Norah O'Donnell shamelessly forwarded President Obama's gun control talking points on Tuesday's CBS This Morning as she interviewed Republican Senator Johnny Isakson: "Do you think your fellow Republicans owe the families of these Newtown victims a vote?" Mere hours earlier, at a pro-gun control rally in Connecticut, the President pointed out, "I said in my State of the Union address...that families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson...all deserved a vote." [audio available here; video below]
Gayle King also spotlighted how the massacre victims' relatives were meeting with Senator Isakson, and wondered, "What do you plan to say to them?"
O'Donnell led the interview of the Georgia senator with her biased question. Isakson, who is on the record of supporting "pro-Second Amendment legislation", replied that "there's no ambivalence on the gun issue. I think everybody knows what the issues are. We have not seen the final draft of the legislation that was produced...but I think it deserves a vote up or down." King then followed up by asking about her guest's upcoming meeting with the Sandy Hook families. The Republican answered that "they deserve a right to be able to sit down and talk with me, and I gave them that right and will be happy to meet with them."
Moments later, co-anchor Charlie Rose pressed Isakson about background checks. Isakson emphasized that "I stand for the Second Amendment...I want our people to have unfettered access to be able to exercise their constitutional right; but also, if somebody is a felon...I don't think they should be able to make a purchase."
Rose also raised the chief executive's Wednesday night dinner with a number of senators and wondered if "the President...is showing more initiative, in terms of reaching out to Republicans, than he has before; and do you believe it might have consequences for him – positive consequences?"
The Isakson segment is just the latest in slanted interviews for the CBS morning show. Over a month earlier, on the February 26, 2013 edition of CBS This Morning, Rose and O'Donnell conducted a confrontational interview of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Republican Conference, on the sequester. By contrast, all three CBS anchors fawned over Caroline Kennedy a few days later on March 8. Rose even wondered if Kennedy might run for president.
The full transcript of the interview of Senator Johnny Isakson on Tuesday's CBS This Morning:
NORAH O'DONNELL: Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson is also on Capitol Hill. Senator, good morning.
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON, (R), GEORGIA: Good morning.
[CBS News Graphic: "Gun Control Push: Georgia GOP Senator On Possible Legislation"]
O'DONNELL: We invited Senate [Minority] Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as 13 other Republican senators who have vowed to filibuster any gun control legislation. All of them declined. Do you think your fellow Republicans owe the families of these Newtown victims a vote?
ISAKSON: Well, I'll speak for myself on that question. There's no – there's no ambivalence on the gun issue. I think everybody knows what the issues are. We have not seen the final draft of the legislation that was produced, I understand, last night, but I think it deserves a vote up or down.
GAYLE KING: We've heard, Senator, that you're planning to meet with the families later today. You know what they want. What do you plan to say to them?
ISAKSON: Well, first of all, the heart of every – the heart and soul of every American goes out to the families of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook. They deserve a right to be able to sit down and talk with me, and I gave them that right and will be happy to meet with them.
CHARLIE ROSE: There's a lot of pressure coming from all sides on this. Is it having an impact – from the NRA to gun rights organizations?
ISAKSON: Well, it's having an impact. It's getting the phones to ring, and they're ringing on both sides. Michael Bloomberg was running ads back in Georgia, telling everybody to call Senator [Saxby] Chambliss and myself. I know there are other programs going on to drive the phone calls, and that's – they're doing their job.
You know, there are two amendments at issue here: one's the First Amendment, that you enjoy, the freedom of speech. That's what they're enjoying. The second is the right to bear arms, which is the whole issue, in terms of the gun control.
ROSE: Where do you stand on background checks?
ISAKSON: Instant background check law in Georgia, I was a part of, in 1995 when it passed. The issue on instant background – on background checks now is how far they go, and whether or not they violate rights to privacy, in terms of mental health. I've just got to see the language that they finally come up with to see what it does.
[CBS News Graphic: "Background Checks On All Potential Gun Buyers? Favor, 91%; Oppose, 7%; Source: CBS News Poll, February 6-10; Margin Of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]
ROSE: So, you're looking for a way to approve background checks?
ISAKSON: I'm looking for a way to do what's right for the people of Georgia. I stand for the Second Amendment. I don't want to – I want our people to have unfettered access to be able to exercise their constitutional right; but also, if somebody is a felon and it's – it's known, I don't think they should be able to make a purchase.
[CBS News Graphic: "Background Check Information May Lead To Gun Confiscation? Yes, 48%; No, 38%; Don't Know, 14%; Source: Quinnipiac University Poll, March 26-April 1; Margin Of Error: +/- 2.37% Pts."]
O'DONNELL: Senator, you are organizing a guest list for dinner with President Obama tomorrow night – on Wednesday night. On gun control, do you expect him to pressure a number of your Republican senators who have been vowing to block this legislation?
ISAKSON: I don't know what to expect, except that I think more of our talk is going to be about the budget; about debt; about deficit; about reform of entitlements; about getting our arms around the biggest problem that faces this country. That's what I hope it's about, and that's what I believe it will be about.
ROSE: Do you believe that the President today is showing more initiative, in terms of reaching out to Republicans, than he has before; and do you believe it might have consequences for him – positive consequences?
[CBS News Graphic: "President Obama's Handling Of Gun Policy: Disapprove, 52%; Approve, 45%; Source: CNN/ORC Poll; Margin Of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]
ISAKSON: He is reaching out more than in the past. There's no question about that. The proof will be in the pudding later on – I certainly hope, at least, us finding common ground. I'm one of those people that believes you're always going to have differences with the other side – maybe 20 percent, maybe 30 percent. But if you can find 70 or 80 percent common ground, that's a victory. And when it comes to reducing our deficit; reducing our debt; getting our fiscal house in order, we need to do that for the American people, and we need to do it now.
ROSE: Senator, the other question that comes up, in terms of the budget, is whether the President is also being specific now in ways that he hasn't been before and that puts the burden on Republicans to respond.
ISAKSON: Well, if you're ever negotiating to find common ground, it's up to both sides to put offers on the table, and I intend to bring suggestions tomorrow night at the white house when he with have our dinner to do just exactly that.
ROSE: Senator, thank you so much.
ISAKSON: Thank you very much – good to be with you.