CBS Criticizes Trump’s Business Tactics After Healthcare Bill Pulled
Scott Pelley and CBS have gained a reputation as the most aggressive national news broadcast toward President Donald Trump. That continued following the Republican healthcare bill failure on March 24.
Other network anchors, NBC’s Lester Holt and ABC’s Tom Llamas, were significantly less aggressive in describing the president’s failed bill.
“The signature Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare is down for the count tonight—President Trump and House Speaker Ryan throwing in the towel,” Holt said. “The president himself [was] facing cameras and pointing fingers in the Oval Office.”
Llamas began ABC’s broadcast:“President Trump suffering his biggest defeat since winning the election, forced to pull the Republican health care bill minutes before the vote in the House, where it was certain to fail.”
CBS went further, appearing to criticize Trump’s lack of political savvy and shortcomings in making deals.
“The president, who said that he could negotiate better than any politician, was not able to muster enough of them,” Pelley said. “Last night, Mr. Trump miscalculated, issuing a CEO’s ultimatum. He told Republicans that if they didn’t pass his bill today, they could forget the whole thing; he’d leave Obamacare in place.”
Pelley continued, “The president, who fancies himself a master of the art of the deal, is still an apprentice in the science of politics.” The word “apprentice” alludes to Trump’s former NBC reality show— a background that some news outlets have ridiculed pointing to his perceived incompetence as president.
In an interview with correspondent John Dickerson, Pelley remarked, “The president can’t seem to get out of his own way because of his penchant for falsehoods.”
This type of language from CBS has become commonplace during Trump’s administration, but does it go too far? Senior ABC News producer and former NPR executive Richard Harris said it’s close.
“Pelley is walking right up to the line, but generally not crossing it,” Harris said. “This is, to say the least, an unconventional presidency. It is not irrelevant that Trump brags or tweets — not always truthfully or with evidence — so it is appropriate to point it out to the audience.”
Harris did feel that Pelley’s “apprentice” remark was unnecessary and could be viewed as anti-Trump.
“The word ‘apprentice’ might be too cute by half,” he said. “Use a sound bite when a member of Congress or some official says it, but as a general rule, I don’t think an anchor should use a pejorative in describing the president unless he’s quoting someone. What the anchorman doesn’t want to do is give members of the audience ammunition to say he’s showing a bias.”
Ultimately, Harris said, CBS’s creative style and the more straightforward approach by NBC and ABC are fine, as long as they provide correct information to the audience.
“Style is the call of the anchor/managing editor and the executive producer. Some want to play it straight; others want a certain flair,” he said. “Facts are key. The audience needs to understand what happened and, to the degree it can be reported, why.”