CBS Hounds House GOP Leader on Sequester; Plays Up Poll Laying Blame on Republicans

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (R), Washington; Norah O'Donnell, CBS News Anchor; & Charlie Rose, CBS News Anchor; Screen Cap From 26 February 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | MRC.orgOn Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell stayed true to form in conducting a tag team-style, confrontational interview of a conservative/Republican, this time House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The anchors pressed Rep. Rodgers about a recent Pew Research/Washington Post poll that, in their words, indicates "the public is going to blame Republicans" for the sequester.

At one point in the segment, Rose wouldn't let the Washington representative complete an answer, interrupting her twice in the course of just 20 seconds. On the second occasion, he raised the poll, which found that 45 percent point the finger at congressional Republicans for the impending across-the-board spending cuts:

CHARLIE ROSE: And what's the smarter, better way [of cutting the federal budget] other than raising revenue?

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, (R), WASHINGTON: Well, the President got revenue increases on January 1 – over 600 billion [dollars]. The Republicans have put forward two bills. We've passed legislation twice to show a smarter way to go about – yes-

ROSE: Congresswoman, let me just – let me ask one specific question: do you believe that the President, when he points out the impact of the sequester, is either using scare tactics or misleading the American public?

RODGERS: Well, we won't know that answer until March 1. But this was the President's idea of these across-the-board cuts-

ROSE: But you know what the President's saying, and you – you're aware of what he's saying, because he's going across the country to say it, and it seems to be working, as Norah pointed out, because the President – it looks like the American people, in polls, support the idea that if the sequester happens, the Republicans will be blamed.

RODGERS: Well, America also knows that we have a spending problem, that Washington, D.C. has a spending problem. Every year, we're spending more than we bring in, and it never seems to be the right time to cut the spending. President Obama made a promise – as a part of this big compromise to raise the debt ceiling, he made a promise that we were going to cut spending, and it seems like it's never – and we never get to the place of cutting the spending.

Earlier in the segment, O'Donnell raised the poll after Rep. Rodgers attacked President Obama's handling of the sequester issue: "Congresswoman, you say the President's got to stop campaigning and start negotiating. But if you look at the latest polls, it appears it's working. The public is going to blame your party – Republicans."

Just over two weeks earlier, Rose conducted a largely softball interview of Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. The only tough question that the CBS anchor asked his quest was when he targeted her from the left on the issue of the President's second-term Cabinet appointments: "We have seen resignations including, for example, the secretary of energy. The question still is, when will we see those major women appointed to top-level Cabinet positions, whether it's Justice or something else?"

Earlier in 2013, the CBS anchor, along with O'Donnell, also gave pro-gun control New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg the kid glove treatment, not even an hour after conducting a confrontational interview of NRA President David Keene.

The full transcript of the Rep. Rodgers interview from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Washington State Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, and she joins us this morning. Good morning.

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, (R), WASHINGTON: Good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Countdown To Cuts: House GOP View On Chances For A Deal"]

O'DONNELL: So, given the lack of negotiations, I have to ask this question: do Republicans – would they rather have the sequester than any deal that raises taxes?

RODGERS: We – we're very concerned about the impact of the sequester. This was President Obama's idea back when we were negotiating raising the debt ceiling – these across-the-board cuts that disproportionately impact the military. The Republicans, almost 300 days ago, put forward our plan to replace these cuts with smarter reforms, smarter cuts. There's a better way to do it, and what we need is for the President to get off the campaign trail, quit talking about raising taxes, and actually deliver on his promise to cut spending. We're talking $85 billion.

[CBS News Graphic: "Sequester Would Have Major Effect On...: Economy, 60%; Military, 55%; Personal finances, 30%; Source: Pew Research Center/The Washington Post Poll: Margin of Error: +/- 3.7% Pts."]

O'DONNELL: Congresswoman, you say the President's got to stop campaigning and start negotiating. But if you look at the latest polls, it appears it's working. The public is going to blame your party – Republicans.

RODGERS: Well, these cuts were the President's idea, and we are very concerned about the impact that they're going to have. We're hopeful that, as we move forward, that the President will come back to Washington, D.C., sit down with the Senate Democrats, urge them to come up with a plan to show that there is a better way to implement these cuts – 85 billion out of a $4.2 trillion budget. It can be done, but there's a smarter, better way to do it.

[CBS News Graphic: "Who's To Blame For Sequester? Republicans in Congress, 45%; President Obama, 32%; Both, 13%; Source: Pew Research Center/The Washington Post Poll: Margin of Error: +/- 3.7% Pts."]

CHARLIE ROSE: And what's the smarter, better way other than raising revenue?

RODGERS: Well, the President got revenue increases on January 1 – over 600 billion [dollars]. The Republicans have put forward two bills. We've passed legislation twice to show a smarter way to go about – yes-

ROSE: Congresswoman, let me just – let me ask one specific question: do you believe that the President, when he points out the impact of the sequester, is either using scare tactics or misleading the American public?

RODGERS: Well, we won't know that answer until March 1. But this was the President's idea of these across-the-board cuts-

ROSE: But you know what the President's saying, and you – you're aware of what he's saying, because he's going across the country to say it, and it seems to be working, as Norah pointed out, because the President – it looks like the American people, in polls, support the idea that if the sequester happens, the Republicans will be blamed.

RODGERS: Well, America also knows that we have a spending problem, that Washington, D.C. has a spending problem. Every year, we're spending more than we bring in, and it never seems to be the right time to cut the spending. President Obama made a promise – as a part of this big compromise to raise the debt ceiling, he made a promise that we were going to cut spending, and it seems like it's never – and we never get to the place of cutting the spending.

[CBS News Graphic: "To Reduce Budget Deficit: Cut spending & raise taxes, 76%; Only cut spending, 19%; Source: Pew Research Center Poll, Feb. 13-18; Margin of Error: +/- 3.7% Pts."]

ROSE: But some people point out that it looks like the Republicans have changed their position – that in the beginning, they talked about how bad the sequester would be; but now, they're saying, okay, if we don't get revenue, it's okay to have the sequester. That's a better and new policy.

RODGERS: No. We are – we're very concerned about the sequester. There's – there's a better way to find the spending cuts, the reforms. Just – we've spent $2.2 billion on a free cell phone program, just in 2013. President Obama has spent over $50 million promoting ObamaCare, hiring a public relations firm to promote ObamaCare. There is a smarter way to find the savings, reduce spending in the federal government, than the President's sequester – these across-the-board cuts. And what we need – we've known for nearly two years this day was coming – we need the President – we need the Senate Democrats, to sit down and put together that plan to move forward. The Republicans have put forward our plan twice.

O'DONNELL: All right. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, good to see you. Thank you.

RODGERS: Thank you.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/cbs-bombards-nras-keene-over-bounds-ad-bei...
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/nbc-hounds-jarrett-over-lack-actual-action...
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/nbc-hounds-jarrett-over-lack-actual-action...
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/nbc-hounds-jarrett-over-lack-actual-action...
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/nbc-hounds-jarrett-over-lack-actual-action...
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/nbc-hounds-jarrett-over-lack-actual-action...
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here. - See more at: http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/nbc-hounds-jarrett-over-lack-actual-action...

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