At the top of a report on CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Whit Johnson proclaimed: "In San Francisco yesterday, they celebrated the end of an era. After nearly two decades, the policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is all but history." The one-sided segment focused almost exclusively on supporters of repeal.
Of the ten sound bites featured throughout the story, only one, that of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, was critical of the policy being overturned. Johnson described how "Opponents of repeal...pleaded that such a dramatic change during a time of two wars would put troops in harm's way." However, after the clip of McCain was played, Johnson dismissed critics of repeal: "Democrats got a boost from a recent Pentagon study in which two-thirds of U.S. troops said changing the controversial law would have little impact, a feeling shared by most of America."
On Monday's Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes went so far as to assert: "The vote was hailed by military leaders, who will now work to undo the Clinton-era policy." Cordes failed to mention any of the military leaders who wanted the policy to remain in place.
Both Johnson and Cordes touted the repeal as a win for Democrats. Concluding his report on Sunday Morning, Johnson announced: "The vote is seen as a major victory for Democrats reeling from a painful November election." On the Early Show, Cordes similarly cheered: "Democrats achieved their longstanding goal of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' just two weeks before an influx of Republicans in Congress would have made it impossible."
Here is a full transcript of Johnson's December 19 Sunday Morning report:
9:03AM ET TEASE:
CHARLES OSGOOD: The Senate yesterday voted to repeal the 17-year-old 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law, clearing the way for gays to serve openly in the military. Civil rights advocates applauded the action. Opponents fear it could weaken the military. President Obama, who supported it, is expected to sign the measure into law later this week. We'll have more on the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in just a few minutes.
9:07AM ET SEGMENT:
CHARLES OSGOOD: As we reported a few minutes ago, the Senate has voted to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' clearing the way for gay men and women to serve openly in the military. Whit Johnson has the story behind the headlines.
EVAN BAYH [SEN. D-IN]: The House Resolution 2965 is adopted.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
WHIT JOHNSON: In San Francisco yesterday, they celebrated the end of an era. After nearly two decades, the policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is all but history. An overwhelming moment for retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning, who has worked to repeal the law since its beginning.ZOE DUNNING: It's very emotional. And I just had an active duty service member, who has done three tours overseas and has served for 11 years, with tears in his eyes, thank me. You can't ask for more than that.MIKE ALMAY: The principle core value of the Air Force is integrity first.JOHNSON: Former Major Mike Almay served in the Air Force for 13 years until his superiors read his emails, determined that he was gay and he was discharged. He came to Capitol Hill to watch Congress vote.ALMAY: Soon we can serve in the military without having to sacrifice our honor, our integrity, without having to lie every day about who we are.BAYH: The yeas are 65. The nays 31.JOHNSON: The bill passed with 65 votes. Eight of them Republican. Including Maine Senator Susan Collins.SUSAN COLLINS [SEN. R-ME]: We should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing to put on the uniform of this country, fight for us in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and put freedom on the line for us.JOHNSON: Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman called it one of the best days of his 22 years in the Senate.JOE LIEBERMAN [SEN. I-CT]: We're going to be true to what America is supposed to be about. We're supposed to be about not who you are but how you do your job. And you know, gay and lesbian Americans in the military will not be seen as gays and lesbians. They'll be seen as what they are: American soldiers.JOHNSON: Opponents of repeal, led by Arizona Senator John McCain, pleaded that such a dramatic change during a time of two wars would put troops in harm's way.JOHN MCCAIN [SEN. R-AZ]: I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage.
JOHNSON: In the weeks leading up to the vote, Democrats got a boost from a recent Pentagon study in which two-thirds of U.S. troops said changing the controversial law would have little impact, a feeling shared by most of America. A CBS News poll earlier this month found that 69% of Americans support allowing gay men and women to serve openly. That's up from 42% in 1993. The year 'Don't As, Don't Tell' was implemented under President Clinton.BILL CLINTON: The issue is whether men and women who can and have served with real distinction should be excluded from military service solely on the basis of their status.JOHNSON: Until that point, homosexuals were barred from serving in the armed forces. But since then, more than 13,000 service members revealed to be gay have been ousted from the military. President Obama has made repeal a priority.BARACK OBAMA: This year I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.JOHNSON: Later this week, the President is expected to sign the bill into law. After the President's signature, the Pentagon will begin an implementation plan, followed by a 60-day waiting period, all of which could take up to a year. Still, the vote is seen as a major victory for Democrats reeling from a painful November election. And an even bigger win for those like Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, he's been fighting discharge for two-and-a-half years.VICTOR FEHRENBACH: On Tuesday, I put my flight suit back on and I go back and work as I have for the past 191/2 years, proudly.
Here is a full transcript of Cordes's December 20 Early Show report:
JEFF GLOR: Now to politics, the heated debate over a new arms control treaty with Russia continues today and President Obama says he'll sign the law clearing the way for gays to serve in the military. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes has the latest from Capitol Hill this morning. Nancy, good morning to you.
NANCY CORDES: Jeff, good morning. Eight Republicans joined nearly every Democrat in the Senate this weekend in voting to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which the President called 'a crucial step for civil rights.'
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Clock's Ticking on Capitol Hill; Packed Agenda Looms For Lame Duck Session]
EVAN BAYH [SEN. D-IN]: 2965 is adopted.
CORDES: Democrats achieved their longstanding goal of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' just two weeks before an influx of Republicans in Congress would have made it impossible.
JOE LIEBERMAN [SEN. I-CT]: Really just two-thirds of the senators voting, voting for repeal, was a thrilling day, honestly one of my best days in my 22 years in the Senate.
CORDES: The vote was hailed by military leaders, who will now work to undo the Clinton-era policy. Many Republicans had argued the process would be a distraction in wartime. As soon as the vote was over, senators turned to another military matter, whether to ratify the START arms treaty with Russia. It would set a limit on both countries' nuclear warhead stockpile at 1,550, down from 2,200. And set up a system to monitor those reductions.
JEFF SESSIONS [SEN. R-AL]: This is a big mistake.
CORDES: Skeptical Republicans argued the treaty would limit U.S. missile defense options.
MITCH MCCONNELL [SEN. R-KY]: I've decided I cannot support the treaty. I think the verification provisions are inadequate.
CORDES: Inspections ended a year ago, when a 1991 treaty expired. Failure to ratify this treaty would be a serious blow to President Obama's foreign policy agenda.
JOHN KERRY [SEN. D-MA]: There is nothing in there that restricts our missile defense system. The President made that crystal clear.
CORDES: With the holidays approaching, Democrats are hoping to hold a vote soon so they can turn to one last priority, a $6.2 billion bill to provide medical care for firefighters and other emergency responders to the 9/11 attacks.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND [SEN. D-NY]: America will be watching very closely to how this Senate votes on something that goes to the fundamental issue of who we are as Americans and whether we stand by our heroes.
CORDES: The two New York senators dropped the cost of that bill by about a billion dollars and changed the way that they paid for it, which they hope will help them to win over some Republicans who are worried about the price tag. Back to you.
GLOR: Nancy Cordes in Washington this morning, Nancy, thank you very much.
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.