At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming report on Wednesday's Delaware Senate debate by proclaiming: "U.S. Senate candidate and tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell is grilled in her first highly-anticipated debate, where she addresses everything from witches, to China, to late-night TV jokes."
Rodriguez's declaration was later followed by a completely one-sided report from congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, who focused exclusively on O'Donnell being interrogated over past statements: "Well, this debate involved two candidates, but the spotlight was really on one of them, Christine O'Donnell, and her history of controversial comments."
After playing clips of moderators, CNN anchor Wolf Blizter and Delaware First Media's Nancy Karibjanian, grilling O'Donnell, Cordes mockingly remarked: "Outside the auditorium, several witches milled about, some for O'Donnell, some against." She then noted how O'Donnell's "now infamous ad came up more than once."
Grilling Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez questioned President Obama attacking Republicans over unproven claims of accepting foreign campaign donations: "Why did he spend so much time talking about the Republicans trying to steal the election? Offering no evidence of that. Isn't it a bit undignified for the President to resort to that?"
The Democratic governor attempted to defend the President: "Well, the President's got dual roles, he's the commander-in-chief...but he's also the campaigner-in-chief....[talking] about what's to be afraid of....the unreported money that's coming into this campaign through groups that we'll never know who contributed to, that's something our citizens should be worried about." Rodriguez pressed him: "If you gave them evidence to support that claim, it would be one thing. But, to make claims like this without backing them up, seems not right."
Co-host Maggie Rodriguez had asked Jarvis about possible reasons for why the stock market "sky-rocketed" on Tuesday. Jarvis touted possible intervention by the Fed as a reason for the stock "surge": "...many are anticipating that the Federal Reserve will take its own tools and do stimulative action."
Rodriguez then wondered: "Yeah, the Fed has been indicating that's it's going to step in and prop up the economy. But there's a lot of speculation about what exactly Ben Bernanke will do. What are the options?" Jarvis replied: "...one particular thing, and that is to start printing more money, put more money into circulation." While she acknowledged that such an action "decreases the value of the money in your pocket," Jarvis rosily predicted: "...it also can increase the value of things around you, like your home."
In reply, Shepard ranted: "...we have such vicious rhetoric still floating around the country....All you have to do is go to the floor of the Congress, or media, the newspapers, about the discontent with 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and the marriage issue and it still seems like we're trying to relegate the gay community to a second-class citizen."
Rodriguez wondered: "What do you think that Congress or lawmakers should be doing differently?" Shepard used the opportunity to promote liberal agenda items: "Well, they should be granting basic civil rights to the gay community instead of continuing to try to deny them....To deny them service in the military or job security on a federal level or even the right to marry and receive all those benefits that are derived from that, it's just – it's just unfair, and, in my view, un-American."
Later, Rodriguez brought up the role of the internet in driving Clementi to suicide. Shepard declared: "...the blogosphere is particularly damaging, full of opinions that really have no accountability, that people take as the absolute truth. There's a real danger in what happens on the internet now."
Correspondent Michelle Miller noted of Gaga: "...recently she's become more vocal with her political leanings, urging her Twitter followers – she has a record 6.4 million of them – to write their senators over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" Miller concluded: "...the singer known for being out there, hopes her gay friends in the military will simply be allowed to be out." Throughout the report, a headline on screen read: "Lady Gaga Vs. The Pentagon; Pop Star Takes On 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy."
All the sound bites in the segment were in favor of overturning the policy, three from the pop singer herself and one from an outed gay soldier who escorted Gaga to MTV's Video Music Awards. The only time given to the other side was after Miller's report, when Rodriguez mentioned: "...the reason John McCain opposes this, he's waiting for the results of that Pentagon study on how this repeal might impact the, you know, troops who are serving right now."
In a report that followed, correspondent Bill Plante noted how "numbers may be going in the right direction" but touted "frustrated" Obama supporters speaking out at a Monday CNBC town hall. In between clips of those voters, Plante sympathetically remarked: "On the defensive, the President responded by outlining some of his administration's accomplishments, but admitted that things aren't where they need to be." He concluded the report: "So the reality is that improving statistics aren't very convincing to voters who are worried about jobs, and that is the reality the President and his party face going into the November elections."
Introducing a brief report on the stock market reaction, co-host Maggie Rodriguez looked for a silver lining: "The average American may be skeptical about an economic recovery, but the reaction on Wall Street to the end of the recession shows that investors are optimistic." Business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis declared: "...yesterday, stocks responded positively to the news that it is now behind us. The Dow ended higher by 145 points, putting it on track for the best September in 71 years."
