CBS Notices Controversy Swirling Around Obama Presidential Library, NBC and ABC Skip

Wednesday's CBS This Morning featured a full report on an outrageous attempt by Illinois Democrats to shove through $100 million in taxpayer funds for Barack Obama's future presidential library despite the state being $7 billion in debt. Meanwhile, NBC and ABC ignored the brewing controversy.

This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell noted the proposed massive spending was "a controversial move for a state that's pretty deep in debt." Correspondent Nancy Cordes explained: "That's right, $7 billion in debt. But Democrats in Illinois say allocating this money will help to convince the Obama Foundation to locate the Obama Library in Chicago, while many Republicans argue the President's hometown is the front-runner anyway and that this is an expense their state can't afford." [Listen to the audio]

In the report that followed, a soundbite was included of Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel pushing the idea: "We're going to remind him [Obama] oh so subtly this is where his wife and family are from, this is where his kids were raised, this is where he started his career. He should come home with his library and foundation."

Cordes highlighted Democrats in the statehouse trying to cut Republicans out of the decision: "So last week, an Illinois House committee voted to commit $100 million to help fund the library's construction. There was just one problem, Democrats held the vote without informing Republicans."

Republican state representative Ed Sullivan told Cordes: "There's no doubt that they should not have done what they did....People have to look at the context of what is taking place in Illinois financially, we are $7 billion in debt. We have $100 billion in pension liabilities. This is a want, and we need to focus on needs."

Cordes mentioned the high price tags for the libraries of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, but pointed out that "both of those libraries were paid for entirely with private funds."

Wrapping up the segment, Cordes touted estimates that Obama's library would cost "about half a billion dollars."

Here is a full transcript of the April 30 report:

7:36 AM ET

NORAH O'DONNELL: Now to this story. Illinois lawmakers vote today on whether to pledge $100 million in construction money to land President Obama's future library. Nancy Cordes is in Washington with a controversial move for a state that's pretty deep in debt. Nancy, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama Library Battle; Illinois Lawmakers Clash Over $100 Million Pledge]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. That's right, $7 billion in debt. But Democrats in Illinois say allocating this money will help to convince the Obama Foundation to locate the Obama Library in Chicago, while many Republicans argue the President's hometown is the front-runner anyway and that this is an expense their state can't afford.

President Obama may have represented Illinois in the Senate and he may consider Chicago his hometown.

BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Chicago!

CORDES: But some Illinois lawmakers still worry that the Obama Foundation, which is led by a Chicago friend of the President's, might choose another state for the Obama Library. Perhaps Hawaii, where he grew up, or New York, where he went to college. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the President's former chief of staff, says the best way to secure the library is to make a big down payment.

RAHM EMANUEL: We're going to remind him oh so subtly this is where his wife and family are from, this is where his kids were raised, this is where he started his career. He should come home with his library and foundation.

CORDES: So last week, an Illinois House committee voted to commit $100 million to help fund the library's construction. There was just one problem, Democrats held the vote without informing Republicans.

ED SULLIVAN [STATE REP. R-IL]: There's no doubt that they should not have done what they did.  

State representative Ed Sullivan is the top Republican on the committee. He and his GOP colleagues called for a re-vote. When it happens today, he will vote no.

SULLIVAN: People have to look at the context of what is taking place in Illinois financially, we are $7 billion in debt. We have $100 billion in pension liabilities. This is a want, and we need to focus on needs.

CORDES: Presidential libraries don't come cheap. The Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas cost $165 million. President George W. Bush's library in Dallas, Texas cost about $250 million. But both of those libraries were paid for entirely with private funds. Mayor Emanuel says he sees the state funding as an investment.

EMANUEL: That money will come back and create a huge amount of tourism, visitors, and economic development, and you will make that money and more back as a city.

CORDES: Obama Foundation leaders say they want to announce the location of the presidential library sometime next year. They'll make a recommendation to the President first, who will make the final decision.

And, Gayle, we're talking about $100 million today, but it's estimated that the total cost to build this library will be about half a billion dollars.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Wow.

GAYLE KING: Wow. Thank you, Nancy Cordes. Three very strong choices. It will be interesting to see where it goes. I like the line where Rahm Emanuel says, "We're gonna remind them oh so subtly." You never think subtly – subtlety and Rahm Emanuel...

CHARLIE ROSE: And subtlety's not his strong suit.

KING: ...in the same sentence. That's right.

O'DONNELL: Yes.

KING: It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. Nancy, we thank you again. What were you going to say?
 
O'DONNELL: I was just going to say, a very keen observation.

KING: We all saw that one.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.