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CBS's Plante Trumpets Hunger Strike at Guantanamo: 'Is It Any Surprise...That They Would Prefer Death?'

Bill Plante, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 30 April 2013 White House Press Conference With President Barack Obama | MRC.orgDuring a Tuesday press conference at the White House, CBS's Bill Plante channeled his colleague Bob Schieffer's 2009 "open sore" pronouncement about Guantanamo Bay as he asked President Obama about an ongoing hunger strike among many of the detainees there. Plante hinted at sympathy for the prisoners as he wondered, "Is it any surprise, really, that they would prefer death rather than – have no end in sight to their confinement?"

The correspondent's leading question allowed the President to revisit the issue and call for the closure of the facility, just over three months after his administration closed the office tasked with shuttering the prison camp [audio available here; video below]:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bill Plante.

BILL PLANTE: But President, as you probably are aware, there's a growing hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay among prisoners there. Is it any surprise, really, that they would prefer death rather than – have no end in sight to their confinement?


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, it is not a surprise to me that we've got problems in Guantanamo, which is why when I was campaigning in 2007, in 2008; and when I was elected in 2008, I said we need to close Guantanamo. I continue to believe that we've got to close Guantanamo-

BILL PLANTE: You do?

OBAMA: I think – I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us, in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It's a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.

Plante revisiting the Guantanamo Bay controversy stands out, as CBS, along with its Big Three competitors, completely ignored the January 28, 2013 announcement from the State Department that it was reassigning Daniel Fried, its special envoy for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Back in October 2012, just before the final debate between Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, the MRC's Tim Graham wondered if Schieffer, the moderator, was going to raise the Guantanamo Bay issue with the Democrat, after repeatedly calling for the facility's closure during the presidency of George W. Bush. The veteran CBS anchor didn't raise the issue during the debate, according to the transcript.

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