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Free Publicity on CBS for Millionaire Liberal's Call to Tax the Rich

CBS's Chris Wragge spotlighted a millionaire's bid to raise taxes on the rich on Thursday's Early Show, all the while omitting that his guest is a big money donor to liberal candidates like Al Franken and to Moveon.org. Wragge didn't bring on any opponents of higher taxes, nor did he play sound bites from them. Instead, he played three clips from proponents, including former Clinton aide Robert Reich.

Wragge and co-anchor Erica Hill trumpeted the "so-called patriotic millionaires [who] are begging Congress to raise their taxes" as they teased the segment three different times before it began. Hill did mention once that "they also spoke with a critic who said if they want to pay more, then they should make a contribution on their own, instead of raising taxes on all millionaires."

But instead of turning to one such critic, the morning show played live footage of the Occupy Wall Street in lower Manhattan to introduce a slanted lead-in report about the liberal-leaning millionaires, which failed to include one sound bite from an opponent. It did have two clips from Reich and one from former Google executive Doug Edwards:

WRAGGE (voice-over): Appearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, former Google executive Doug Edwards urged lawmakers to end the Bush-era tax cuts for his fellow millionaires.

DOUG EDWARDS, FORMER GOOGLE EXECUTIVE (from press conference): We believe that the point-one percent- we- should pay more taxes. We want to pay more taxes.

WRAGGE: According to one study, millionaires now pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than ever before, down more than 50% in the last 50 years. (clip of protesters chanting, "The whole world is watching!") Occupy Wall Street protesters charge that the dramatically-lowered tax rate has created the greatest disparity in income between wealthy and average Americans in history. (clip of protesters chanting, "We are the 99%!") Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich agrees.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: The 400 richest Americans now own more of America than the bottom 150 million Americans-

WRAGGE: And Reich says America's wealthiest have a moral responsibility to their country.

REICH: The fundamental problem is that we are losing equal opportunity in America.

Wragge then turned to his guest, former AOL executive Charlie Fink. The CBS anchor did toss the conservative argument about the rich being perfectly capable of contributing revenue to Fink, and later inquired if raising taxes would hurt job growth, but the millionaire brushed aside both:

WRAGGE: ...I'm sure there's some people out there that are also saying, you want to pay more taxes? Well, go ahead. You've got all this money? You do it. What do you say to the people that just say, if you want to do this, just voluntarily check the box that says, you want to pay more taxes and you take care of it? You've got millions and millions of dollars.

FINK: Well, I don't think that the United States government is a charity, nor do I think that, you know, a few dozen or a few hundred individuals donating is really going to help the country solve its physical problems. So asking people to voluntarily donate to the government is like rather like asking one person in a rowboat to row.


WRAGGE: So you've got these other millionaires together, and you come up with this plan of getting all millionaires to pay more taxes. How do you get that message out? How do you cast a wider net?

FINK: Well, first of all, our message is very simple, which is just let the Bush tax cuts expire. Has any nation in history cut taxes to its wealthiest citizens while launching two open-ended foreign wars? So we have dug ourselves a hole much deeper and bigger than the one dug in World War II, which was paid off, by the way, with taxes in the range of 70% to 90%, and that was under Republican President Eisenhower, and certainly, nobody wants to see that. So I think, in the short term, paying 39.6%, which we paid under the tremendous economic expansion of the '90s- there is no evidence that the low-tax environment that we've experienced for the last ten years has created any jobs at all.

WRAGGE: Okay. We've got an unemployment problem right now. Jobs is a huge issue across the board. How do you respond to the criticism of those who say that raising taxes on the job creators, the wealthy, kills jobs?

FINK: But that's simply a lie. People who create jobs create jobs because of demand for their products and services, not because of taxes. Taxes are never, never a factor in deciding to hire someone.

Despite asking these right-leaning questions, Wragge failed to mention that Fink, who lives in the DC metro area, is a thousand-dollar donor to Democratic Party campaigns and to liberal organizations. In the 2008 cycle, he donated several times to Obama's presidential campaign, as well as to the recount fund for Sen. Franken in Minnesota. He also donated to MoveOn.org in 2007. He also contributes to The Huffington Post.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.