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Embarrassing Conduct by Schieffer: Cues Up Biden to Pontificate, But Argues with Gingrich

An embarrassing performance Sunday for CBS’s Bob Schieffer in the debut of the new hour-long format for Face the Nation. At least he should be embarrassed by the contrast in how he played sycophant to Vice President Joe Biden, treating him as an oracle of wisdom, while not being nearly so coddling with Newt Gingrich who he corrected and challenged. Schieffer cued up Biden to pontificate:

What’s your take on that?
What did you mean by that?
What do you make of all of that?
What’s your take on that?

To Gingrich, however, he argued with the former Speaker’s points.

Schieffer reminded Biden of how “you really called him [Romney] out the other day for saying the President was out of touch.” The CBS host prompted the Vice President to elaborate: “What did you mean by that?”

In a particularly uninspired “question,” Schieffer inquired: “Are you enjoying this Republican primary? I know you said one day, ‘God love them, I hope they have another twenty debates.’”

Bringing up President Obama’s admission to Russian President Medevdev that he’ll have “more flexibility after the election,” Schieffer noted Romney “said it was alarming.” Schieffer’s question: “What do you make of all of that?”

The Biden session, pre-recorded Friday in Milwaukee, culminated in Schieffer forwarding the liberal framing of the Obama administration’s plan to block the right of religious institutions to not pay for contraception, claiming “the way it’s kind of shaken down, it seems to have sort of gotten Republicans off talking about the economy, and sort of campaigning for against birth control in some funny kind of way. What’s your take on that?”

As if biased media coverage, as exemplified by Schieffer, has nothing to do with that perception.

Up next with Gingrich, Schieffer presented the liberal spin as fact: “Do you think it’s good politics though for Republicans to be sort of campaigning against birth control?” Gingrich retorted: “This is a canard. Nobody is campaigning against birth control.”

Earlier, Schieffer countered a Gingrich point by forcing him to respond to Biden: “He said, though, that Republicans are emasculating all efforts to deal with renewable energy, and that in fact, you have no policy.”

Schieffer soon grew argumentative and defended Obama against criticism on gas prices: “But isn’t it very difficult for this President or any President to bring down gas prices because the big factor here is the fact that the Chinese now need so much oil. You have turmoil in the Middle East. You have this situation going on with Iran. Some of these things the President can’t control.”

On Obama’s slip about post-election flexibility, Schieffer challenged Gingrich: “Nobody ever gets much done in an election year, in Washington. I mean, that’s pretty much a true fact. Wasn’t that really just stating the obvious?”

Schieffer’s “questions” to Vice President Joe Biden:

> You really laid into Governor Romney this week. You said he was consistently wrong about everything. Does this mean that you and the President have decided that Mitt Romney is the nominee, that he’s who you're going to be facing come fall?

> Why do you think he has had such a hard time closing the deal?

> BOB SCHIEFFER: It is very clear how Mitt Romney, if he is the nominee, is going to try to frame this election. He’s going to try it make it a referendum on Barack Obama. Here's what he has been saying.
MITT ROMNEY, March 23: People are unhappy with the results that they've seen so far under this President. Gasoline prices have doubled. The deficit is massively larger. The President said he was going to cut it in a half. He has doubled it. The national debt, the President, by the end of his four years, will have put in almost as much debt on this country as all of the prior presidents combined, and of course, you have twenty-four million people out of work, or underemployed, and so, this presidency has been a failure, and at the centerpiece of this failure is this piece of legislation back here, ObamaCare.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So, what’s your take on that?

> Well, I take your points, but the fact is unemployment did go up after the President took office and so did gas prices.

> Let me go back to health care. Governor Romney continues to say that the centerpiece of President Obama’s failure is health care. We are seeing these arguments in the Supreme Court this week. What do you think the impact would be if the court decides to throw this thing out, or if it just decides to throw out the part about the mandate that you have to buy insurance?

> Well, what would happen, though? I mean, if this whole thing was thrown out? Do you have to start over?

> BOB SCHIEFFER: You called Mitt Romney. You really called him out the other day for saying the President was out of touch. Here’s what you said. I want to play a little what you said.
JOE BIDEN, Wednesday: Governor Romney has called the President of the United States “out of touch.” That's a quote, “out of touch,” for encouraging young people to try to get manufacturing jobs. Out of touch? Romney? [audience laughter] I mean, pretty remarkable, pretty remarkable. As an old friend of mine says, that's chutzpah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What did you mean by that?

> Are you enjoying this Republican primary? I know you said one day, “God love them, I hope they have another twenty debates.”

> Let me ask you about -- we now know about the President's now famous unguarded moment before the microphone when he told the Russian President, look, I'll have more flexibility after the election to deal with missile defenses and so forth. Governor Romney really hit him hard on that. He said it was alarming. He said, what else is he going to be flexible about? What do you make of all of that?

> You know, but doesn’t it play to the Republican allegations, because I hear this from conservatives all the time, if you don’t like Barack Obama now, wait til he gets re-elected because if he’s free to do whatever he wants to do, he is going to raise our taxes. He is going to put in gun control. He is going to do everything from, you know, authorize gay marriage to whatever, just once he gets past that election.

> Mister Vice President, I want to ask you about this whole thing, that's blown up about contraception. My sources tell me that when the President decided the Catholics would have to buy birth control insurance for their employees at their universities and colleges and so forth, that you and Bill Daley were among those who told him this is not a good thing. This is, this is going to cost you votes, but you were on that side of the issue. But since this thing has happened, and the way it's kind of shaken down, it seems to have sort of gotten Republicans off talking about the economy, and sort of campaigning for against birth control in some funny kind of way. What's your take on that?

> What was your, just your personal reaction when you heard about the Robert Bales case, this sergeant, this American sergeant, who killed all of those people in Afghanistan?

> What is our mission now in Afghanistan? How long are we going to be there? And I mean, it seems to me and ever poll suggests, the American people's patience is kind of going thin here.

> You and I have both been in Washington for a long time. What’s happened to our politics, Mister Vice President? It’s just not the way it used to be. Things always looked better in the rear view mirror but–

Schieffer’s to Newt Gingrich:

> You have the awesome responsibility of being the responder to the Vice President this morning. He talked about your proposal to get gas to two dollars and fifty cents a gallon. He said, though, that Republicans are emasculating all efforts to deal with renewable energy, and that in fact, you have no policy.

> Well, I mean, but isn’t it very difficult for this President or any President to bring down gas prices because the big factor here is the fact that the Chinese now need so much oil. You have turmoil in the Middle East. You have this situation going on with Iran. Some of these things the President can’t control.

> Let’s talk a little bit about what Mitt Romney said about the open-mic where Barack Obama told the Russian President, look, give me some space here, I’ll have more flexibility after the election. The Vice President says, look, he is just stating reality.

> Well, but I mean, when he says that, I mean just to be the devil’s advocate here, I mean, it’s, nobody ever gets much done in an election year, in Washington. I mean, that’s pretty much a true fact. Wasn’t that really just stating the obvious? I mean, it’s embarrassing.

> BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think it’s good politics though for Republicans to be sort of campaigning against birth control. I mean, I take your points on the Catholic side of it.
NEWT GINGRICH: Nobody is campaigning. This is a canard. Nobody is campaigning against birth control. And nobody is blocking the young lady who testified from having access to birth control...

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.