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CBS Hounds Rahm Emanuel from the Left on Gun Control; Completely Avoids Chicago's High Murder Rate

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose ganged up on former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel from the left. O'Donnell cited sources blaming Emanuel for the President's failure to push for stricter gun control during his first term. But neither anchor brought up the obvious subject: Chicago's high murder rate, and what that says about the big Democratic city's rigid anti-gun stance.

O'Donnell hounded the Chicago mayor for resisting Attorney General Eric Holder's liberal anti-gun agenda and over the Obama administration's apparent hesitance towards the controversial issue [audio available here; video below]:

O'DONNELL: You were President Obama's chief of staff, and in 2009, according to Danny Klaidman's book, 'Kill or Capture', you were furious with Attorney General Holder, who held a press conference in February of 2009, saying that the Obama administration was going to reinstitute...the assault weapons ban, and that you sent word to Justice that Holder needed to shut up on guns....Were you worried about the political backlash of taking on and pushing for the assault weapons ban? Why didn't Obama do that?

The former NBC correspondent even waved a copy of the pro-gun control Brady Campaign low rating of the President in front of her guest's face. She continued by spotlighting another regulation that the Holder Justice Department pursued within the past year:

O'DONNELL: The Brady campaign, I mean, in the first year, gave Obama an 'F' - an 'F'!...And there was a report in The New York Times on Sunday that after the Aurora shooting...I know you weren't at the White House then - but that the Justice Department went to the White House with ways to expand the background check system, in order to reduce the risk of guns falling in the hands of mentally ill people, and there was a decision made not to go that far. What I guess I'm trying to ask is not assign blame, but politically, how hard is it to take on the NRA?

Rose later insisted that the President needed to admit fault for not doing enough to pass regulations on firearms:

ROSE: I don't understand why people, who did not have the political will to go forward, don't simply acknowledge it, and say, I've come around, as some have....the President did not do all that he could, and you know it, and...I suspect he knows it. But the more important thing is, is it now time to stand up to the NRA..?

CBS This Morning has pursued gun control even before the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. On December 4, the program blamed the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide on a supposed "gun culture" in the NFL and in the U.S. in general. On November 30, the newscast promoted liberal comedian Stephen Colbert's stereotyping of firearm owners as he poked fun of a proposed gun dorm at the University of Colorado.

The full transcript of the Rahm Emanuel interview on Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: With us now, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He is President Obama's former White House chief of staff. Good morning.

RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO MAYOR: Good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Gun Control Debate: Chicago Mayor On Call For 'Meaningful Action'"]

ROSE: This change of heart - how sustainable is it? Will it lead to meaningful action, and is meaningful action a ban on assault weapons and more?

EMANUEL: Yes. Yes to all of those, but to break it down, there is no doubt I think right now, all of us, all of us are citizens and residents of Newtown, Connecticut. That's number one. I think there's a genuine outpouring in the country for action that this type of event is – you know, the tectonic shift in attitudes, that's number one. You have to have re-authorization of the assault weapon ban. When I worked for President Clinton, we fought to get it to pass the House by one vote. I remember there was an attempt to pull it out of the crime bill, but we kept it in and finally got it done. It was bipartisan when it passed.

Second, you have to deal with the clips; and third, you also have to deal with the straw purchases, which are how guns flood into urban and other areas, because the Brady Bill that deals with at stores and at regular kind of merchants. Almost 40 percent to 50 percent of the guns are guns through store purchases and you must cover and deal with that kind of – where guns seep into the rest of society, so in that comprehensive action. Everything that deals in my view, Charlie and Norah, with the type of gun and criminal access, is where you should go in a sense of legislation - that area.

O'DONNELL: I want to ask you, though, about what led us to this point, because, as you pointed out, the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. You were President Obama's chief of staff, and in 2009, according to Danny Klaidman's book, 'Kill or Capture', you were furious with Attorney General Holder, who held a press conference in February of 2009, saying that the Obama administration was going to reinstitute – push the assault weapons ban-

EMANUEL: Yeah-

O'DONNELL: And that you went – and said – the chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to shut up on guns.