Rodriguez made the comment to political analyst John Dickerson, who added: "That's right. And the victim card is one that Sarah Palin has played, Rand Paul has done the same thing. It's a bit of a time-honored technique and it works with your supporters, who are apt to believe the things you say..." He then warned: "...but if you're trying to get to voters in the middle or independents....they're not just going to take it at face value that you are a victim and rally to your side." Neither Rodriguez nor Dickerson questioned whether media coverage of Palin and O'Donnell had been fair.
In the prior report, correspondent Nancy Cordes touted how "O'Donnell says she's a devout Catholic, but in the video she describes her experimentation with witchcraft. And the man who released the clip says there's a lot more where that came from." Later, Cordes mentioned how "The 1999 clip was released by comedian Bill Maher," without noting his left-wing ideology.
On Friday, fill-in co-host Erica Hill offered a scant 42 second discussion of Johnston's apology in the show's weekly 'Early Wrap' segment. She actually admitted that it had been "highly under-reported." On Wednesday, amidst 2 minutes and 32 seconds of coverage of Johnston's re-engagement to Bristol Palin, a total of 25 seconds was given to his apology.
During the Wednesday coverage, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "How many times was that young man on this show talking really horrible things about the Palins?" Later, Hill declared that Johnston "said some rather unflattering things," causing Smith to once again describe how "Levi was on this show a bunch, several times in that era, and did interviews with [fellow Early Show co-host] Maggie [Rodriguez]."
Of the five 2009 segments about Johnston, three were exclusive interviews between him and Rodriguez. The first interview aired on April 8, while the second was aired in two parts on October 28 and 29. In addition, the show did September 3 segment on Johnston's anti-Palin Vanity Fair interview and a November 17 story previewing an interview with him on the CBS entertainment news program 'The Insider.'
On the April 8, 2009 broadcast, co-host Maggie Rodriguez conducted her first interview with Johnston, and introduced the segment by proclaiming: "He [Johnston], along with his mother and sister, sat down with me last night for an interview to clear up the 'lies' they say the Palins have been telling about them." Rodriguez sympathized with the former boyfriend of Bristol Palin by wondering: "Did you get your heart broken?"
During a September 3 segment on Johnston's latest attack against the Palins, Rodriguez declared: "And shocking allegations that could shatter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's conservative family image. If she chooses to believe what Levi Johnston is saying." Rodriguez's second interview with Johnston came weeks later on October 29: "He is back on the offensive in this he-said-she-said battle that began shortly after the presidential election....he says he's trying to show the world the real Levi." In reaction to that interview, Sarah Palin called out the network for promoting Johnston: "CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies."
Speaking to Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez, Schieffer ran down the most watched races in Arkansas, California, South Carolina, and Nevada. When he got to South Carolina, he described gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley as "very conservative." After making the 'Desperate Housewives' comparison, he remarked how the GOP primary in the state was "providing some entertainment, as it were, for the rest of the country. I mean, you had Governor Sanford down there and his adventures. And now these allegations against Nikki Haley." He quickly added that the allegations of adultery against Haley were "without foundation" and that "Nobody has proven anything."
Rodriguez then asked if "Harry Reid is happy or fretting the fact" that tea party-backed Sharron Angle won the GOP senate primary in Nevada. Schieffer declared: "I suspect that Democrats in Nevada are very happy about this....I think the Reid people think that he would have a much better chance beating her than some of the other Republicans in the primaries."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interrogated BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles on the Gulf oil spill: "Can you can understand why a Congressman told us that BP has lost all credibility?" However, on Thursday, fellow co-host Harry Smith went easy on Energy Secretary Ken Salazar, allowing the Obama administration official to shift blame to the oil company.
Rodriguez pressed Suttles repeatedly: "But it seems like every day we hear new allegations that BP had been cutting corners beforehand....So many of these keep mounting. How can you keep responding to this?...are you confident that BP will survive this?"
In contrast, Smith never asked Salazar if the Obama administration could "survive" its failures in responding to the crisis. Instead, he gave the cabinet secretary every opportunity to go after BP: "...The CEO of BP says the environmental impact in the Gulf is going to be minimal. Is this guy in touch with reality?" As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock noted on Thursday, hosts on both the ABC and NBC morning shows actually had some tough questions for Salazar.
Paul dismissed the idea and noted the unpopularity of Washington Democrats in the state: "I say, bring it on, and please, please bring President Obama to Kentucky. We'd love for him to campaign down here." Rodriguez acknowledged that fact by pointing out: "It didn't work too well for Arlen Specter to have President Obama on his side." Paul added: "the Democrats will really have to run away from President Obama if they have any chance down here."
Earlier in the interview, Rodriguez wondered if Paul could garner enough Republican support: "a lot of people say that you have your work cut out for you in the general election because how will you unite a GOP party...53% of voters who voted for your opponent in this primary don't like you, 43% said they wouldn't vote for you." After Paul discussed efforts to unify, Rodriguez followed up: "Do you think that your victory gives the tea party legitimacy? Will we see this become a legitimate political party?"