CBS's O'Donnell Contends Perry's Views on Global Warming and Social Security Make Him Unelectable

CBS's Norah O'Donnell, filling in on Face the Nation, just couldn't comprehend how a candidate espousing true conservative views could possibly capture the White House. Referring to Rick Perry, she demanded: 'Can the Republican Party elect someone President who doesn't believe in global warming?'

She described Perry's fairly conventional conservative assessment of Social Security as 'controversial,' citing how in his book he described the program as 'a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal,' a 'bad disease' and that 'it was set up like a, quote 'illegal Ponzi scheme.'' Repeating her earlier formulation, O'Donnell wondered: 'Can you elect a Republican to the White House who thinks Social Security is a bad disease?'

To showcase the 'controversial' statements, CBS displayed them all on screen.

( has a good take down, by Christopher Horner, of a dishonest Washington Post 'Fact Check' on Perry's global warming comments.)

Oddly, given there was no special event to justify it, Face the Nation was produced from an office building overlooking the Capitol, about a block away from ABC This Week's usual Newseum venue, instead of from the CBS News Washington bureau downtown.

During the opening segment with McCain, when the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee asserted 'spending has been really proven not to be a solution. Remember when we passed the stimulus the prediction was eight percent unemployment?', O'Donnell jumped in with an Obama campaign talking point: 'Well, many economists say had they not done the stimulus, it would have been much worse.'

During a subsequent segment with former party charimen Tery McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie, before pressing Gillespie to explain how Perry could possibly win given his views on Social Security, O'Donnell did at least hit McAuliffe: 'We now have three quarters of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of the economy. How do you get elected when three quarters of Americans don't approve the way you're handling the economy?'

But that's a process question, not a case of calling into doubt the viability of Obama's left wing ideological positions.

From the Sunday, August 21 Face the Nation:

NORAH O'DONNELL, TO JOHN McCAIN: Governor Rick Perry has just entered the field. Do you believe he's telling the truth when he says there's not a lot of science behind global warming. Listen to what he said.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (Wednesday; Bedford, New Hampshire): I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data, so that they will have dollars rolling in to their- to their projects.

NORAH O'DONNELL: You believe in global warming, Rick Perry does not. Can you elect someone President or can the Republican Party elect someone President who doesn't believe in global warming?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Oh, I think that people judge the candidates by their overall strengths and weaknesses. He's got, brings a lot of strengths to the table because of the Texas economy and his experience as a Governor. I don't expect to agree with every candidate on every issue and I'm going to take a while before I support one of them.

NORAH O'DONNELL: And what about his comments about Ben Bernanke that his actions have bordered on treasonous. Is that a presidential comment?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: You know, Norah, I can't critique each one of these candidates-

NORAH O'DONNELL: You're the original straight talker!


NORAH O'DONNELL, TO ED GILLESPIE: But let me ask you about some of the controversial comments that have been made by the newest entrants into the field, the Texas Governor Rick Perry. He's made some comments especially in his book Fed Up. He referred to Social Security in his book as, quote, 'a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.' He compared Social Security to a, quote 'bad disease' and that it was set up like a, quote 'illegal Ponzi scheme.' Can you elect a Republican to the White House who thinks Social Security is a bad disease?

ED GILLESPIE: Well, I've not read the book. I know this, the Social-

NORAH O'DONNELL: That's okay. We gave you the excerpts.

ED GILLESPIE: Yeah, yeah, right. Social Security reform is going to be one of the most significant issues. I think entitlement reform as a whole is going to be a major issue in this presidential election. And the fact that President Obama has failed to embrace any kind of significant entitlement reforms, that's part of the problem, that's why we have a AA-plus bond rating now as opposed to a AAA bond rating because of this unwillingness to tackle entitlement reform at all.

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