(NOTE: Please see the Activism Update regarding this alert.)
It was no surprise that the Sunday morning talkshows would focus on the indictment of Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay on conspiracy charges. But CBS' Face the Nation covered the DeLay scandal in an unusual manner: by convening a panel of three Republicans.
Congressmembers David Dreier of California, John Shadegg of Arizona and Jim Leach of Iowa--all Republicans--were host Bob Schieffer's only guests on the topic.
Why the curious booking decision? Schieffer explained midway through the interview: "Let me just point out, I didn't invite any Democrats to be on this morning because I thought this was a Republican problem and wanted to give you a chance to talk about it."
But how could the allegation that DeLay illegally funneled corporate donations to Texas Republicans in an effort to win local elections and gerrymander the state's Congressional districts be considered merely a "Republican problem"? Given that the redistricting scheme increased the size of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, the DeLay story affects everyone.
In the discussion of the DeLay scandal, the opposition party did come up: Dreier commented, for instance, that "frankly, there is really no plan that has come forward from Democrats on any issue whatsoever." Presumably if Democrats had been invited to take part in the program, they would have had a response to that statement--not to mention a different take on DeLay's woes.
It's not the first time CBS has apparently determined that a given subject was an exclusively Republican matter. After last November's election--which saw the GOP solidify its power in the White House and Congress--Face the Nation turned to three Republicans to talk about the election: senators Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Chuck Hagel (11/7/04).
This is not typically how Face the Nation has handled controversies involving Democratic politicians. After the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, for instance, the program (2/8/98) interviewed Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott and former Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta for reactions. When there were allegations that Vice President Al Gore was connected to fundraising violations at a Buddhist temple, Face the Nation (7/20/97) discussed the charges with Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The show did not describe these affairs as "Democratic problems."
Contact CBS and tell them that this weekend's Face the Nation discussion about Tom DeLay should not have been turned over exclusively to Republican politicians. Let them know that DeLay's indictment is not, as anchor Bob Schieffer put it, a "Republican problem," but a national one.
CBS Face the Nation
Phone: (202) 457-4481
Also, you can contact CBS's new "Public Eye" ombudsman: