CBS' Orr repeated GOP claims blaming Pelosi's speech for bailout failure without noting contrary evidence, offered even by Republicans

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN, MEREDITH ADAMS & LILY YAN

On the CBS Evening News, Bob Orr repeated Republican claims that "[c]onservative support" for the financial bailout bill "evaporated" because of a speech given by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- without noting contrary statements by members of Congress, including Republicans.

On the September 29 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, correspondent Bob Orr repeated Republican claims that "[c]onservative support" for the financial bailout bill "evaporated" because of a speech given by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) -- despite contrary statements by members of Congress, including Republicans. Echoing assertions by the House Republican leadership, Orr reported that "Republicans say the debate took a fatal partisan turn when Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed the financial crisis on what she called the failed policies of the Bush administration," but did not report statements from members of both parties disputing those assertions, including from one Republican who reportedly called such assertions "nonsense." Indeed, CBS edited a statement from Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in a way that obscured the fact that Frank was disputing the notion that Pelosi's speech caused Republicans to vote against the bill.

Moreover, Orr's suggestion that conservative support for the bill "evaporated" because of Pelosi's speech is contradicted by other reporting. Fox News senior House producer Chad Pergram reported nearly an hour before Pelosi's speech began that he was "hearing from the Republican side of the aisle, they may only have 40 to 60 of their members" supporting the bill, a number that Pergram noted "leaves us very short there." Sixty-five Republicans and 140 Democrats ultimately voted for the bill -- 12 votes short of the number needed for passage.

From Orr's report:

ORR: But Republicans say the debate took a fatal partisan turn when Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed the financial crisis on what she called the failed policies of the Bush administration.

PELOSI: They claim to be free-market advocates when it's really an anything-goes mentality. No regulation, no supervision, no discipline.

ORR: Conservative support, which had been somewhat shored up over the weekend, evaporated. And when the roll was called, two-thirds of the Republicans voted no.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): We've put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today. But the speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference.

ORR: Democrats, who got 60 percent of their members to vote for the bill, shot back, accusing Republicans of throwing a political temper tantrum.

FRANK: There's a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis, and because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country.

The context of Frank's comments makes clear that he was actually ridiculing the "hardly plausible" idea that Pelosi's speech caused Republicans to oppose the bill and stating that he believed that Republicans were, in fact, "covering up the embarrassment of not having the votes" needed to pass the bill:

FRANK: I am appalled -- frankly, that's an accusation against my Republican colleagues I would never have thought of making. Here's the story. There's a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis. And because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country. I mean, I would not have imputed that degree of pettiness and hypersensitivity.

I mean, we also have, as the leader will tell you, we've been working with them -- we don't believe they had the votes, and I think they're covering up the embarrassment of not having the votes -- but think about this. Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country. I mean, that's hardly plausible.

And there are 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interests of America, but not if anybody insulted them -- I'll make an offer. Give me those 12 people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country.

More than an hour before Orr's report, the Politico's Ryan Grim reported that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA), a "lead opponent" of the bill, dismissed claims that Pelosi's speech changed votes:

"To be honest, somebody finding out that Nancy Pelosi made a partisan speech? I'm shocked," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a lead opponent of the bailout package, who tells the Crypt that the idea that her speech shifted votes is "nonsense."

And The Hill reported on September 29:

Republicans exited the chamber and immediately began to lay the blame at the feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for delivering what they called a blatantly partisan speech rife with demagoguery.

Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) said that "[Majority] Leader [Steny] Hoyer's [D-Md.] comments were well-received, but hers clearly had a partisan bent."

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), who helped lead the Democratic whipping effort, adamantly rejected the GOP spin.

"They knew coming in how they would vote," Crowley said. "The bottom line is that we said we'd get a majority of our caucus, and we did it. They did not meet their obligation."

Following Orr's report, Boehner himself appeared to contradict the suggestion that Pelosi's speech caused conservative "support" for the bill to "evaporate[]." During an interview with anchor Katie Couric, Boehner said that the members who purportedly changed their votes because of Pelosi's speech had not, in fact, been "committed to vote for" the bill in the first place but were simply those "we thought that we could bring along on the floor":

COURIC: What was the impact of Speaker Pelosi's remarks today, in your view?

BOEHNER: Well, we had about a dozen members that we thought that we could bring along on the floor. They were in play, not committed to vote for it, but after what I thought was a rather partisan speech, given the nature of this bill and how we've worked in a bipartisan way, it really killed our chances to get any of those dozen members to actually come our way and vote for the bill. It just didn't need to happen. I know we're five weeks from an election, but we could have waited until this bill passed to begin firing partisan shots.

Couric subsequently interviewed Hoyer, asking him whether complaints about Pelosi's speech were actually "an excuse for not supporting" the bill. Hoyer responded, "Absolutely," and referenced Frank's remarks.

From the September 29 broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

[video clip]

ORR: Still, passage was expected. Failure, both sides had repeatedly warned, could further stretch shaky markets and possibly trigger a widespread economic collapse.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): This bill is not popular, but it is necessary.

REP. JOHN CAMPBELL (R-CA): This issue is too grave, the consequences are too dire.

ORR: But Republicans say the debate took a fatal partisan turn when Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed the financial crisis on what she called the failed policies of the Bush administration.

PELOSI: They claim to be free-market advocates when it's really an anything-goes mentality. No regulation, no supervision, no discipline.

