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CBS's Nancy Cordes Points the Finger at GOP Over Government Shutdown

For two straight days, Nancy Cordes strongly hinted on CBS This Morning that House Republicans were to blame for the ongoing government shutdown. On Tuesday, Cordes hounded GOP Congressman Robert Pittenger: "All the polls show that a majority of Americans don't want to see the government shut down over ObamaCare. How can you say the American people is on your side?"

The correspondent tossed a similar question the following morning at Pittenger's colleague, Rep. Phil Gingrey: "How long are you willing to keep the government partially closed over ObamaCare?" During both reports, she didn't bother to ask such questions of Democratic representatives or senators.

Cordes led her Tuesday report for the CBS morning newscast by noting that "Congress was here all night long. There was plenty of shouting, plenty of finger-pointing – but no deal-making." It didn't take long for the journalist to herself point a finger. She played the clip of her slanted question to Rep. Pittenger towards the end of the segment:

NANCY CORDES: All the polls show that a majority of Americans don't want to see the government shut down over ObamaCare. How can you say the American people is on your side?

REP. ROBERT PITTENGER, (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, they don't like ObamaCare, and I would say to you that the government shut down 17 times before.

The North Carolina congressman pointed out something that the correspondent failed to mention during both segments. According to CBS News' own poll from the end of September 2013, "opinions of the health care law overall continue to be negative...39 percent of Americans now approve of the health care law, but more - 51 percent - disapprove, similar to views in July." Back in July 2013, anchor Norah O'Donnell spotlighted that poll result, which found that "more Americans than ever want the health care law repealed", but did her best to explain it away.

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, the correspondent began by noting that "Republicans feel they can't back down now without serious concessions, and Democrats think they have the high ground and don't need to negotiate." She continued by outlining that "House Republicans tried to restore funding for three parts of the government Tuesday night – the District of Columbia, national parks, and veterans affairs....But Democrats voted down all three bills, calling it a P.R. stunt."

However, just as she did the previous day, Cordes targeted a Republican legislator exclusively:

CORDES (on-camera): How long are you willing to keep the government partially closed over ObamaCare?

REP. PHIL GINGREY, (R), GEORGIA: Well, you know, that's a decision, of course, that our leadership will have to make. But we are a unified team – I can tell you that.

The CBS journalist also hyped how "a small, but growing group of House Republicans is lashing out. California's Devin Nunes called his Tea Party colleagues 'lemmings going over a cliff together'." She then played a clip from Rep. Nunes, who likened his colleagues to toddlers: "You shouldn't just go and take your toys and throw a fit, and threaten government shutdown. And that's what this strategy is."

Two weeks earlier, on both CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning, Cordes played up how anonymous Republican senators attacked their peers in the House for their proposal to defund ObamaCare: "Senate Republicans are almost unanimously opposed to this plan. One called it a 'suicide note'. Another said it would harm the American people. They don't like the President's health care law either...They just don't think that funding should be held hostage because of it."

Overall, CBS, along with ABC and NBC, have overwhelmingly placed blame for the shutdown on Republicans/conservatives, even before it began. During the last two weeks of September, the Big Three's evening newscasts devoted 21 out of 39 stories on the issue "framed around the idea of Republicans triggering the crisis, compared to four that blamed both sides and absolutely none that put the onus on Democrats' failure to negotiate", as the MRC's Rich Noyes documented on Tuesday.

The full transcripts of Nancy Cordes' reports from Tuesday and Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

10/01/2013
07:02 am EDT
CBS This Morning

CHARLIE ROSE: For the first time in 17 years, much of the federal government is shut down. Congress failed to agree on new funding before a midnight deadline. That means about 800,000 federal workers will be off the job this morning. Veterans' disability claims will not be decided. The WIC nutrition program for needy women and children may have to shut down. All national parks are closed to new visitors. And many government websites are offline.

[CBS News Graphic: "Government Shutdown: Closed or Partially Closed: 800,000 facing furlough; Veterans' disability claims; WIC Program; National Parks; Federal websites; Open or Partially Open: Postal Service; Social Security; Medicare; Medicaid"]

NORAH O'DONNELL: However, essential government services will be provided. Post offices will stay open, and mail will be delivered. Social Security checks will go out as usual – so will Medicare and Medicaid payments.

We begin of the government shutdown with Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning to you, Norah and Charlie. Well, I wish that I could say that we are closer to a resolution today than we were yesterday, but I can't. Congress was here all night long. There was plenty of shouting, plenty of finger-pointing – but no deal-making.

[CBS News Graphic: "Federal Shutdown: First Partial Closure Of U.S. Gov't In 17 Years"]

REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER, (D), NEW YORK (from speech on House of Representatives floor): Mr. Speaker, it is now midnight, and the great government of the united states is now closed.

CORDES: When the clock struck 12:00, the House and Senate were still locked in debate, even as a memo went out from the White House to all federal agencies, instructing them to 'execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations'.

