CBS Uncritically Promotes Obama Campaign's Attack Hinting Romney is 'Less than Truthful'
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted that the Obama campaign is "turning lemons into lemonade" as she reported that the Democratic operation is "arguing that Romney had a great performance at the debate, but only because he was untethered from the truth." Not once did the correspondent or colleagues Norah O'Donnell and Bill Plante critically examine the claims from the incumbent or his operatives.
O'Donnell even spotlighted how "we heard David Axelrod say that they're going to change some things. They're even suggesting that Mitt Romney is a liar for what he said in the debate."
In his lead-in for Cordes's report, anchor Charlie Rose noted how "President Obama did something his critics say he did not do on Wednesday: he came out swinging." O'Donnell added that "on Thursday, the President accused Governor Mitt Romney of not being honest with the American people."
The correspondent then gave her "lemons into lemonade" line and "untethered from the truth" lines. During the pre-recorded segment, Cordes played up how "a different President Obama emerged on Thursday - more aggressive and combative, and ready to respond to his Republican opponent." Between two sound bites from the Democrat, she pointed out the "new line of attack the President used all day...about Mitt Romney being less than truthful with the American people."
Near the end of her report, the CBS journalist negatively spun how Mitt Romney admitted he "completely wrong" about the"47 percent" secret recording that somehow warranted 88 minutes of coverage over three days on the Big Three networks: "Last night on Fox News, Romney did something he has refused to do before: disavow his controversial comments denigrating 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes....In the past, Romney was only willing to say that those comments were inelegant. Now, he's calling them flat wrong."
O'Donnell brought on Plante after Cordes's report. The veteran White House correspondent emphasized how his unnamed Democratic sources were "simply upset and really outraged" over the President's lackluster performance at the presidential debate, and that they "blame the President's team...for not preparing him to meet the challenge of an aggressive Mitt Romney....But they also fault the President himself for not understanding that Romney was going to be more aggressive."
To their credit, Cordes and Plante did spotlight negative attention on Vice President Biden for his latest misstep - this time on the issue of taxes - and over his upcoming debate Paul Ryan.
The full transcript of the Nancy Cordes and Bill Plante segments, which ran back-to-back on Friday's CBS This Morning:
CHARLIE ROSE: The presidential candidates are picking up the pace, looking for momentum after their first debate. President Obama did something his critics say he did not do on Wednesday: he came out swinging.
NORAH O'DONNELL: On Thursday, the President accused Governor Mitt Romney of not being honest with the American people.
Nancy Cordes is at the White House, after covering the Obama campaign on the road all this week. Nancy, good morning.
[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Obama Comes Out Swinging On Trail"]
NANCY CORDES: Good morning to you, Norah and Charlie. Well, this is the Obama campaign's way of turning lemons into lemonade. Out on the campaign trail, in a new campaign ad, they are arguing that Romney had a great performance at the debate, but only because he was untethered from the truth. (clip of crowd chanting "four more years" at Obama campaign event)
CORDES (voice-over): A different President Obama emerged on Thursday - more aggressive and combative, and ready to respond to his Republican opponent.
OBAMA: Governor Romney may dance around his positions. He may do a tap dance and a two-step. But if you want to be President, then you owe the American people the truth.
CORDES: It was a new line of attack the President used all day - before 30,000 supporters in Wisconsin, and earlier in Denver - about Mitt Romney being less than truthful with the American people.
OBAMA: The real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts to favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that.
CORDES: The President was trying to land some of the punches he missed in the debate. But on a day that was already a tough one for the campaign, the Vice President didn't make things easier.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN (from campaign event): We're going to ask the wealthy to pay more – my heart breaks.
CORDES: Campaigning in Iowa, Biden implied that he and the President want to raise taxes.
BIDEN: You know the phrase they always use? Obama and Biden want to raise taxes by a trillion dollars. Guess what? Yes, we do, in one regard. We want to let that trillion-dollar tax cut expire, so the middle class doesn't have to bear the burden of all that money going to the super wealthy. (audience cheers and applauds) That's not a tax raise! That's called fairness where I come from.
PAUL RYAN, (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (from campaign event): Mitt Romney!
CORDES: On the road in Virginia, Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, took turns attacking that message.
ROMNEY: Vice President Biden blurted out the truth today. They plan on raising taxes on the American people, and that will kill jobs. We will not let that happen. We want to create jobs, not kill jobs in this country. (audience cheers and applauds)
CORDES: Last night on Fox News, Romney did something he has refused to do before: disavow his controversial comments denigrating 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes.
[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Romney: '47%' Comment Was 'Wrong'"]
ROMNEY (from interview on Fox News's "Hannity"): In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong, and – I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about a hundred percent, and that's been demonstrated throughout my life.
CORDES (on-camera): In the past, Romney was only willing to say that those comments were inelegant. Now, he's calling them flat wrong. It's a mea culpa he was probably prepared to deliver at the debate Wednesday night, but President Obama never brought the comments up - much to the surprise, Norah and Charlie, of both campaigns.
O'DONNELL: Nancy Cordes, thank you. And, on that note, after the President's performance on Wednesday, some Democrats say his campaign needs a wake up call.
Bill Plante is here with that part of the story. Bill, you've been talking to your sources. What are they saying?
[CBS News Graphic: "Blame Game: Dems Look At Obama Team For Debate Answers"]
BILL PLANTE: Well, Norah, they're simply upset and really outraged. They blame the President's team, first of all, for not preparing him to meet the challenge of an aggressive Mitt Romney. They say that nobody in the room challenged him, including the guy that he was debating with, John Kerry, because, as they say, he wants to be secretary of state. So, he's not going to get in the President's face. And presidents are used to deference. They're not used to people challenging them like that. So, they think that the debate prep was terrible. But they also fault the President himself for not understanding that Romney was going to be more aggressive.
O'DONNELL: But how could they underestimate that Mitt Romney would come out with a stronger debate performance?
PLANTE: This was about the President's - I'm told - real preference, to try to remain low key-
PLANTE: And that's something that his advisers probably couldn't change.
O'DONNELL: So, what are they going to do now? We heard David Axelrod say that they're going to change some things. They're even suggesting that Mitt Romney is a liar for what he said in the debate. What are they going to – how are they going change things the next debate?
PLANTE: Well, they're going to ramp it up. They've got to figure out a way - as these people I was talking to say - for the President to bring it in the next debate, without appearing unpresidential.
But here's the thing: they're also really worried about next week's debate between [Paul] Ryan and [Joe] Biden. They're afraid that the 42-year-old Ryan is going make the 69-year-old Biden look kind of out of touch. And they say if that happens, we're in real trouble.
O'DONNELL: All right. Bill Plante, thank you very much.