Harry Smith, Liberal Blast From CBS's Past

On Monday, A&E Biography host Harry Smith will join Julie Chen, Hannah Storm and Rene Syler at the helm of CBS's ratings-challenged Early Show. For those who dislike having a liberal agenda thrust upon them while still half-asleep, Smith's return is a bad omen: Odds are he will indulge in the same sort of liberal pontificating as he did until 1996 as host of the Early Show's predecessor, CBS This Morning.

During his This Morning tenure, Smith repeatedly condemned the 1980s as "the decade of greed" while scolding how "we continue to dirty our planet like there was no tomorrow." Reviewing the first President Bush's 1990 State of the Union, Smith spun like a Democratic operative: "The President was remarkably upbeat for a man who runs a country with a monstrous national debt, huge balance of trade problems, a crumbling infrastructure, dirty air, countless homeless people..."

As a public service, here's a reminder of what mornings were like when CBS News gave Harry Smith a forum to promote his liberal views:

• Freedom isn't so great. On February 9, 1990, Smith questioned the rush for freedom in the Soviet Union: "Yes, somehow, Soviet citizens are freer these days - freer to kill one another, freer to hate Jews....Doing away with totalitarianism and adding a dash of democracy seems an unlikely cure for all that ails the Soviet Union." Smith also argued personal rights protected by the 2nd Amendment should be jettisoned for the sake of public safety (see box).

• Socialism solves problems. "This morning, we're taking a close look at the problem of child care, a problem some countries are solving," Smith announced on the February 21, 1996 This Morning. Describing the French system of high taxes and benefits doled out by the state in fawning terms, Smith served up a softball to a guest from the liberal Families and Work Institute: "In the United States, are we just not willing to pay for child care?"

• Ronald Reagan's presidency was a disaster. "We have seen in the past, during the Reagan-Bush administration days, when huge [budget] slashes went through, when entire programs were dismantled, and what ends up being left sometimes in its wake is the sort of vacuum and chaos and even more problems than were there to begin with," Smith declared on September 8, 1993.

• The 1994 Contract with America would be like awful Reaganomics. Smith posed a series of hostile questions to Newt Gingrich on September 30, 1994: "Among the things you talk about wanting to do - raise defense spending, cut taxes, balance the budget - but did you all neglect to figure out how to pay for all of that?...The real deal here, if we're talking about Reaganomics, which this seems to be harkening back to, [is] tax cuts for the rich and everything else.... You're talking back to the days when budget deficits ran out of control."

• Liberal Mario Cuomo must rise again: "The sense of the promise that you may have been able to deliver to people, your eloquence, your intelligence, that did not translate, for lack of a better term, into dynamic governance," Smith lamented to the defeated New York Governor on December 30, 1994. He pleaded with Cuomo: "Will you continue to use this passion, will you continue to use this eloquence?"

In Smith's mind, the U.S. is a land of haters: "America turns thousands of innocent black children into cast-offs. It's one of the accomplishments of America's system of apartheid," he scolded on March 2, 1990. It's almost enough to make you miss Bryant Gumbel. - Brent Baker and Rich Noyes