REP. JOHN LARSON, (D), CONNECTICUT (from speech on House of Representatives floor): Do you stand with your country; do you stand for your country; or do you want to take it down this evening?

CORDES: Just before 1 am, the House passed its fourth attempt to fund the government, while weakening the President's health care law.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (from proceedings on House of Representatives floor): The resolution is adopted.

CORDES: This bill would delay the onset of the individual mandate requiring all Americans to get insurance. And it calls for a negotiation over ObamaCare between lawmakers from the House and Senate.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (from press conference): And I would hope that the Senate would accept our offer to go to conference and discuss this, so we can resolve this for the American people.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER (from speech on Senate floor): They've lost their minds.

CORDES: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he won't agree to any talks unless House Republicans fund the government first – no strings attached.

REID: We will re-litigate the health care debate or negotiate at the point of a gun.

CORDES: The strategy is being driven by Tea Party House Republicans.

CORDES (on-camera): All the polls show that a majority of Americans don't want to see the government shut down over ObamaCare. How can you say the American people is on your side?

REP. ROBERT PITTENGER, (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, they don't like ObamaCare, and I would say to you that the government shut down 17 times before.

CORDES: The President reached out to the four top congressional leaders late Monday, but there were no breakthroughs.

BOEHNER (from speech on House of Representatives floor): I talked to the President earlier tonight. I'm not going to negotiate. I'm not negotiate. We're not going to do this. Well, I would say to the President, this is not about me, and it's not about Republicans here in Congress. It's about fairness for the American people.

CORDES: Mr. Obama had a different take.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from press conference): You don't get – extract a ransom for doing your job – for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway.

CORDES (live): Members of Congress are among the few federal workers that will continue to get paid during a shutdown. Some of them have said they will donate that pay to charity. But what is truly amazing about this situation right now, Charlie and Norah, is that the bills they are fighting over don't fund the government for a year like they're supposed to. They fund the government for six to ten weeks, so even if they find a way out of this impasse, we could be back in it before you know it.

O'DONNELL: Incredible – Nancy Cordes, thank you.


10/02/2013
07:03 am EDT
CBS This Morning

CHARLIE ROSE: We begin in Washington, where Congress returns to Capitol Hill today for day two of a partial government shutdown. Neither side is ready to compromise.

NORAH O'DONNELL: And concern is growing that the stalemate could last for weeks. It threatens to upset another crucial debate over increasing nation's debt limit.

Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Norah and Charlie, we cannot find a single member or aide up here who can give us a plausible scenario for how this ends quickly. Republicans feel they can't back down now without serious concessions, and Democrats think they have the high ground and don't need to negotiate.

[CBS News Graphic: "Federal Shutdown: GOP Funding Bills Fail As Dems Stand Firm"]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (from proceedings on House of Representatives floor): The joint resolution is not agreed to.

CORDES (voice-over): House Republicans tried to restore funding for three parts of the government Tuesday night – the District of Columbia, national parks, and veterans affairs.

REP. MATT SALMON, (R), ARIZONA (from speech on House of Representatives floor): You vote no – that's where rubber meets the road. You'll be responsible for denying them these benefits.

CORDES: But Democrats voted down all three bills, calling it a P.R. stunt.

REP. DAVID SCOTT, (D), GEORGIA (from speech on House of Representatives floor): Don't be fooled by what the Republicans are doing tonight. Just 19 hrs ago, they closed down this government.

CORDES: The outlines of this standoff have not changed. House Republicans say they'll only fund the government fully if they get a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which requires all Americans to buy insurance. On Tuesday, they begged Senate Democrats to bargain – eight of them even lining up on one side of a long negotiating table.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, (R), VIRGINIA (from press conference): We need the Senate Democrats to come join us.

CORDES: But Democrats, backed by the President, refused.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from press conference): They shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health care insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.

Phil Gingrey is a Georgia Republican.

CORDES (on-camera): How long are you willing to keep the government partially closed over ObamaCare?

REP. PHIL GINGREY, (R), GEORGIA: Well, you know, that's a decision, of course, that our leadership will have to make. But we are a unified team – I can tell you that.

CORDES: Well, almost – a small, but growing group of House Republicans is lashing out. California's Devin Nunes called his Tea Party colleagues 'lemmings going over a cliff together'.

REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I actually think that that – lemmings is nice, because there's probably more choice words I would have for them. You shouldn't just go and take your toys and throw a fit, and threaten government shutdown. And that's what this strategy is.

CORDES (live): But right now, he is in the distinct minority. More Republicans feel that ObamaCare is actually worse for the country than a government shutdown. And so, Norah and Charlie, it only appears that the dynamics of this shutdown will change if there is a huge public backlash that forces leaders up here to finally get in a room together and work this out.

O'DONNELL: All right. Nancy, thank you.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.