CBS Yet To Acknowledge Pres. Obama’s Executive Order Flip-Flop

On Wednesday, the White House announced that President Obama is scheduled to issue an executive action on Thursday night that could potentially prevent up to 5 million illegal immigrants from being deported.

While the “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) networks have all reported on the president’s immigration proposals, CBS is the only network to not mention that President Obama has flip-flopped on having the power to issue such an executive order.

During two reports on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and Thursday’s CBS This Morning, Major Garrett, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent, failed to inform his audience that as recently as September 17, 2013, President Obama conceded that he did not have the executive authority to unilaterally delay deportations:  

My job in the executive branch is to carry out the laws that are passed. Congress has said, here’s the law when it comes to those who are undocumented, and they allocate a whole bunch of money for enforcement. What I have been able to do is make a legal argument that I think is absolutely right, which is that given the resources we have, we can’t do everything that Congress has asked us to do, what we can do is then carve out the DREAM Act folks….But if we start broadening that, then essentially, I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally.

While CBS News hasn’t found time to mention the White House’s flip-flop, during the two reports Major Garrett did highlight how “the White House says it has the law and history on its side, that Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush 41 all used executive actions to protect various immigrant groups."

In fact, Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post’s fact checker, went so far as to give President Obama an upside-down Pinocchio for his executive order flip-flop:

The president has certainly been consistent on this issue—until he saw that the path through Congress was blocked. It’s clear from the interviews that the president was not being asked about executive orders that would have provided comprehensive immigration reform, but about specific actions that ended deportations of a subset of illegal immigrants—precisely the type of action he will shortly unveil.

Previously he said that was not possible, using evocative language that he is not a “king” or “the emperor.” Apparently he’s changed his mind. The president earns an upside-down Pinocchio for his flip-flop.

In contrast to CBS, on Wednesday morning, ABC's Good Morning America grilled President Obama for flipping on executive actions and during Thursday morning's Today, NBC reporter Peter Alexander played a clip of President Obama admitting "I'm the President of the United States, I'm not the emperor of the United States." 

See relevant transcript below.

CBS This Morning

November 20, 2014

NORAH O’DONNELL: This morning President Obama is getting ready to take executive action to reform America's immigration system. The president will address the nation tonight. The new rules could affect millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States and Republicans are furious about the president's plan. Major Garrett is at the White House. Major good morning. 

MAJOR GARRETT: Well good morning. The White House admits it’s chosen to pick this fight and it will be a fight now instead of waiting for the new Republican Congress to take over in January. Republicans complain the president simply doesn't have the legal authority to shield from deportation or provide work permits to up to 5 million undocumented adults and children. The president said in an Oval Office video yesterday when it comes to Congress dealing with the issue, well, he's waited long enough. 

BARACK OBAMA: Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long. 

GARRETT: Top advisers say the president has the law and history on his side. 

JOSH EARNEST: Presidents from Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes took executive action to deal with what they characterized as some problems with the broken immigration system. 

GARRETT: And now President Obama will act. The goal? Free from deportation an estimated 5 million undocumented adults and children. Most of the adults would also be eligible for work permits. Those most likely to qualify, undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or parents of children with permanent legal resident status. Also more children who were brought here illegally as youngsters, the so-called dreamers. Top Republicans call the move reckless. 

JOHN CORNYN: The president’s going to tell the people who’ve been waiting patiently in line, playing by the rules, get in the back of the line, I'm going to put millions of people ahead of you in front of the line who have not played by the rules. 

GARRETT: The Democrats warned Republicans they are on the wrong side of history. 

DICK DURBIN: When any political party in history has decided to make anti-immigration their standard and their value, they have withered and disappeared as they should. 

GARRETT: The president will set all this in motion formally when he signs the necessary paperwork in an event Las Vegas on Friday, but the sparring over this, Charlie, well, that's already begun. 

CHARLIE ROSE: Major thanks.

— Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Jeffrey Meyer on Twitter.