EMANUEL: (unintelligible) Let me say this, Norah: President Obama always stood for getting this done – number one. Number two, I passed the Brady Bill, the assault weapon ban. It is very, very important that we do that. The fact is, in 2009, the President and the entire government was very clear to say this, as the attorney general knows, in getting all the President's legislation done and working with Congress to do that.

O'DONNELL: But I want you to explain that, because, were you worried about the political backlash of taking on and pushing for the assault weapons ban? Why didn't – why didn't Obama do that?

EMANUEL: No, because, first of all, the President's record is very, very clear on this. It's clear when he was a state senator. It was clear when he was also a U.S. senator. It was clear also as a President, and he was dealing as you well know with a myriad of issues. And he was pushing very hard and making sure, also, that we had the funding to do everything we needed to do in the Justice Department.

O'DONNELL: But the Brady campaign, I mean, in the first year, gave Obama an 'F' - an 'F'!

EMANUEL: Yeah, well, you know – yeah, but-

O'DONNELL: You know? And there was a report in The New York Times on Sunday that after the Aurora shooting, that the Justice Department – I know you weren't at the White House then - but that the Justice Department went to the White House with ways to expand the background check system, in order to reduce the risk of guns falling in the hands of mentally ill people, and there was a decision made not to go that far. What I guess I'm trying to ask is not assign blame, but politically, how hard is it to take on the NRA?

EMANUEL: First of all, having fought to pass the Brady Bill and the assault weapon ban, the last time we really had gun control, it is very hard. That's why what you have to focus on is criminal access and the type of guns and make it a law enforcement issue. When I worked for President Clinton, we had all the police chiefs in D.C., and that's why I also think now the proximity to the vote is very, very important. I think it's essential to have a vote of conscience - put it up, people notice what happened here – number one. Number two is – it has to be about people – the type of criminal access to the type of gun, which is why you showed earlier the type of gun, because I think when people see that, it's clear that gun is not for the streets. It's not for sports. It's really a gun of war.

ROSE: I don't understand why people, who did not have the political will to go forward, don't simply acknowledge it, and say, I've come around, as some have, including the President-

EMANUEL: Right, right – no-

ROSE: No, the President did not do all that he could, and you know it, and I think he – I suspect he knows it. But the more important thing is, is it now time to stand up to the NRA and to say to them - as Mayor Bloomberg has said - you are full of – we have the courage to take them on now?

EMANUEL: First of all-

ROSE: 'Full of myth' is what he said-

EMANUEL: I understand that. There is no doubt you have an event that's changed everybody's attitude. You just saw that there-

O'DONNELL: You think conservative Democrats – too?

EMANUEL: I think you're going to have a lot of people say, okay, what should we do? Because you can't take an event like this and say the status quo stays in place – that's number one. Number two, what then should be done? That's why I believe a focus on criminal access and the type of weapons is where you have the best prospect in making it a public safety criminal activity. That's where you're going to get progress the last time it was passed in '93 - the Brady Bill –  '94, the assault weapon ban. You haven't had anything since. And the closer you stay to that area, which is the best process about making this about law enforcement.

ROSE: And there are two other things: one is mental health, and the other is a climate of violence, and those two things are important as the gun debate is.

EMANUEL: Right. There's no doubt, but – there is a powerful force – there are other elements of society, which is why you have to stay in the zone about law enforcement and the type of weapons and the type of people's access to the weapons. And that is where you're going to get the political support and the public support to build a broad coalition. This is not a coalition that stays with the persuaded. It has to be built with the unpersuaded, which is what you're also showing on the TV, as people start to change their attitude about what they will accept.

O'DONNELL: All right. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, good to see you – thanks for being here.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

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