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CBS Hounds Pelosi Over Shutdown: 'You've Called Them Arsonists'

CBS This Morning has a long established history of conducting softball interviews of liberal/Democratic guests, while unleashing on conservative/liberal ones. But on Friday, the morning newscast surprisingly hounded Rep. Nancy Pelosi on the ongoing government shutdown. Obama supporter Gayle King repeatedly pressed Pelosi about "people [who] are just saying...work it out....both sides have to be willing to leave something on the table."

Anthony Mason underlined how "Senator [Harry] Reid called some Republicans anarchists. You've called them arsonists....How do you get a meeting of the minds when people are talking like that?" Norah O'Donnell also wondered about "a scenario...where Democrats would be willing to give on a larger budget deal – the grand bargain coming back, and giving on entitlements, so that we can move forward." [MP3 audio available here; video below]

O'Donnell led with the Thursday security scare at the Capitol, and raised the subject of the shutdown by asking, "Is it true the Capitol Police are working without pay because of the budget shutdown?" Once the San Francisco liberal confirmed that this was the case, King began pursuing her about her role in the shutdown:

GAYLE KING: ...What do you say to people that say, just work it out, without going into the tit for tat that seems to be going on both sides? What will it take, Madame Speaker, to resolve this issue?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Well, it will take some – coming together on the Republican side. It's very hard to negotiate with the Republicans when they can’t negotiate with themselves. But having said that-
                                       
KING: I know, but they're saying the same thing about you guys, too.

PELOSI: No, it isn't; no, it isn't. We have – four times – brought to the floor their bill and voted 100 percent for their bill, and they still won't take yes for an answer. But let's take a deep breath on this. We have a serious matter. Our government is shut down. The – the default on our full faith and credit is at risk. And so, we have to find a path. And so, we have...said to the Speaker, we will accept your bill – we don't like the bill....But we will accept that in order to go forward. But they do not have, within their own ranks, the ability to take yes for an answer-

KING: I know. A good friend of mine said, in any negotiation, both sides have to be willing to leave something on the table.

PELOSI: That's right, and that's why we agreed to their number...which we don't like. We've always said to them, we'll help you procedurally; we'll help you substantively....

Mason continued with his citation of Harry Reid and Pelosi's name-calling. The former House Speaker answer by launching more attacks against her Republican opponents:

PELOSI: Well, the fact is that there are, within the ranks of the Republican Party – and this is the bigger picture that the Republican Party has to deal with, and has an impact on our country – if you don't believe in a government role, then it's easy for you to say, in order to lift the debt ceiling, we want to eliminate all EPA rules for clean air, clean water, and the rest....You have to come to a conclusion. Sandy aid – fewer than 20 percent of the Republicans voted for Sandy aid. They have something going on there. I say Republicans, take back your party.

O'Donnell then asked her "grand bargain" question. Pelosi replied that "the President already has in the budget that he agreed to in 2011. That isn't a happy scenario for our members, but...nonetheless, it was part of a grand bargain, and it all depends on what the bargain is."

Near the end of the segment, King hounded her one more time, pointing out that Pelosi has "five children, and you're used to squabbling. In one sentence, what would you say to your children if they were behaving the way the Democrats and the Republicans are behaving?" The liberal guest replied by actually pointing a finger at the left-leaning press: "Well, I don't agree to your stipulation of behavior. The President of the United States has gone forward with – extending the hand of friendship over and over. I think that has been lost in the news."

Mason interrupted and shot back, "But, at the same time, the President's saying, we won't negotiate, and he's taking criticism for that." Pelosi stuck to her talking points, but King came right back: "To the people outside, it really just does seem like white noise. It just seems like, you say something; they say something...And the people are just saying, you guys, just work it out. That's all I'm saying."

The full transcript of the Nancy Pelosi interview on Friday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: The Capitol Police are working without pay right now because of the partial government shutdown.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, is here this morning. She was on Capitol Hill yesterday with other congressional leaders as the chase happened. Good morning.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Pelosi's View: House Minority Leader On Capitol Hill Shooting"]

O'DONNELL: This was very scary yesterday when we first heard about these shot fired – shots were fired. You were inside the Capitol. Were lawmakers worried that they might be under attack?

PELOSI: Well, the responsibility of the Capitol Police – to protect the tourists, the visitors, the press, the members of Congress – is a large one, and high-tension wires go up, of course, when shots are fired. And so, I was on the floor. [Rep.] John Lewis came in, and – saying, they made us all come inside because of what's going on there. It wasn't later – until later that we learned what it was. It's very tragic – so sad.

O'DONNELL: Is it true the Capitol Police are working without pay because of the budget shutdown?

PELOSI: Yes, yes, yes. Well, hopefully, we can compensate them retroactively. But the capitol is open, people are coming – they need to be protected.

GAYLE KING: And what do you say to people that just – you know, every side has their own position. What do you say to people that say, just work it out, without going into the tit for tat that seems to be going on both sides? What will it take, Madame Speaker, to resolve this issue?

PELOSI: Well, it will take some – coming together on the Republican side. It's very hard to negotiate with the Republicans when they can’t negotiate with themselves. But having said that-

[CBS News Graphic: "Feel About Washington? Satisfied, 8%; Dissatisfied or angry, 87%; Source: CBS News Poll: Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]
                                        
KING: I know, but they're saying the same thing about you guys, too.