ORR: Conservative support, which had been somewhat shored up over the weekend, evaporated. And when the roll was called, two-thirds of the Republicans voted no.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): We've put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today. But the speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference.

ORR: Democrats, who got 60 percent of their members to vote for the bill, shot back, accusing Republicans of throwing a political temper tantrum.

FRANK: There's a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis, and because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country.

ORR: As the finger-pointing continued, Wall Street went into a free fall. Negotiators had worked around the clock through the weekend to craft a compromise that would appease both sides and calm the markets. Republicans had won concessions to force banks and financial firms to pay their own fair share of any government bailout, and Democrats had held firm in demanding executive compensation caps and mortgage relief. But it all came undone.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I was disappointed in the vote with --

ORR: Now, the president and weary congressional bargainers are looking for a new way out of this mess.

BUSH: And we'll be working to develop a strategy that will enable us to continue to move forward.

[end video clip]

ORR: Now, the House could take another crack at a bailout bill later this week, but it's not going to be easy. Many conservatives insist they'll never support any kind of bailout that uses taxpayer money to clean up Wall Street's mess. Katie.

COURIC: Bob Orr in Washington. Bob, thank you. Republican Congressman John Boehner of Ohio is the House minority leader. He's one of the chief negotiators for the Republicans. Congressman Boehner, Warren Buffet warned if Congress doesn't act, quote, "there would be the biggest financial meltdown in American history." What in the world are you people doing?

BOEHNER: Well, Katie, I was there on the floor today urging members to support this bill. But you have to understand that you've got members on both sides of the aisle who are getting thousands of calls from their constituents saying, "Don't ever vote for this." Now, I believe that it's in the best interest of our country to pass this bill. And I've worked overtime over the last 10 days to try to find a way to protect taxpayers and to have this package pass because I think the risk to the American people, to our economy, is so important that we cannot fail to act like we did today.

COURIC: What was the impact of Speaker Pelosi's remarks today, in your view?

BOEHNER: Well, we had about a dozen members that we thought that we could bring along on the floor. They were in play, not committed to vote for it, but after what I thought was a rather partisan speech, given the nature of this bill and how we've worked in a bipartisan way, it really killed our chances to get any of those dozen members to actually come our way and vote for the bill. It just didn't need to happen. I know we're five weeks from an election, but we could have waited until this bill passed to begin firing partisan shots.

COURIC: And how do you cobble this thing back together, and when?

BOEHNER: Katie, you know, the Democrats control Congress, and Speaker Pelosi's going to have to make some decisions about how to move ahead. I think the dust has to settle here this evening, and then we'll have a better chance later on tonight and tomorrow to make some determinations about how best to proceed and proceed together.

COURIC: House Minority Leader John Boehner. Congressman, thank you very much.

BOEHNER: Thank you.

COURIC: Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland is the House majority leader. Congressman Hoyer, why weren't you able to deliver more Democrats so you could prevent this major failure of American government today?

HOYER: Well, you know, Katie, we delivered two-thirds of the Democrats for a proposal by the Republican president and Republican secretary of state -- secretary of treasury. So, we think we did our job, and we worked very hard at making sure that we had that two-thirds vote.

COURIC: Why do you think President Bush, John McCain, the Republican leadership couldn't do more to convince their members?

HOYER: Because I think the Republican ideology overcame their common sense, overcame their sense of crisis and their -- and the request by their leaders to act so that this crisis could be, if not averted, at least diminished.

COURIC: Speaker Pelosi made some remarks today. She talked about the cost of the Bush administration's failed economic policies, policies built on budgetary recklessness. Apparently, a lot of House Republicans were really put off by her remarks.

HOYER: Katie, of course, as you know, I gave -- you may know, I gave the closing statement on our side of the aisle and talked about the need to work in a bipartisan fashion.

COURIC: Do you think people are complaining about her speech as an excuse for not supporting this?

HOYER: Absolutely. Barney Frank said it best. This was a vote of great consequence. This was a vote to stabilize the economy of this country. If members are going to base their vote on what one member or the other says as opposed to the facts that confront our country and our economy, then perhaps their constituents ought to reconsider sending them to the Congress.

COURIC: Congressman Steny Hoyer. Congressman, thank you.

HOYER: Katie, thank you very much.

From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

JON SCOTT (host): The crucial vote just about an hour away now. Fox's senior House producer, Chad Pergram, is live from Capitol Hill. He joins us now by phone. All right, this vote, coming up in about an hour or so, Chad. Any guesses as to how it's going to go?

PERGRAM: I'll tell you what. This is really an exceedingly tough vote. Lawmakers are literally all over the map on this, and it's because the stakes are so high. You know, cobbling together coalitions in Congress to pass or defeat bills is a very specialized bit of alchemy. Nobody really knows how many Republicans might go for this, how many Democrats might go for this.

I'm hearing that there are about 130 members of the Democratic caucus that would go for this. That's about 105 short, out of their total membership. But they need about 90 Republicans, if that's the case. And I'm hearing from the Republican side of the aisle, they may only have 40 to 60 of their members, and that leaves us very short there. This is going to be a tense hour here. We're at D-day, H-hour, as they said at Normandy, and we don't know how this is going to go. There's going to be a lot of knuckle-cracking and arm-twisting in the next hour, if you hear that coming out of Capitol Hill here.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
CBS
Person
Bob Orr
Show/Publication
CBS Evening News
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