Accuracy in Media

Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer on CBS News attacked John Boehner (R-Oh.) about his smoking habit on September 12, 2010. Transcript below:

SCHIEFFER: “Mr. Boehner, I’m going to ask you this question because I’m not objective about this – I’m a cancer survivor, I used to be a heavy smoker. Do you still smoke?”

BOEHNER: “I do.”

SCHIEFFER: “You have taken $340,000 from the tobacco industry. They’ve been the largest contributor to your political campaigns over the year. How do you square that with the fact that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in this country, 435,000 people, their deaths are linked to cancer, that’s one in five. How do you justify that in your own mind?”

BOEHNER: “Bob, tobacco is a legal product in America. The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want to partake or not. There are lots of things that we deal with and come in contact with every day, from alcohol to food to cigarettes, a lot of the things that aren’t good for our health. But the American people ought to have the right to make those decisions on their own.”

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, if you should become speaker, you could set a good example for the country by saying, I`m going to try to stop smoking. Maybe you could get the president. I understand he smokes too. Maybe the two of you could find a way to try to stop smoking. That would be kind of a good thing, wouldn`t it?

BOEHNER: Bob, I appreciate your suggestion.

You don’t exactly see Schieffer bothering Democrats on his show about their smoking habits, or their tobacco money. At least he mentioned President Obama’s smoking habit, but he is hardly the only Democrat involved with the tobacco industry. In February of this year, 2010, a full dozen of Democrat Senators spent a weekend in Miami Beach, raising money from, among other big corporations, Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris (one of the world’s largest tobacco companies).

According to Politico, those twelve Democrats included DSCC Chairman Robert Menendez, from New Jersey; Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both from Michigan; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Begich of Alaska; and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

In recent years, at least Claire McCaskill and Carl Levin have both been interviewed on Face the Nation, but we haven’t heard much about their connections to the tobacco industry. This is just another case of mainstream media bias.

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