At the top of a report on CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Whit Johnson proclaimed: "In San Francisco yesterday, they celebrated the end of an era. After nearly two decades, the policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is all but history." The one-sided segment focused almost exclusively on supporters of repeal.
Of the ten sound bites featured throughout the story, only one, that of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, was critical of the policy being overturned. Johnson described how "Opponents of repeal...pleaded that such a dramatic change during a time of two wars would put troops in harm's way." However, after the clip of McCain was played, Johnson dismissed critics of repeal: "Democrats got a boost from a recent Pentagon study in which two-thirds of U.S. troops said changing the controversial law would have little impact, a feeling shared by most of America."
As all the broadcast network evening newscasts on Saturday used words like "historic" and "landmark" to describe the Senate vote in favor of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on homosexuals serving in the military, the networks also provided substantially more soundbites to supporters of the measure than to those who opposed changing the policy.
On ABC, the lead report filed by correspondent David Kerley used soundbites from five supporters of lifting the ban, while only two soundbites featured opponents. Kerley began his report by quoting an unnamed "civil rights leader" calling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a "stain on our nation," and, after quoting President Obama’s statement supporting the measure, immediately highlighted a former military service member who is gay. Kerley:
"A stain on our nation has been lifted," is how one civil rights leader put it tonight, and President Obama says, quote, "No longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans just because they are gay." This Senate vote was very personal for thousands of service members. Major Mike Almy served in Iraq but was discharged when the Air Force learned he was gay. He's been battling Don't Ask, Don't Tell ever since.
CBS’s John Dickerson also brought up civil rights as he called the vote a "civil rights victory for the President," although he also uniquely used the term "liberals" to refer to some of the President’s supporters who advocated the policy change. Dickerson: " Well, it's definitely a civil rights win for him, and it’s a win politically with liberals in his party, and they’ve been angry with him. They were angry with him on this issue in particular because they felt like he wasn’t pushing hard enough.
Saturday’s The Early Show on CBS showed a preview clip of correspondent Lesley Stahl interviewing former President Jimmy Carter for 60 Minutes in which Carter blamed former Senator Ted Kennedy for derailing his universal health care plan in the 1970s. Stahl referred to former Senator Kennedy as "Teddy" as she asked Carter if he held Kennedy responsible. Stahl: "And you blame Teddy for the failure?"
A clip of the interview can be found on the CBS News Web site.
Below is a transcript of the segment, introduced by Whit Johnson, from the Saturday, September 18, The Early Show on CBS:
Yet talking about liberal rabble rouser and onetime Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton, Johnson offered no ideological labels or even a tag that Sharpton might be “controversial.” Instead, Sharpton’s event was described as a rally “hosted by civil rights leaders,” and showcased his slam: “The things that Beck stands for are antithetical to the civil rights movement."
For good measure, Johnson brought in a second Beck critic, Daily Beast writer and frequent CNN talking head John Avlon. “Where Martin Luther King was a uniter,” Avlon slammed, “Glenn Beck is a professional divider.”
Part of the "hard work" Johnson cited was the massive number of pork barrel projects Byrd secured funding for over his long career: "Byrd said he owed his success to the long suffering people of West Virginia and he returned the favor by steering billions of dollars in federal government projects to the state, dozens of them, named for him." Johnson noted how "Byrd reveled in his success at bringing home the bacon....His critics called him the king of pork. He called that hog wash."
Another aspect of Byrd's career that Johnson highlighted was the West Virginia Democrat's opposition to the Iraq war: "A harsh critic of the war in Iraq, Byrd said opposing the war in 2003 was his most important vote ever."