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CBS Boosts White House's Doom and Gloom Talking Points About Sequester

Charlie Rose led Monday's CBS This Morning by hyping the allegedly catastrophic effect of the sequester during a promo for a report from correspondent Major Garrett: "Kids without vaccines; schools without teachers; and massive airport delays – we'll show you the worst-case scenario for government spending cuts."

Garrett himself could have been mistaken for an Obama administration flack as he devoted much of the segment to publicizing the White House's bombast about the impending $85 billion in spending cuts. He uncritically forwarded the administration's hype about the general and local effect of the cuts, which are set to take effect on March 1:

Major Garrett, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 25 February 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgMAJOR GARRETT: The White House says these $85 billion in pending spending cuts to basic government services will hit consumers hard, could jeopardize economic growth, and significantly slow commercial air travel....

The White House tabulated the state-by-state impact of the cuts. In New York, 12,000 furloughs of civilian Defense Department employees; in Missouri, 1,200 fewer children in Head Start; and in California, more than 15,000 children would go without vaccines.

Co-anchor Norah O'Donnell echoed Rose's teaser just before turning to Garrett: "What happens next could have far-reaching implications from classrooms to hospitals to airports." The former Fox News journalist then launched into his first summary of the administration's spin, which included the "hit consumers hard" line, and played two consecutive soundbites of Cabinet members giving their doom and gloom talking points.

Later, Garrett did play a single eight-second clip from a Republican/conservative – Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. But he soon followed it with a soundbite from freshman Democratic Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia, giving his report a three-to-one Democratic to Republican disparity.

This isn't the first time that the CBS journalist has acted as a White House stenographer since becoming the Big Three network's chief White House correspondent in November 2012. Back in January 2013, he spotlighted the administration's reaction to the Senate's temporary fiscal cliff fix: "I would say the three dominant words can be described as this: relief, a sense of triumph, and also, a sense of regret."

The full transcript of Major Garret's report on Monday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Congress and the White House have just four days to stop $85 billion in automatic spending cuts.

NORAH O'DONNELL: What happens next could have far-reaching implications from classrooms to hospitals to airports.

Major Garrett is at the White House. Major, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Countdown To Cuts: Dire Warnings of Sequester's Consequences"]

MAJOR GARRETT: Well, good morning, Norah and Charlie. The White House says these $85 billion in pending spending cuts to basic government services will hit consumers hard, could jeopardize economic growth, and significantly slow commercial air travel. Republicans call much of this political hype, but it appears some pink slips are going out.

GARRETT (voice-over): The Education Department has already put some teachers on notice: spending cuts mean your job could disappear.

GARRETT (from interview on CBS's "Face the Nation"): Is there a sky is falling aspect to any of the things you're talking about?

ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: But what it does – it creates tremendous instability, and there are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips – who are getting notices they can't come back this fall.

GARRETT (voice-over): Another part of the White House full court press: warnings about flight delays due to understaffed air traffic control towers.

RAY LAHOOD, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION (from interview on CNN's "State of the Union"): There has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic control – air traffic controllers, and that then will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports.

GARRETT: The White House tabulated the state-by-state impact of the cuts. In New York, 12,000 furloughs of civilian Defense Department employees; in Missouri, 1,200 fewer children in Head Start; and in California, more than 15,000 children would go without vaccines.

The only consensus in Washington: these spending cuts are coming. Republicans said the White House could come up with less painful cuts.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R), LOUISIANA (from interview on NBC's "Meet the Press"): My advice to the President is, stop the campaigning; stop sending out your Cabinet secretaries to scare the American people; roll up your sleeves, and do the hard work of governing.

GARRETT: The Senate will begin debates for the first time on an alternative to these across-the-board cuts. Even some Democrats are frustrated with the slow pace of action.

SEN. TIM KAINE, (D), VIRGINIA (from interview on CBS's "Face the Nation"): I'm new here. I've been in the Senate for about six weeks. There's no reason we should be playing this kind of brinksmanship.

GARRETT (on-camera): This debate is generally about the federal debt and more than $16 trillion in national debt. An alternative to these pending spending cuts, made up whether of new cuts or tax increases and some other different cuts, won't change that essential problem. Those numbers won't be reduced until the country has a debate about cost savings to entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, and that's not part of the discussion at all. Charlie and Norah?

ROSE: Major Garrett, thanks.

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