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CBS Overwhelmingly Sides With Pro-Gun Control Voices 11-2 After Senate Votes

Chip Reid, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 17 April 2013 Edition of CBS Evening News | MRC.orgCBS lined up gun control supporters on Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning. Chip Reid and Major Garrett played 11 soundbites from President Obama and other Democrats, as well as family members of the Newtown massacre victims. The only gun rights supporter that the two correspondents could find was Chuck Grassley. Reid played two clips from the Republican senator during his reports.

Reid led his second report by hyping how "forces opposed to gun control proved that they are still in control here in Washington". Garrett sounded like a stenographer for the White House as he reported on the "somber and frustrated" President's press conference after the Senate votes.

Anchor Scott Pelley led the Wednesday evening newscast with the "major breaking story out of Washington" – that the U.S. Senate had "scuttled" gun control legislation. Pelley wasted little time before playing the first clip from Obama decrying the rejection of the gun control legislation as "a pretty shameful day for Washington", and added that "opponents of gun control are elated by the decision."

Reid then outlined that the Senate votes were a "major defeat" for gun control supporters, and echoed Pelley's earlier language about opponents: "It was a resounding victory for the powerful National Rifle Association and its supporters." The CBS journalist continued with a clip from Senator Grassley, but followed it with two sound bites from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who sponsored one of the gun control proposals. He ended his first report by reading a statement from another liberal politician: "Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said today, 'This is the saddest day of his years in public life.'"

Pelley then turned to Garrett, whose report consisted largely of clips from the President's news conference:

Major Garrett, CBS News Correspondent; Screen Cap From 17 April 2013 Edition of CBS Evening News | NewsBusters.orgMAJOR GARRETT: Scott, somber and frustrated, President Obama said the gun control debate will not end because the Senate could not muster 60 votes for expanded background checks. He stood, as you said, with some of the Sandy Hook families. Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel in that mass shooting, spoke first and said Washington has not heard the last of this issue.

MARK BARDEN, SANDY HOOK VICTIM'S FATHER (from White House press conference): We'll return home now – disappointed, but not defeated. We return home with a determination that change will happen – maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon. We've always known this would be a long road, and we don't have the luxury of turning back. We will keep moving forward and build public support for common-sense solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, and gun safety.

GARRETT (voice-over): With his wife and two surviving children beside him, Barden spoke of his son Daniel, and recited what is known in Newtown as the Sandy Hook promise.

BARDEN: Our hearts are broken. Our spirit is not.

GARRETT: President Obama said the legislation's failure was due to fear-mongering and misinformation.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of Big Brother gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry – plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn't matter.

GARRETT: The President questioned what the gun lobby will gain from keeping things as they are now.

OBAMA: I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. My question is, a victory for who – a victory for what? All that happens today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn't make our kids safer.

GARRETT (on-camera): The President placed phone calls to senators on this issue, Scott, yesterday and this morning – even amid briefings on the latest on the Boston Marathon bombings. The White House says the President will not let this issue die, and will keep faith with those families who want him and this White House to keep pressing.

The former Fox News correspondent didn't play one clip from a gun rights supporter. Instead, Pelley read excerpts from a statement from the NRA after Garrett's report:

SCOTT PELLEY: Late today, the National Rifle Association called this gun control legislation 'misguided', and said the provision for tougher background checks would – quote, 'have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens requiring lifelong friends, neighbors, and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution'.

The following morning, Reid filed a second report on the Senate votes and on the President's news conference.  He played an abridged version of his Grassley soundbite, but also included four clips from gun control supporters as well.

The CBS correspondent again pointed out the extent the chief executive's loss on the gun control issue: "The defeat was a big blow to the President and his Senate allies, including Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal." Earlier, anchor Norah O'Donnell introduced the correspondent's report by noting the "huge setback in Congress yesterday for President Obama."

The three CBS reports are only slightly less biased than ABC's Wednesday evening and Thursday morning coverage of the gun control developments. Correspondent Jonathan Karl didn't include any soundbites from gun rights supporters during his reports on World News and Good Morning America.

The full transcripts of Chip Reid's reports from Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning:

04/17/2013
06:31 pm EDT
CBS Evening News

SCOTT PELLEY: There is a major breaking story out of Washington tonight. The gun control legislation, written after the Newtown massacre, has been scuttled in its entirety by the United States Senate. Moments ago, standing with parents from Newtown, Connecticut, the President railed against the Senate.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from press conference): So, all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people, we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don't give up on it.

PELLEY: Of course, opponents of gun control are elated by the decision, and we will start our coverage with Chip Reid at the Capitol.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN (from proceedings on the Senate floor): On this vote, the yays are 54, the nays are 46.

