Following the March 8 release of an undercover sting video of NPR executive Ron Schiller calling Tea Party members "racist," CBS initially gave no coverage to the ensuing scandal and resignations of him and NPR President Vivian Schiller. However, it turns out that the controversy was covered by a CBS News broadcast, the barely-watched 4 A.M. Morning News.
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric did a news brief on House Republicans voting to de-fund NPR: "Republicans say NPR does well enough to fund itself, but Democrats say a cutoff of federal money would cripple some 600 public radio stations." She failed to make any mention of the scandal that preceded the vote.
On the March 10 CBS Morning News at 4 A.M. ET, anchor Betty Nguyen did only a slightly longer news brief on the release of the sting video:
BETTY NGUYEN: National Public Radio is under renewed fire from conservatives this morning following the release of hidden camera video of an NPR executive deriding Tea Partiers. The same video prompted NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller to resign on Wednesday. Now, in the video, NPR's Ron Schiller, no relation to Vivian, is fooled into believing he is speaking to representatives of a Muslim group about Tea Party conservatives.
RON SCHILLER: They believe in sort of white, Middle America, gun-toting, and it's – it's scary. They're – they're seriously racist, racist people.
NGUYEN: He goes on to say NPR would be better off without federal funding, a goal conservatives have sought for decades. Ron Schiller also resigned from NPR.
So CBS clearly new about the scandal, but felt it was only worth a 4 A.M. news brief rather than a full story on one of its more-watched newscasts. Something both NBC and ABC found time to do.