PELOSI: No, it isn't; no, it isn't. We have – four times – brought to the floor their bill and voted 100 percent for their bill, and they still won't take yes for an answer. But let's take a deep breath on this. We have a serious matter. Our government is shut down. The – the default on our full faith and credit is at risk. And so, we have to find a path. And so, we have gone to the steps of the Capitol, and said to the Speaker, we will accept your bill – we don't like the bill. We think that – we agree with their Republican chairman that it is not adequate to do the job that we're supposed to do for the American people. But we will accept that in order to go forward. But they do not have, within their own ranks, the ability to take yes for an answer-

[CBS News Graphic: "Pelosi's View: House Minority Leader On Shutdown Stalemate"]

KING: I know. A good friend of mine said, in any negotiation, both sides have to be willing to leave something on the table.

PELOSI: That's right, and that's why we agreed to their number – we don't – which we don't like. We've always said to them, we'll help you procedurally; we'll help you substantively – and frankly, on the table – and I think we should take the subject of the full faith and credit. That shouldn't even be a debate-

O'DONNELL The debt ceiling-

[CBS News Graphic: "In Budget Negotiations, Pres. Obama & Democrats Should...: Compromise, 76%; Stick to positions, 21%; Source: CBS News Poll: Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

ANTHONY MASON: But, I mean, the dialogue here – I mean, Senator [Harry] Reid called some Republicans anarchists. You've called them arsonists. How do you get-

PELOSI: And that's (unintelligible)-

MASON: How do you get a meeting of the minds when people are talking like that?

PELOSI: Well, the fact is that there are, within the ranks of the Republican Party – and this is the bigger picture that the Republican Party has to deal with, and has an impact on our country – if you don't believe in a government role, then it's easy for you to say, in order to lift the debt ceiling, we want to eliminate all EPA rules for clean air, clean water, and the rest.

I want to remind you: yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the President signing the TARP bill – President Bush signing the TARP bill. It was a terrible situation. Government was in meltdown. We didn't approve of the Bush policies that got us there in the first place. We didn't even like the bill he sent us. But it was essential for our economy, and for our financial industry –  for our services industry – for us to – to make that vote. The Republicans abandoned their own president, because they don't believe in a government role. We saved the day with 170 Democratic votes.

You have to – you have to come to a conclusion. Sandy aid – fewer than 20 percent of the Republicans voted for Sandy aid. They have something going on there. I say Republicans, take back your party.

[CBS News Graphic: "In Budget Negotiations, Congressional Republicans Should...: Compromise, 78%; Stick to positions, 18%; Source: CBS News Poll: Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

O'DONNELL: I want to get to why you're here in New York, but very quickly first, do you see a scenario, though, where Democrats would be willing to give on a larger budget deal – the grand bargain coming back, and giving on entitlements, so that we can move forward?

PELOSI: Well, the President already has in the budget that he agreed to in 2011. That isn't a happy scenario for our – our members, but the – nonetheless, it was part of a grand bargain, and it all depends on what the bargain is. But our attitude – we go to the table saying that if you want to talk about the solvency of Social Security, talk about that, and that – all the money saved should go back into Social Security – and the same thing for Medicare.

I'm here today – and I'm excited about it, because we haven't – even though government is shut down, we still have to think and imagine new ways about how to make the future better.

O'DONNELL: So, you're here for a women's economic agenda. Tell us about that.

[CBS News Graphic: "Pelosi's View: House Minority Leader On Top Issues Facing Women"]
    
PELOSI: It's called, 'When Women Succeed, America Succeeds', and it's about women in the workplace. Three simple things: equal pay and raising the minimum wage – so pay equity; secondly, paid sick leave – earned, paid sick leave; and third, child care. We think that this would unleash the power of women in our economy – and men too. They need paid leave and sick – child care. So, we're very excited about the response we've received all over the country to this. And, by the way, it will lift our GDP by two or three points if women are more empowered.

[CBS News Graphic: "Top Issues For Women; - Equal pay; -Protect jobs for pregnant women & mothers; -Protect Medicare benefits; Source: Democracy Corps; Margin of Error: +/- 3.2% Pts."]

KING: Before you go, Congresswoman, you have – you have five children, and you're used to squabbling. In one sentence, what would you say to your children if they were behaving the way the Democrats and the Republicans are behaving? What would you say?

PELOSI: Well, I don't agree to your stipulation of behavior. The President of the United States has gone forward with – extending the hand of friendship over and over. I think that has been lost in the news. But if you say to the President, we only will open [the] government if you eliminate the Affordable Care Act, that's just a non-starter.

MASON: But, at the same time, the President's saying, we won't negotiate, and he's taking criticism for that-

PELOSI: No, no, no, no. Here's what the President has said. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not negotiable. Everything else in a budget is that. But they have to come – they can't say our first premise is, you have to overturn the Affordable Care Act. That's – think of yourself in your own lives. If you divorce – if you divorce your husband, we can have this conversation-

KING: I hear you so loud and clear, but to the people outside, it really just does seem like white noise. It just seems like, you say something; they say something; you say something; we say something. And the people are just saying, you guys, just work it out. That's all I'm saying.

PELOSI: I agree with you. I agree that it seems that way-

KING: Yes, yes. That's the way it is. Okay, okay-

PELOSI: But that doesn't mean that we fold when it comes to the well-being of our children. And what they are doing is really very, very harmful – have we'd gone forward. Having said that, let's find a path to get this done. The Speaker has said he wants to do something in a bipartisan way. I asked him as recently as yesterday, can we sit down and talk about that? Hopefully, we will be able to today after he meets with our caucus. But our caucus has agreed to their number. The President has been most open. But he's not going to have the full faith and credit of the United States-

O'DONNELL: Well, we'll be watching-

KING: Well, people can say you certainly know something about compromise. You just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary, and that means compromise!

MASON: Congratulations!

PELOSI: It means happiness-

KING: Congratulations to you and Mr. Pelosi-

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.