The long-running CBS News program “60 Minutes” has a manically split personality: Vicious attack dogs when Republicans are in power but supportive infomercial producers under Democrats.
Take March 13 for example, when Anderson Cooper hosted a promotional segment for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the “bipartisan infrastructure bill.” Buttigieg was touted as “40 years old, a Harvard graduate, Rhodes Scholar, and former Navy Reserve officer who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Now he’s dealing with a pandemic-related supply chain crisis and trying to ensure that hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are well-spent on aging transportation systems in desperate need of repair.”
CBS began with a Pittsburgh bridge collapse from January, as Cooper asked Buttigieg a series of bland softballs, such as, “When somebody’s driving over a bridge, should they feel confident?”
Then Cooper followed up: “When grading the overall state of this country’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the U.S. a C-minus. How is it possible that a country like the United States gets a C-minus on infrastructure?”
These are easy pitches. They sound like questions Buttigieg’s publicist emailed to CBS.
There was one question from the left about the infrastructure bill not having “a net positive impact on climate.” There were a couple of feints toward Republican opposition to President Joe Biden’s agenda. They ran a soundbite of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressing skepticism at Buttigieg’s plans to “revitalize low-income black neighborhoods that were divided or damaged by the construction of interstate highways.”
Buttigieg going on paternity leave for two months last year during a supply-chain crisis came up briefly, with a snippet of Tucker Carlson mockery that liberals energetically hated at the time: “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child — paternity leave, they call it — trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went.”
Cooper supportively asked, “Were you surprised by that criticism?” Buttigieg said, “A little bit. Yeah. Because some of it came from corners that talk a lot about family values.”
Sending a famous gay liberal man to interview another famous gay liberal man guaranteed a soft-soap segment. This “Secretary Pete” puffery was quite a contrast to four years ago, when Cooper went full tabloid on “60 Minutes” with porn star Stormy Daniels, who dished the dirt on former President Donald Trump and their alleged sexual encounter in 2006.
The questions were still soft but designed to sting. When Daniels met Trump, Cooper pointed out, “Melania Trump had recently given birth to a son, just a few months before. Did he mention his wife or child at all in this?” Cooper asked Daniels if she was physically attracted to Trump (no) and if Trump used a condom (no).
“I thought of it as a business deal,” she said.
So was the CBS interview, which led to Daniels cashing in and touring strip clubs as part of a “Make America Horny Again” tour.
This was the same “60 Minutes” that had no time to interview Tara Reade, who came forward in 2020 alleging that Biden sexually assaulted her while she worked for him on Capitol Hill in 1993. That story was told by “60 Minutes Australia.”
Cooper finished the segment by noting the engineers who gave America a C-minus on infrastructure hoped Team Biden would take it up to a B. Cooper gushed to Buttigieg. “Have you ever gotten a B in your life? You strike me as the kind of guy who hasn’t gotten a lot of Bs in your life.”
It’s good to be a Democrat.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Tim Graham and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.