CHIP REID (voice-over): For supporters of gun control, including Vice President Joe Biden, it was a major defeat. They fell short of the 60 votes needed to adopt an amendment requiring background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows and over the internet. Under current law, background checks are required only for sales handled by licensed gun dealers. Sixty votes were required, because that is what it would take to overcome a Republican-led filibuster. All but four Republicans opposed the background check amendment. It was a resounding victory for the powerful National Rifle Association and its supporters, including Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

[CBS News Graphic: "Supported Background Check Amendment: Sen. Susan Collins; Sen. Mark Kirk; Sen. John McCain; Sen. Patrick Toomey"]

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R), IOWA (from speech on Senate floor): Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Criminals do not submit to background checks now. They will not submit to expanded background checks.

REID: Senators were lobbied this week by the President and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Many Newtown parents, who lost children in the elementary school massacre, came to the Capitol. Last week, they met with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He's a gun rights supporter, but also the co-sponsor of the background check amendment. After meeting with the parents, he said this.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I'm a parent. I'm a grandparent. I can't imagine. I just can't imagine.

REID: Today, Manchin made a final appeal, after it was clear he and the Newtown families were going to lose.

MANCHIN (from speech on Senate floor): If you want to remember those 20 babies – beautiful children – and the six brave teachers, and you want to honor the most courageous family members I have ever met in my life, please consider – you should vote for this bill.

REID (on-camera): The Senate also voted down amendments to ban many military-style assault weapons and magazines that hold more than ten rounds. And, Scott, that leaves the gun control bill in shambles. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said today, 'This is the saddest day of his years in public life.'

PELLEY: Chip, thank you very much.


04/18/2013
07:35 am EDT
CBS This Morning

NORAH O'DONNELL: There was a huge setback in Congress yesterday for President Obama. On Wednesday, the Senate blocked the most far-reaching gun control legislation in two decades. The President was fuming at a news conference last night in the Rose Garden. He blasted the gun control lobby, saying they willfully lied to the American people.

Chip Reid is in Washington this morning. Chip, good morning.

CHIP REID: Good morning, Norah and Charlie. You know, after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, gun control supporters in Congress thought tighter gun laws had a real chance of passing, especially expanded background checks. But on Wednesday, forces opposed to gun control proved that they are still in control here in Washington.                        

[CBS News Graphic: "Gun Control Defeat: Senate Blocks Obama's Push For Tighter Control"]

MARK BARDEN, SANDY HOOK VICTIM'S FATHER (from White House press conference): Our hearts are broken; our spirit is not.

REID (voice-over): Surrounded by families of victims of Newtown and other shootings, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, President Obama lashed out at senators who oppose gun control.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It came down to politics – the worry that – that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. And so, they caved to the pressure. So, all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN (from proceedings on Senate floor): The amendment is not agreed to.

REID: Wednesday, most Republican senators, along with four moderate Democrats, voted down an attempt to expand background checks to people who buy guns at gun shows and over the Internet.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R), IOWA (from speech on Senate floor): Criminals do not submit to background checks now. They will not submit to expanded background checks.

REID: In a statement, the powerful National Rifle Association called the legislation misguided.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 (off-camera, from proceeding on Senate floor): Shame on you!

BIDEN: There will be order in the Senate.

REID: The defeat was a big blow to the President and his Senate allies, including Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTAL, (D), CONNECTICUT (from press conference): Today was a heartbreaker – probably the saddest day of my years in public life.

REID: The Senate also voted down a ban on assault weapons and on gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. But gun victims' families, who watched the votes in the Senate and lobbied hard for the legislation, say they're not done yet. Carlee Soto's 27-year-old sister Victoria, a teacher, was killed in the Newtown massacre.

CARLEE SOTO, SANDY HOOK VICTIM'S SISTER: It might not be next week. It might not be the week after that. It might not be a few months from now, but we're not going away.

REID (on-camera): It's now widely expected that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid will set aside the gun bill, and move on to other Senate business. Democrats who support gun control say that given the power of the NRA, there's simply no chance of passing significant gun control legislation now, and that even moderate Democrats are in the NRA's corner. Norah and Charlie?

CHARLIE ROSE: We saw that, in terms of the way they voted – some of those voted who are facing election-

REID: That's right-

ROSE: But what does the administration – the President was very, very strongly affected by Newtown, and he put everything that he had behind this. Where does he go now; where does the administration go; or is it simply a case of Harry Reid saying, there's no chance, and so, we move on?

REID: Legislatively, I think Harry Reid will set it aside. At the White House, I think it now turns into a political issue, and on Capitol Hill, too. They know they can't get it through Congress now. Somebody said, sadly, that it's going to take more mass shootings in order for something like this to pass. But the White House is going to turn this into a big political issue, and just hammer the Republicans with it.

ROSE: A lot of people are angry because they're saying the interpretation of the bill was wrong.

REID: Right-

ROSE: And you see a lot of that anger out, that, in fact, it did not do what some of the people said it would do.

REID: That's right. Well, a lot of people said that what this would do is prohibit sales of guns between family members, and the President says that's absolutely not true – that it says right in the bill that that is not the case.

ROSE: Chip Reid, thank you.

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