEFE: It's important to note that Biden is finding some important support. South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn and other senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus say that his comments were taken out of context. Also important to know that our CBS Battleground tracker poll out this week finds that Biden has big advantages with black voters over his Democratic rivals. Anthony?
MASON: Yeah, he’s up 45 to 18 in our latest Battleground Tracker poll, Ed.