CNN Catches Up On Baucus Scandal & Labels as Dem More Than Other Nets

While it has been documented that CNN's Howard Kurtz chided his own news network for ignoring the recently-revealed scandal involving Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominating his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position -- after the CNN anchor had monitored CNN on Saturday -- it turns out that on Sunday morning, even before Kurtz's Reliable Sources show had begun, CNN had already started to pay more attention to the scandal than the news network had on Saturday, but -- while one may argue the story deserves even more attention -- CNN Sunday Morning actually devoted somewhat more time to the story than the other morning newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, and even FNC.

Baucus was also directly labeled as a Democrat by CNN Sunday Morning co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Betty Nguyen, which the two had done in the previous day's story on CNN Saturday Morning. The Baucus scandal was mentioned several other times during the day on CNN NewsRoom, each time with Baucus clearly identified as a Democrat.

Neither ABC's Good Morning America, nor FNC's Fox and Friends directly labeled Baucus as a Democrat during the weekend, although on Fox and Friends Sunday Baucus's party could be indirectly inferred because the story involved criticism from RNC chairman Michael Steele.

Below is a roundup of how the Baucus scandal story was reported on morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and FNC, on Saturday and Sunday:

On ABC, Good Morning America on both Saturday and Sunday mentioned the story once each day, but not Baucus's party affiliation. ABC's World News was preempted on Saturday, and there was no mention on the Sunday edition.

On CBS, Saturday's The Early Show mentioned Baucus with his party affiliation, while Saturday's CBS Evening News -- which was preempted in most places -- did not mention Baucus's party.

On NBC, Saturday's Today show and the same day's NBC Nightly News mentioned the scandal, in both cases identifying Baucus as a Democrat.

For CNN, a Nexis search finds only one mention of the scandal on Saturday, but several others at various times on Sunday. CNN Saturday Morning spent about a minute on the story without mentioning that Baucus is a Democrat. But on Sunday, as the story was mentioned several times -- not only on CNN Sunday Morning but also on CNN NewsRoom at various hours -- in nearly all cases Baucus was identified as a Democrat.

On FNC, Fox and Friends Saturday mentioned the story twice without relaying party affiliation, and Fox and Friends Sunday mentioned the scandal without directly identifying Baucus as a Democrat, although one might infer his party affiliation because the story involved RNC chairman Michael Steele criticizing the Montana Senator. There was no mention on FNC's Fox Report.

#From ABC's December 5 Good Morning America at 7:06 a.m.:

JOHN BERMAN: Senator Max Baucus of Montana had already begun an affair with his current girlfriend when he nominated her for U.S. attorney in March. She later withdrew her name from consideration and works in the Justice Department.

#From ABC's December 6 Good Morning America at 8:09 a.m.:

JOHN BERMAN: Montana Senator Max Baucus is defending his decision to recommend his girlfriend for U.S. attorney. Baucus says Melodee Haines is a highly qualified prosecutor who conducted more than 100 jury trials. And the Senator says he appointed a third-party reviewer to oversee the process. Of course, that reviewer was also a Baucus campaign contributor. Haines’ nomination was later withdrawn.

#From CBS's December 5 The Early Show on CBS at 9:34 a.m.:

SETH DOANE: And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus was romantically involved with a former staffer when he recommended her earlier this year to become the next U.S. attorney for Montana. That’s according to a spokesperson for the Montana Democrat. His girlfriend Mellody Haines was his former state office director. She has since withdrawn her name from consideration.

#From the December 5 CBS Evening News, based on the Nexis transcript:

JEFF GLOR: Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus has confirmed a news report tonight that he was romantically involved with a former staffer who he recommended for U.S. attorney`s job in Montana last year. A spokesman says Melodee Haines withdrew her name from a list of three finalists submitted to the White House, after she and Baucus decided to move in together.

#From NBC's December 5 Today show at 7:18 a.m.:

TAMRON HALL: And Democratic Senator Max Baucus was romantically involved with a former staffer when he recommended her to become the next U.S. attorney for Montana. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee recommended Mellody Haines and two others to the White House as potential nominees. The two began their relationship in the summer of 2008 after Baucus separated from his wife. Haines later withdrew her name from consideration.

#From the December 5 NBC Nightly News at 6:32 p.m. at the end of a report on the health care debate:

MIKE VIQUEIRA: And, Lester, one of the Democratic leaders in that health care debate – you saw him in that piece – Max Baucus of Montana, under an ethical cloud tonight after it turns out that he nominated his girlfriend who used to work for him in his U.S. Senate office to be the top U.S. prosecutor in his home state of Montana. Baucus was besieged outside the Senate chamber today by reporters. He says that Melodee Haines, his girlfriend, is highly qualified, but now Republicans are calling for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.

From the December 5 CNN Saturday Morning News at 6:43 a.m.:

T.J. HOLMES: Something, a player, a name that a lot of people might not know a whole lot about from a state that most people don’t know a whole lot about, but he’s been important in the health care debate.

BETTY NGUYEN: Definitely.

HOLMES: Senator Max Baucus, out of Montana, he’s a key player on a Senate committee that’s been putting together some health care legislation. Well, news coming out that he actually nominated his current girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position, while the two were involved. Now they’re both divorced here, so that’s not an issue and not accused of breaking up each other marriages.

NGUYEN: Yes, there was no affair or anything like that at all.

