CBS This Morning co-anchor Charlie Rose on Thursday uncritically hyped an attack by Eric Holder that implied racism as the motive for Republican opposition to him and Barack Obama. Before playing a clip of the Attorney General speaking at Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) conference, Rose promoted, "Attorney General Eric Holder is lashing out at the culture on Capitol Hill. Holder lost his cool at Tuesday's House judiciary hearing." [MP3 audio here.]
Rose then showed an uninterrupted, 40 second snippet of the Attorney General assailing the "unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive" insults he and the President endured. Holder complained, "What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?" Behind Holder, NAN logos and the phrase "no justice, no peace" could be seen. Rose offered no skepticism to this implication of racism by the Attorney General.
Apparently Holder and Rose have a short memory. On December 22, 2000, then-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather sounded the alarm on John Ashcroft, George W. Bush's nominee for attorney general:
DAN RATHER: Good evening. Anti-abortion groups and the self-described Religious Right could not be happier with President-elect George Bush’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General. Bush today named John Ashcroft, a just-defeated Republican Senator from Missouri known for his tough anti-abortion stand. Planned Parenthood immediately urged Congress not to confirm him. Bush also named New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, who supports abortion rights, for a post with no role in abortion policy. She was picked to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Time magazine's January 22, 2001 issue featured a scary-looking picture of Ashcroft with the all-caps question: "SHOULD THIS MAN BE ATTORNEY GENERAL?"
On Thursday, Rose summarized a verbal battle between Holder and Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert. Gohmert mentioned a contempt vote against Holder from two years ago and "suggested that being held in contempt was no big deal to Holder." At no time did Rose play any clips of Gohmert making his case.
Yet, he allowed Holder to lash out, featuring this clip of him speaking in the third person: "You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee."
In 2011 and 2012, CBS was the only network to seriously cover Holder's Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. This was mainly due to the persistence of one correspondent, Sharyl Attkisson. Yet, her reporting slowed to a crawl and ultimately the journalist left after a dispute with the network.
A transcript of the April 10 segment is below:
CBS GRAPHIC: Holder V. Gohmert: Attorney General Responds to Treatment in the House
CHARLIE ROSE: Attorney General Eric Holder is lashing out at the culture on Capitol Hill. Holder lost his cool at Tuesday's House judiciary hearing. Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert brought up a contempt vote against Holder two years ago. Gohmert suggested that being held in contempt was no big deal to Holder. Holder said yesterday that he and the President faced opposition from Congress that other presidents never encountered.
ERIC HOLDER [At National Action Network conference]: The last five years have been defined by significant strides and lasting reforms. Even in the face – even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity. If you don't believe that, you look at the way – forget about me. Forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. It has nothing to do with me. Forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?
ROSE: Holder was speaking at a civil rights convention in new York City.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Al Sharpton's convention, right? I think it was Al Sharpton's. Yeah. All right.
GAYLE KING: In New York. That is under way this week. So, you're absolutely right.