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CBS Hypes 'Thousands of Angry Protesters' Against Right-to-Work Bill; Slants 3 to 1 in Favor of Unions

Tuesday's CBS This Morning played up the union-led protests against a proposed right-to-work law in Michigan. Elaine Quijano claimed "the protests here in Michigan...[will] likely only get bigger." Quijano added that "they're planning to return today in record numbers - protesters determined to defend one of the biggest union strongholds in the country."

The correspondent loaded her report with six soundbites from the anti-right-to-work protesters and their supporters, including President Obama. Quijano only played two from proponents of the Michigan bill, including "reluctant supporter" Governor Rick Snyder.

Anchor Charlie Rose introduced the Quijano segment by trumpeting how "some of the most dramatic moments in labor union history have happened in Michigan. Republican lawmakers there are ready to make history of their own this morning - passing a right-to-work law." Co-anchor Norah O'Donnell added her own hype about the protests: "Authorities are bracing for thousands of angry protesters planning to challenge the law, which could have an impact in other union-heavy states across the nation."

The CBS journalist led her report with her "likely only get bigger" claim about the union demonstrations. She did point out one sad development regarding the participants: "In fact, so many teachers apparently took personal leave today that two school districts in the Detroit metro area were forced to cancel classes." One wonders if these teachers placing their union membership over their students has something to do with how only seven percent of 8th grade students in the city are proficient in reading, as the MRC's CNS News reported on Tuesday.

Quijano then gave her "record numbers" line about the ongoing protests, and outlined that "Michigan's right-to-work legislation...would make it illegal to force workers to join unions or pay dues. Republican lawmakers pushed the measure through last week without any debate, sparking widespread outrage."

The correspondent later noted how "in a recent poll, 54 percent of Michigan voters said they generally support right-to-work laws." She then played her first clip from an unidentified supporter of the right-to-work bill. But she followed this with three consecutive soundbites from the protesters. She also failed to point out something that even Reuters reported on Tuesday: on Election Day, voters defeated a "ballot initiative backed by unions that would have enshrined the right to collective bargaining in the state constitution." If that liberal wire service can report that detail, why can't CBS?

Quijano's report is just the latest example of the Big Three networks slant towards the left-wing causes. The MRC's Julia Seymour documented in a February 2011 report how these broadcast outlets spun the unions' protests that year against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget reforms as "citizen uprisings," while omitting the issue of pension underfunding.

The full transcript of Elaine Quijano's report on Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Some of the most dramatic moments in labor union history have happened in Michigan. Republican lawmakers there are ready to make history of their own this morning - passing a right-to-work law.

NORAH O'DONNELL: And authorities are bracing for thousands of angry protesters planning to challenge the law, which could have an impact in other union-heavy states across the nation.

Elaine Quijano is at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan. Elaine, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Labor Pains: Protests Over Michigan Right-To-Work Law"]

ELAINE QUIJANO: Good morning to you, Norah and Charlie. Well, the protests here in Michigan first popped up last week, and they'll likely only get bigger. In fact, so many teachers apparently took personal leave today that two school districts in the Detroit metro area were forced to cancel classes.

QUIJANO (voice-over): (clip of protesters chanting, "Hey, hey; ho, ho. Right to work has got to go!") At Michigan's state capitol, they're planning to return today in record numbers - protesters determined to defend one of the biggest union strongholds in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER 1: I think that will be historical, if 10,000 people do show up.

QUIJANO: At issue: Michigan's right-to-work legislation, which would make it illegal to force workers to join unions or pay dues. Republican lawmakers pushed the measure through last week without any debate, sparking widespread outrage. (clip of protesters chanting, "Right to work has got to go!") Even President Obama weighed in at a Detroit truck factory on Monday.

OBAMA: These so-called right-to-work laws – they don't have to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics. (audience replies, "Yeah!") What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.

QUIJANO: Advocates insist the measure is about attracting jobs, and, in a recent poll, 54 percent of Michigan voters said they generally support right-to-work laws.

[CBS News Graphic: "Michigan Right To Work Poll: In Favor, 54%; Oppose, 40%; Source: EPIC-MRA, Margin of Error +/- 4%"]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1: It will create competition within the unions and give better customer service to the union brothers.

QUIJANO: But opponents call it a deceptive attempt to chip away at organized labor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER 1: It's not about, you know, more jobs. This legislation is trying to reduce the middle class even further.

QUIJANO: Twenty-three other states already have right-to-work laws, mostly in the South and West. Michigan is one of the most heavily-unionized states. Seventeen and a half percent of workers are members.
    
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER 2: What's disgusting? (crowd replies, "Union busting!")

QUIJANO: Similar battle have boiled over in Indiana and Wisconsin. (clip of unidentified female protester chanting, "Union busting's got to go!") Republican Governor Rick Snyder is a reluctant supporter of the legislation.

GOV. RICK SNYDER, (R), MICHIGAN: I'm not happy about being in the situation. But given it's here, I'm going to do what I believe is best for the citizens of Michigan - my customers.

QUIJANO (on-camera): The Republican-controlled legislature is expected to take final action on the bill as early as today, and Governor Snyder has pledged to sign the legislation. Charlie and Norah?

O'DONNELL: Elaine Quijano, thank you.

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