HOLMES: Nothing like that.

NGUYEN: The question lies in the fact, should he have been able to screen the applicants, she being one of them, and go ahead and nominate her for the position?

HOLMES: Of course, she did not. They decided that once the process moved along and they had gotten more involved in their relationship that she should withdrawal her name. So she didn't get the position. She now works at the Justice Department. But it’s raising just a few questions about what you should be able to do, a person in power, as far as trying to have influence, or nominate someone you’re romantically involved with.

NGUYEN: And should it have gone even that far? Because she was down to what, like, three applicants?

HOLMES: The final three.

NGUYEN: Yeah, the final three applicants, so let us know what you think about that. You can go to our Facebook and Twitter sites, as well as our CNN blog. You can reach out to us several ways. We do want to hear from you. We will be reading your responses today, so hit us up and let us know what you think.

#From the December 6 CNN Sunday Morning 6:00 a.m. hour:

T.J. HOLMES: And Senator Baucus' office confirms that indeed he recommended his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney post. But the Montana Democrat says Melodee Haines withdrew her name as the two became closer. Baucus says they weren't having an affair because both were separated from their spouses at the time. They've since both gotten divorces. Baucus is a key figure in the health care debate. He is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Republican National Committee chairman, meanwhile, Michael Steele, he wants an ethics investigation.


#From the December 6 CNN Sunday Morning 8:00 a.m. hour:

BETTY NGUYEN: Senator Max Baucus' office confirms that he has -- or had recommended his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney post. But the Montana Democrat says Melodee Haines withdrew her name as the two became closer. Baucus says they weren't having an affair because both were separated from their spouses. Baucus is a key figure in the health care debate. Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, wants an ethics investigation.
...
 
NGUYEN: Well, you know, talking about health care, Senator Max Baucus -- I mean, he's one of the main players in that, but he's also getting some press for something else that he's been involved in. And that being a recommendation of his girlfriend to a U.S. attorney position, and that's causing a lot of eyebrows to be raised.

JOHN KING: It is causing a lot of eyebrows. The chairman of the Republican National Committee says there needs to be an ethics investigation here of Senator Max Baucus. He's a huge player in the health care debate. He's the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

And, essentially, what happened was a woman who worked for him in his Montana office, they later had a romantic relationship, and he had put her up, one of two candidates for the federal prosecutor jobs out there, U.S. attorney's jobs. Now, they later withdrew her name, and he says in part because they decided, if she got the job, they didn't want to live 2,000 miles apart. She now lives in Washington, D.C., with the Senator. They have a relationship. He says it's a very romantic, healthy relationship.

But many are saying, "Wait a minute, Senator, why didn't the red flag go up, why did you recommend not only a former staffer but a former staffer with whom you now have a romantic relationship. How could you possibly recommend her for this job? The Senator says he believes he did nothing wrong, that he was very open about the relationship. Her name has now been withdrawn, so she will not be that federal prosecutor. But there are some people asking questions about this. And the Senator came out and talked to reporters about it yesterday. And he said, take a peek at it, take a look at it, you know, and I think everything's fine, and we have a great relationship now, and he says a "non-issue." We'll see how this one goes forward.

HOLMES: Well, you've got everything going on today, I'm sure it's today on the show, Afghanistan, health care, jobs, boyfriend/girlfriend, all that stuff I know you'll be talking about on State of the Union.

#From the December 6 CNN NewsRoom 4:00 p.m. hour:

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: The Senate finance chairman could find himself in the middle of an ethics investigation. Democrat Max Baucus is coming under fire for recommending his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position in his home state of Montana. The woman later withdrew her name. Baucus says the move was an open and fair process. Republicans are calling for an investigation.

#From the December 6 CNN NewsRoom 6:00 p.m. hour:

DON LEMON: The Senate Finance Committee chairman could find himself in the middle of an ethics investigation. Democrat Max Baucus is coming under fire for recommending his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position in his home state of Montana. The woman, Melodee Haines, later withdrew her name. Baucus says the move was an open and fair process and Haines's name was one of six submitted. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is calling for an investigation.

#From the December 5 CNN NewsRoom 7:00 p.m. hour:

DON LEMON: The Senate Finance Committee Chairman could find himself in the middle of an ethics investigation. Democrat Max Baucus is coming under fire for recommending his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position in his home state of Montana. The woman, Melodee Haines, later withdrew her name. Baucus says the move was an open and fair process and Haines's name was one of six submitted. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is calling for an investigation.

#From the December 5 Fox and Friends Saturday, aired at 7:10 a.m. and repeated at 9:04 a.m.:

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Senator Max Baucus coming clean this morning after revelations that he was involved with his girlfriend when he nominated her for U.S. attorney in Montana. A spokesman for Baucus says he and Melodee Haines first began dating in 2008, and Baucus nominated her in March of that year. Haines withdrew her name from the nomination process when the couple decided to live together in Washington.

#From the December 6 Fox and Friends Sunday at 9:04 a.m.:

ALISYN CAMEROTA: The chairman of the Republican National Committee is calling for an ethics investigation into Senator Max Baucus. Michael Steele says the Senate should look into why Baucus recommended his girlfriend for a state job. Baucus admits he nominated Melodee Haines for a U.S. attorney post in Montana, but he defends the move saying she was qualified. Haines withdrew her name from.the process this year when the couple decided to live together in Washington, D.C.