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CBS’s Pelley Scolds Boehner as Impediment to Compromise with Obama, Frets ‘He Didn’t Seem Open to Change’

Previewing the State of the Union address, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley repeatedly scolded Republican House Speaker John Boehner for daring to criticize President Barack Obama’s commitment to reducing the deficit. “There will be a great deal said about compromise and bi-partisanship, but in reality there seems to be very little mood for it,” Pelley despaired, before citing the Speaker as the culprit. He relayed a Boehner quote: “When it comes to the heavy lifting that has to be done, he doesn’t have the guts to do it.”

Pelley expressed disbelief, recounting: “Those of us in the room asked the Speaker if he really meant what he said and he repeated it.” Turning to Bob Schieffer, Pelley mimicked the Obama campaign line, fretting: “He didn’t seem open to change.”

Next on Tuesday night's newscast, he demanded of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: “That’s pretty personal and I wonder if it’s helpful in terms of reaching compromise on legislation?”

Audio: MP3 clip

Neither ABC’s World News nor NBC Nightly News found Boehner’s comments newsworthy.

(Schieffer recognized the reality which escaped Pelley, that Boehner is just dismayed by Obama’s malfeasance: “He just seemed like someone who’d kind of come to the end of his rope. He said at one point, you know, he said ‘I’ve tried nonstop for two years to deal with the President’ and he said ‘I get burned every time’....I thought he was speaking kind of more out of dismay and despair than out of anger.”)

From the EST feed of the Tuesday, February 12 CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY: At the State of the Union address tonight, there will be a great deal said about compromise and bi-partisanship, but in reality there seems to be very little mood for it. Today, in a meeting with reporters, but no cameras, John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, said this of the President and deficit reduction, quote: “When it comes to the heavy lifting that has to be done, he doesn’t have the guts to do it.” Those of us in the room asked the Speaker if he really meant what he said and he repeated it. The Speaker was also asked about whether he would be open to President Obama’s proposal to raise tax revenue by closing loopholes in the tax code. Mr. Boehner said, quote: “The President has gotten his revenue.” He was referring to the recent tax rate increase on wealthier Americans.

Bob Schieffer is our chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation. Bob, you were in that breakfast with the Speaker, he didn’t seem open to change.

BOB SCHIEFFER: No. What was interesting about it to me, Scott, is he was not particularly angry. He just seemed like someone who’d kind of come to the end of his rope. He said at one point, you know, he said “I’ve tried nonstop for two years to deal with the President” and he said “I get burned every time.” He said “I’m hoping we’ll hear something -- some sort of something that, a call to get together on something,” but he said “it just does not seem to be happening.” I thought he was speaking kind of more out of dismay and despair than out of anger. I mean, the one thing he said, he said the President is simply not engaged with the Congress. He said not at the presidential level, not even at the staff level. So I don’t know what the President’s going to say tonight, but so far Republicans don’t seem to be expecting very much.

PELLEY: Looking forward to seeing you later here for the State of the Union, Bob, thank you very much. Just a short while ago at the Capitol we spoke with the number-two Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Speaker Boehner this morning told a group of reporters over breakfast, and I’ll quote, that the President “does not have the guts to do what needs to be done.” That’s pretty personal and I wonder if it’s helpful in terms of reaching compromise on legislation?...

Can you give me something specific, Congressman, that you agree with the President on, that could move through the House and actually pass?

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.