Networks Sympathetic to Violent UK Protests Against 'Skyrocketing' College Tuition

On Friday, all three network morning shows expressed sympathy for protestors in London rioting against college tuition increases, despite a Thursday attack on the royal family. While CBS's Early Show, ABC's Good Morning America, and NBC's Today all reported on security concerns over Prince Charles and wife Camilla, each broadcast also lamented Britain's "drastic new budget cuts."

At the top of the Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "There have been these protesters in London for a couple weeks now because tuition hikes for college tuition skyrocketing there." Fill-in co-host Rebecca Jarvis then chimed in by arguing on behalf of the rioters: "Of course they pay very high taxes there so they expect something for those taxes." Later, in an 8:00AM ET hour news brief, anchor Jeff Glor pointed out: "In the last fiscal year, the government spent $60 million on household costs for the royals....But, the government still voted to triple university tuition to $14,000 a year to help control the deficit."

Good Morning America began its coverage of the protests with a report from correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, who seemed to place blame for the violence on the British government: "...the Conservative government here forced through legislation that will triple the cost of university tuition. Up to $15,000 a year, in a country that just a few years ago, offered free tuition as a remedy for inequality. The government says it has to raise tuition to maintain quality education in the face of a huge deficit. But in so doing, it has revived the class warfare that ripped apart this country a generation ago."

Following that report, co-host George Stephanopoulos talked with This Week host Christiane Amanpour and suggested doom for the conservative party: "Is there any sense that this government, this coalition government, could fall because of the protests, because of the budget cuts?" Amanpour rejected the notion: "Not at this point." Later, Stepahanopoulos warned of similar violence in the United States: "A lot of people look at those protests. Look at our debt and deficit and say that their present is our future."

In comparison to CBS and ABC, coverage on NBC's Today focused mostly on the security of the royal family in the wake of the protests. However, correspondent Peter Alexander did make this remark during his report: "All across London, Thursday, students protested, while the government voted to nearly triple college tuition in a country where college had long been free. Part of sweeping and drastic new budget cuts."

Here is a portion of the December 10 Early Show coverage:

7:01AM ET TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: First though, we want to talk about these royals yesterday, there's Prince Charles and Camilla, they're in a limo. There have been these protesters in London for a couple weeks now because tuition hikes for college tuition skyrocketing there. And yesterday there was a big vote in Parliament, the protests got out of control and they ended up engulfed with the protesters. And people are saying how on earth could this happen?

REBECCA JARVIS: How on earth can this happen? Of course they pay very high taxes there so they expect something for those taxes. These are the austerity measures, they have had major protests there for weeks now.

8:01 ET NEWS BRIEF:

JEFF GLOR: British officials have launched a criminal investigation now into a major security breach involving the royal family. The car carrying Prince Charles and his wife was attacked last night by student demonstrators protesting a tuition hike. Up to 20 protestors ran up to the car, they broke a window, and they threw paint and eggs. There's some video of that there. The Prince and Duchess were not hurt.

Thousands battled police through the day after Parliament voted to increase college tuition there. In the last fiscal year, the government spent $60 million on household costs for the royals. A figure that will only be slightly increased this year. But, the government still voted to triple university tuition to $14,000 a year to help control the deficit.

Here is some of the Good Morning America coverage:

7:01AM ET

VOICE OF RIOTER: Tory scum! Tory scum!

JEFFREY KOFMAN: Three police on motorcycles and an escort car. Overwhelmed security officers struggled to regain control. The royal couple emerged unharmed and went on with their official duties, leaving behind their paint-splattered limousine, with its shattered windows. All that followed an angry day of protests outside Britain's Parliament as the Conservative government here forced through legislation that will triple the cost of university tuition. Up to $15,000 a year, in a country that just a few years ago, offered free tuition as a remedy for inequality. The government says it has to raise tuition to maintain quality education in the face of a huge deficit. But in so doing, it has revived the class warfare that ripped apart this country a generation ago. Why are you so angry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE RIOTER: Why am I so angry? Because they're trying to divide society and force working class kids out of good jobs, out of an education. They are trying to steal education away from the working class and keep it for themselves.

Here is a portion of Today's coverage:

7:02AM ET

PETER ALEXANDER: All across London, Thursday, students protested, while the government voted to nearly triple college tuition in a country where college had long been free. Part of sweeping and drastic new budget cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTOR#1: It's the banks that caused this and we having to pay!

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTOR#2: Yeah!

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC