It was brief, and it was interrupted by a line of questioning so soft the segment could have been mistaken for a Fox News hit, but for one minute and 24 seconds, CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil took GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise to task for his inane plan to combat the effects of climate change in his home state.
On Friday, Scalise was completing a round of media appearances to promote his new book, as the day marked the two-year anniversary of him being shot at a congressional baseball practice. On This Morning, the hosts congenially asked questions about election security, the recent Iran nonsense, and trade war with China. Then, around the four-minute mark, Dokoupil took charge and set in with a line of questioning that really only sought two answers: “Do you accept the science of man-made climate change, and if so, where is the plan to address it?”
For those wannabe anchors at home, this is what an interview with a politician in the pocket of Big Oil should look like! For the short time Dokoupil held the floor, CBS This Morning was interesting and held up its journalistic end of the bargain. After having to redirect Scalise multiple times to try to get an answer to the latter half of the question, Dokoupil pointed out that the minority whip’s current preferred course of action—to continue and increase drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico so as to fund efforts to combat climate change—is circular bullshit.
“So to save your constituents from climate change, you’re drilling more in the Gulf of Mexico?” Dokoupil asked.
Scalise’s plan is centered around the Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act, passed in 2006. As a result of the agreement worked out between the Gulf states and the federal government, Louisiana received a $94 million cut from the Department of the Interior for its offshore oil. (Initially, state leaders boasted and believed the rate would be around $175 million, per The Advocate and Courthouse News.) While the funding is needed as the state literally falls into the ocean, that the cash is pulled from fossil fuel profits belies the stated purpose of combatting climate change. It is a short-term grift for those who already largely control the state to cash in on the few remaining years the land has left.
But for all the Dokoupil’s efforts, Scalise was clearly ready to spew his corporatist misdirections for as long as Dokoupil wanted to press him on it—it is, after all, kind of Scalise’s thing. So by the 90-second mark, Scalise was far from being the most uncomfortable person in the room; that title belonged to co-host Michelle Miller.
While regular co-host Anthony Mason was calmly sitting in his chair watching Scalise and Dokoupil go back-and-forth, Miller, who was filling in for Gayle King, got noticeably antsy and tried two separate times to divert the conversation.
Let’s look at the replay. First, she went with the deliberately unsubtle cover flash-and-hold:
Then there was the attempt to catch Scalise’s eye with a casual book lift:
Finally, after Dokoupil gently declined Scalise’s offer to show him his shiny oil rigs—saying he’d already seen them— a pause allowed Miller to swoop in and deliver the five worst words to be repeatedly muttered on cable news: “Let’s talk about your book.”