Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on Fox News' 'The Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

CBS Trumpets 'Historic' Federal Marijuana Decision; Leaves Out Opponents

Friday's CBS This Morning ballyhooed the Justice Department's recent move to relax enforcement of laws against marijuana in the several states that have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug. Gayle King heralded the "historic new regulations", while Bill Whitaker failed to include talking heads who oppose this move by the Obama administration [MP3 audio available here; video below].

By contrast, ABC and NBC's morning newscasts minimized their coverage of the story on Friday. ABC's Good Morning America granted a mere 17 seconds of air time to the federal government's decision, while devoting 25 seconds to the plight of two kittens that strayed onto subway tracks in New York City.

Besides her "historic" label, King pointed out in her lead in for the correspondent's report that "the new rules roll back 75 years of federal policy." Whitaker first outlined that "since voting to permit recreational use of marijuana last year, citizens of Washington and Colorado have been under a cloud of legal confusion. The two states call this activity legal. The federal government says it's illegal. Now, the Justice Department is trying to clear the air. The Department will no longer prosecute, as long as states follow eight strict guidelines."

The CBS journalist continued by playing three straight soundbites from supporters of the Justice Department's announcement – Brian Vincente of the organization Sensible Colorado; Democrat Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington; and Tom Angell of the group Marijuana Majority. Angell actually criticized the Obama White House from the left in his clip:

TOM ANGELL, "MARIJUANA MAJORITY": In 2009, they released a similar memo saying that they would respect state medical marijuana laws. But unfortunately, since that time, the Obama administration has overseen the closure of more state legal medical marijuana businesses than were closed during two terms of the Bush administration.

Whitaker concluded the segment by underlining that "supporters of legalization say this could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana."

CBS has boosted marijuana use in the past. Back in 2009, The Early Show (the previous name of the network's morning show) spotlighted a California mother who gave her autistic son medical marijuana.

The full transcript of Bill Whitaker's report from Friday's CBS This Morning:

GAYLE KING: The Justice Department has announced historic new regulations giving states the power to regulate marijuana use. The changes affect 20 states with medical marijuana laws on the books, plus Washington, D.C.; and two other states that allow recreational pot use.

As Bill Whitaker reports, the new rules roll back 75 years of federal policy.

[CBS News Graphic: "Clearing The Air: Justice Dept. Won't Challenge State Pot Laws"]

BILL WHITAKER (voice-over): Since voting to permit recreational use of marijuana last year, citizens of Washington and Colorado have been under a cloud of legal confusion. The two states call this activity legal. The federal government says it's illegal.

Now, the Justice Department is trying to clear the air. The Department will no longer prosecute, as long as states follow eight strict guidelines, including preventing marijuana distribution to minors; preventing revenue from going to gangs and cartels; preventing trafficking across state lines.

BRIAN VICENTE, "SENSIBLE COLORADO": Shop owners in Colorado and the medical marijuana patients, and even just marijuana consumers can really sleep a little easier tonight.

GOV. JAY INSLEE, (D), WASHINGTON (from press conference): I think that this is a very carefully calibrated and very common-sense approach by the federal government – to, really, respect something that has been successful for many years in our country, which is to allow states to be the laboratories of democracy.

WHITAKER: In addition to Washington and Colorado's experiment with recreational marijuana, 20 states and the District of Columbia now allow the medical use of the drug. The Justice Department is not giving states free rein. It's just loosening the reins a bit.

TOM ANGELL, "MARIJUANA MAJORITY": In 2009, they released a similar memo saying that they would respect state medical marijuana laws. But unfortunately, since that time, the Obama administration has overseen the closure of more state legal medical marijuana businesses than were closed during two terms of the Bush administration.

WHITAKER: Still, supporters of legalization say this could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana. For 'CBS This Morning', Bill Whitaker, Los Angeles.

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