ABC Newscasts Don't Mention VA Scandal Over Memorial Day Weekend But Do Highlight Obama's 'Surprise Visit'

At the time when the country is remembering the ultimate sacrifice veterans have given this country ABC’s (World News) evening and (Good Morning America) morning shows didn’t devote a second to the VA scandal over this Memorial Day weekend. However, those shows did spend time on President Barack Obama receiving “cheers” during his surprise visit to Afghanistan.

While ABC didn’t offer a second on its newscasts (from Friday evening through Monday night) on the VA scandal CBS devoted a total of 8 minutes, 39 seconds on its (Evening News) evening and (CBS This Morning) morning shows during that same time period. NBC spent 3 minutes, 34 seconds on its (Nightly News) evening and (Today) morning shows over the long weekend.

However ABC did find a story it wanted to trumpet.

On Sunday’s World News ABC’s David Muir reported on “that surprise this Sunday from President Obama, his visit to Afghanistan and our troops this Memorial Day weekend.” Muir, teasing a Muhammad Lila report, continued: “The commander-in-chief received with cheers in that hangar at Bagram Airfield. And while there, he talked about how grateful Americans are back home for their service and about what should happen when those vets come home.”

Receiving top-notch medical care was not mentioned as something that “should happen when those vets come home” in the ensuing Lila piece. The Lila piece did offer soundbites of Obama urging Americans to send more cookies and to “hire a vet” when they come home. Lila then concluded the piece this way:

LILA: And the president, known to take a selfie from time to time, ending in a way that only he could.

BARACK OBAMA: Now I’m going to shake every single hand in here. Although I may not be able to take a selfie with everybody. But I’ll shake every hand.

LILA: Now, we don’t know if he did shake every hand in that room, but he spent nearly an hour in there with the soldiers, once the speech was finished. David?

Through Monday evening ABC devoted a total of 4 minutes to the Obama trip on its newscasts.



It should be noted that the while VA scandal wasn’t mentioned on ABC’s evening and morning newscasts it did get time on the its political roundtable show on Sunday. ABC’s This Week spent a total of 7 minutes, 53 seconds on the VA scandal. There was also a brief 4-second mention, as part of a teaser, on Friday night’s Nightline.

The following segment was aired on the May 25 edition of ABC’s World News with David Muir:

DAVID MUIR: But we do move on tonight, and to that surprise this Sunday from President Obama, his visit to Afghanistan and our troops this Memorial Day weekend. The commander-in- chief received with cheers in that hangar at Bagram Airfield.. And while there, he talked about how grateful Americans are back home for their service and about what should happen when those vets come home. ABC's Muhammad Lila reports from Kabul tonight.

[On screen headline: “Show of Support, Surprise Visit to Afghanistan”]

MUHAMMAD LILA: Landing under the cover of darkness, a secret trip and a chance to say an early Memorial Day thank you.

BARACK OBAMA: For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan.

LILA: Even offering this reminder of a grateful and generous nation.

OBAMA: You see it in the kids across America, who send you all the care packages and the girl scout cookies.  Those were pretty popular, huh? You like those cookies, huh? All right. I’ll bet you’ll get some more now.

LILA: It’s Obama’s first trip here in nearly two years. So secret, it was announced only after he landed. This room packed with soldiers, erupting in applause with this.

OBAMA: And I keep on saying to every company back home, if you want somebody who knows how to get the job done, hire a vet. Hire a vet. Hire a vet.

LILA: And the president, known to take a selfie from time to time, ending in a way that only he could.

OBAMA: Now I’m going to shake every single hand in here. Although I may not be able to take a selfie with everybody. But I’ll shake every hand.

LILA: Now, we don’t know if he did shake every hand in that room, but he spent nearly an hour in there with the soldiers, once the speech was finished. David?

MUIR: All right, Muhammad Lila tonight. Muhammad thanks.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.