CBS's Early Show Sees No Controversy in Tiller's Work as 'Abortion Provider'
Published: 6/1/2009 2:50 PM ET
Reporting on the murder of Kansas abortion doctor, George Tiller, on Monday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor touted the doctor's career, while not depicting it as controversial: "...a doctor in the middle of the abortion debate for 35 years...Tiller, one of only a handful of doctors in the country performing late-term abortions, when the mother's health is at risk." Glor later commented about the murder: "Abortion providers feared a chilling effect."
At the top of the segment, co-host Julie Chen declared: "President Obama says he is shocked and outraged at the murder of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions." Following Glor's report, Chen spoke with Tiller's friend and attorney, Dan Monnat, and wondered: "Can you explain why Dr. Tiller continued his practice all these years, despite all the harassment?" Monnat portrayed Tiller as courageous: "Both Dr. Tiller and his family continually asked the question, if Dr. Tiller is not here to serve a woman's right to choose, who will be here to do it? There are only a handful of late-term abortion providers that remain in the United States, and in the world. Most of them have been terrorized and run off by the protesters."
The Early Show coverage made no mention of Tiller's controversial career, including a recent investigation into whether he conducted 19 illegal partial-birth abortions.
Here is the full transcript of the June 1 segment:
7:00AM TEASE:- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.
JULIE CHEN: U.S. Marshals are being sent in to protect women's clinics after the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in a Kansas church yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's heartbreaking. It's heart-wrenching that something in our community could happen as evil as this, in his church.
CHEN: We'll speak with Dr. Tiller's friend and attorney.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Up next, an abortion doctor gunned down in church. We'll bring you the latest on the investigation.
JULIE CHEN: President Obama says he is shocked and outraged at the murder of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor is in Wichita, Kansas, with the very latest. Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF GLOR: Julie, good morning to you. Dr. Tiller had been threatened many times before, even shot once. But those threats usually took place outside his clinic. This happened inside his church. The accused shooter, Scott Roeder, was returned to Wichita late Sunday night after a shooting that shocked a congregation and very quickly the rest of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [CHURCH MEMBER]: You know, it's just heartbreaking. It's heart-wrenching that something in our community could happen as evil as this, in his church.
GLOR: Services had just begun when 67-year-old George Tiller, a doctor in the middle of the abortion debate for 35 years, was gunned down in the church lobby while serving as an usher.
GEORGE TILLER: My office had been blown up. In 1993, I survived an assassination attempt.
GLOR: Tiller, one of only a handful of doctors in the country performing late-term abortions, when the mother's health is at risk, is being remembered by his wife, four children, and ten grandchildren, who called the shooting an unspeakable tragedy. As a vigil was held in Wichita on Sunday night. Abortion providers feared a chilling effect.
SUZANNE POPPEMA [ABORTION DOCTOR]: I'm very worried about my fellow abortion providers. I just wish that we could somehow make it so that they will all stay safe.
GLOR: We did speak with the accused shooter Scott Roeder's ex-wife yesterday. She said she was not surprised this happened. And that she believed Roeder want to be a martyr for the cause. Julie.
CHEN: CBS's Jeff Glor. Thanks. Joining us now from Wichita is Dr. Tiller's friend and attorney, Dan Monnat. Good morning, sir.
DAN MONNAT: Good morning, Julie.
CHEN: Did Dr. Tiller have security?
MONNAT: He did have security, the clinic itself had extensive security. There were surveillance cameras all around it. It had a high - it had a high fence around it. There were metal detectors in the doorway of the clinic, and generally there are armed guards on the premises night and day.
CHEN: Do you know if there is anything that happened recently which may have been a precursor to yesterday's tragic shooting?
MONNAT: Well, it's hard to tell. But in the month of May, someone scaled the security fence at the clinic, cut all of the wires to the lighting in the parking lot and the surveillance cameras, climbed atop the roof of the clinic, and slit the membrane on the roof so that storm water would drain into the clinic. At that time we requested that the FBI take an active role in the investigation, and since then they have taken an active role.
CHEN: Can you explain why Dr. Tiller continued his practice all these years, despite all the harassment?
MONNAT: Well, for one thing, he had the support of his wife of 45 years, Jeannie, their three daughters and son, who stood behind him 100%. Both Dr. Tiller and his family continually asked the question, if Dr. Tiller is not here to serve a woman's right to choose, who will be here to do it? There are only a handful of late-term abortion providers that remain in the United States, and in the world. Most of them have been terrorized and run off by the protesters.
CHEN: How is his family coping?
MONNAT: Nothing can prepare you for this horror. They're, of course, devastated, and though over the years they've known about the bombings, the shooting, the protests, this is just unimaginable grief to each of them.
CHEN: Please extend our deepest condolences to his family. Dan Monnat, attorney and friend of the late Dr. George Tiller. We thank you, sir.
MONNAT: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.
CHEN:: You're welcome.