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CBS Channels WashPost on GOP Forcing 'Ideological Purity'; Lets Noonan Rip 'Freak Show' in Party

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose yet again ripped a line from a liberal print media outlet that portrayed the GOP as a radical faction. Rose quoted a front-page article about Mitt Romney from that morning's Washington Post to Republican media favorite Peggy Noonan: "The Republican Party will have selected an unlikely standard bearer for 2012...a man of moderate temperament in a party fueled by hot rhetoric...a flip-flopper in a party that demands ideological purity."

Noonan herself endorsed this left-leaning spin: "That's very well put." The columnist also denounced the "freak show atmosphere to the Republican primaries in the past six months or so." [audio available here]

Rose led the segment with the controversy over Romney upcoming fundraiser with former Republican candidate/birther Donald Trump and highlighted how George Will (who is ideological akin to Noonan) "over the weekend, said, why is he [Romney] doing this?"


Noonan's used her "freak show" label not once, but twice in her reply:

NOONAN: He [Will] had colorful words- (laughs)

ROSE: Yes, he did- (laughs)

NOONAN: 'Professional ignoramus' or something like that. My view is that the Romney campaign made a mistake. Here is the mistake: there was a certain freak show atmosphere to the Republican primaries in the past six months or so. Now, that's kind of over. The show is over. Mr. Romney wins the nomination tonight....This is a good time for him to differentiate himself from the stranger aspects of the Republican race.

ROSE: How does he do that?

NOONAN: Well, one way you don't do it, I think, is do a fundraiser with Donald Trump, who was part of the freak show aspects....

Moments later, the CBS anchor quoted from Post writer Philip Rucker's above-the-fold article. After making her "well put" answer, Noonan continued that Romney's "positions, as he has espoused them in '08 and in '12, were very conservative, very in line with party orthodoxy of the right of the party. And yet, in a funny way, he reads and comes across as a classic Republican moderate."

About two weeks earlier, Rose trumpeted a headline from the New York Times that negatively highlighted a GOP-affiliated organization's planned ad campaign against President Obama: "The New York Times has a story today that the GOP super PAC is weighing in on a hard-line attack on the President." The veteran journalist also cited an anti-Romney article from the Times just days after he started his gig at the CBS morning newscast in January 2012.

The full transcript of the Peggy Noonan segment from Tuesday's CBS This Morning, which aired seven minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:

CHARLIE ROSE: With us now, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. She's written eight books about American politics, and is a former speechwriter for President Reagan. Welcome.

PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL COLUMNIST: Hello. Good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Romney Set To Clinch Nomination Today"]

ROSE: How are you?

NOONAN: Good.

ROSE: This business about Donald Trump [meeting with Mitt Romney]-

NOONAN: Yeah.

ROSE: George Will, over the weekend, said, why is he [Romney] doing this?

NOONAN: He had colorful words- (laughs)

ROSE: Yes, he did- (laughs)

NOONAN: 'Professional ignoramus' or something like that. My view is that the Romney campaign made a mistake. Here is the mistake: there was a certain freak show atmosphere to the Republican primaries in the past six months or so. Now, that's kind of over. The show is over. Mr. Romney wins the nomination tonight. Texans will put him over the top. This is a good time for him to differentiate himself from the stranger aspects of the Republican race.

ROSE: How does he do that?

NOONAN: Well, one way you don't do it, I think, is do a fundraiser with Donald Trump, who was part of the freak show aspects. So it's a little surprising that he did this. I suspect Mitt Romney was thinking in the old LBJ way. LBJ once said, cleaning up his language, it's much better to have people on the inside of the tent aiming out (Rose laughs), than the outside of the tent aiming in.

ROSE: He was speaking of J. Edgar Hoover when he said that.

NOONAN: Well, was he ever!

ROSE: But Ronald Reagan said, it's not what - my opponent - people who support me- it's not about what they believe in. It's about what I believe.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Fmr. Reagan Speechwriter's Take On Campaign"]

NOONAN: Yeah. Reagan got into an interesting point in 1980 when the John Birch Society, a rather fringe group, came out in robust support of him. Now, that wasn't good for Reagan, and he was asked - reporters said right away, haha, these crazy people are supporting you. And he said, you know, they may be supporting me, but that doesn't mean I'm supporting them, and that was the end of it.

ROSE: This from The Washington Post today: looking at the - getting the nomination after Texas, the Republican Party will have selected an unlikely standard bearer for 2012: a New Englander in a party rooted in the South; a man of moderate temperament in a party fueled by hot rhetoric; a Mormon in a party guided by evangelical Christians; a flip-flopper in a party that demands ideological purity.

NOONAN: Ain't that interesting? (Erica Hill laughs)

ROSE: That's true-

NOONAN: That's very well put.

ROSE: So, how did this happen, and what does he do now?

NOONAN: It's - there's a funny thing about Mitt Romney. His positions, as he has espoused them in '08 and in '12, were very conservative, very in line with party orthodoxy of the right of the party. And yet, in a funny way, he reads and comes across as a classic Republican moderate. So that's just an interesting difference between the things people stand on, and the way they represent - the way they present themselves.

ROSE: And that's the reason the right did not trust him during the primaries.

NOONAN Well, you know what? At the end of the day, he was the guy who was always starting out with about 30 percent and always building from that. I interviewed him the other day, and he said, you know, I think I've proved myself. I said, why do you think you're doing well right now? He said, I proved myself. I fought in all those big states, and sometimes, we were ten points behind. But we toughed it out, and we had good campaigns and I kept emerging as the victor. And that, indeed, is what happened.

Also, the Republican Party, guys - there's such a strong right that has such strong views, and yet, if you look at the history of their nominees in the past few decades, they've tended to choose the guy they thought was more moderate.

[CBS News Graphic: "The Gallup Poll: Presidential Race: Obama, 47%; Romney, 45%; Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

ERICA HILL: Which, in many ways, is the guy they thought could win. I want to touch on a point that Bill [Plante] brought up about veterans showing greater support for Mitt Romney.

NOONAN: Yeah.

HILL: How important will veterans be in this race?

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Romney And the Veteran Vote"]

NOONAN: Well, I forget the proportion of the electorate that they are. I think it's about 18 percent. So that's significant. What's significant also, is that Romney's support among veterans, apparently, is so lopsided. He doesn't carry them by five points or even ten points. He's like up there around 20 points. Do I think it's significant? Yes. Do I consider it shocking? No. Veterans tend, in their impulses and their very way of looking at life, to be somewhat conservative, and I don't think they've ever fully understood President Obama. So I'm not shocked.

[CBS News Graphic: "The Gallup Poll: Presidential Race Among Veteran Voters: Romney 58%; OBama, 34%; Margin of Error: +/- 2% Pts."]

ROSE: Peggy, thank you.

NOONAN: Thank you.

ROSE: Good to see you.

NOONAN: Thanks. 

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