NBC's 'Today' Gives More Time to Malia Obama Driving Than VA Scandal; ABC's 'GMA' Edits Out Criticism of President

A day after President Obama finally reacted to the Veteran's Affair scandal after weeks of silence, NBC's Today could only manage a couple news briefs on the development, totaling forty-seven seconds. Meanwhile, the morning show devoted one minute and nineteen seconds to First Daughter Malia Obama learning to drive this summer.  

ABC's Good Morning America at least provided a full report on the VA scandal, but edited out any criticism of Obama. On Wednesday's World News, correspondent Jim Avila included a soundbite from a family member of a veteran who died waiting for care who accused the President of "lying" about the scandal. However, that clip vanished from Avila's GMA report Thursday morning.

That report totaled one minute and forty-three seconds, barely more time than the one minute and thirty-one seconds that GMA provided to Malia Obama seeking her driver's license.   

By contrast to NBC and ABC, CBS This Morning offered two full reports on the VA scandal, totaling four minutes and twenty-one seconds. The broadcast managed to skip Malia Obama's upcoming driving lessons.

White House correspondent Major Garrett highlighted Democratic members of Congress being critical of the President and calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Neither Today nor GMA mentioned the bipartisan pressure from Capitol Hill.


Here are transcripts of Today's May 22 news briefs:

7:11 AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: A top White House aide is in Phoenix today to oversee the Veterans' Affairs investigation that has now expanded to 26 facilities.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: VA Hospital Scandal; President Obama Says Misconduct Will Be Punished]

Today, a House committee will consider giving the VA's inspector general $5 million to investigate whether employees cooked the books. The VA is under fire over allegations of excessive patient wait times and a cover-up at its hospitals. President Obama is promising punishment if the inspector general's report finds any wrongdoing.

8:04 AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: President Obama's deputy chief of staff is visiting a Veterans' Administration [sic] hospital in Phoenix today to investigate reports of deadly delays in treatment and falsified records.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Veterans Affairs Scandal; Top Obama Aide Visiting Hospital at Heart of Probe]

Twenty-five other VA hospitals are also being investigated. On Wednesday, President Obama declared that if the allegations prove true, those responsible will be punished.

Here is a transcript of GMA's report:

7:08 AM ET

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, to President Obama speaking out for the first time about the scandal at the Veterans' Affairs Department, the VA. The President promising to come down hard, if allegations of a cover-up over long delays to see doctors, if those allegations prove to be true. ABC's Jim Avila has the latest and joins us now from Washington. Good morning, Jim.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama Speaks Out On Vets Scandal; "People Will Be Held Accountable"]

JIM AVILA: Good morning, Robin. President Obama vowing to fix whatever is wrong at the VA. Today, sending out a new Mr. Fix-it out west, to ground zero. The White House sending top Obama aide, Rob Nabors, to Phoenix overnight, to tour the epicenter of the cooking-the-books scandal that has rocked the VA across the country.

BARACK OBAMA: Rob's review will be a comprehensive look at the Veterans' Health Administration's approach currently to access to care. I want to know what's working. I want to know what is not working. And I want specific recommendations on how VA can up their game.

AVILA: Nabors will meet today with the interim VA hospital chief and hear from local veterans groups. His report to be finished by mid-June. The President promising to crackdown on anyone who manipulated or falsified records to hide those long delays to see a doctor, often months, patient after patient has complained about.

OBAMA: I assure you, if there is misconduct, it will be punished.

AVILA: On the line with today's tour, an internal audit, a congressional investigation, and a separate probe by the inspector general, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's job. Which the President did not deny.

OBAMA: And if he thinks he's let our veterans down, then I'm sure that he is not going to be interested in continuing to serve.

AVILA: The President telling General Shinseki in the Oval Office that he will be held accountable. Robin.

ROBERTS: Alright, Jim, thank you.

Here is a transcript of the 7 a.m. ET hour report on This Morning:

7:07 AM ET

NORAH O'DONNELL: This morning, President Obama's hand picked investigator visits the Phoenix Veterans hospital. That's where at least 40 patients may have because of delayed medical care.

CHARLIE ROSE: CBS News poll out this morning; 33% of Americans blame the Veterans Affairs Department and Secretary Eric Shinseki for the scandal. 28% blame local VA hospitals. Major Garrett is at the White House where the President is defending the VA Secretary and promising to fix the VA health system. Good morning, Major.

MAJOR GARRETT: Good morning. Most veterans groups and some Democrats on Capitol Hill were dissatisfied with President Obama's continued support of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Despite the President's visible anger critics say the crisis within the VA health care system requires more focus and accountability. President Obama is sticking with the status quo, ignoring calls for firings or demotions within the Veterans Administration.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I know the people are angry and want swift reckoning. I sympathize with that. But we have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened. Once we know the facts, I assure you if there is misconduct, it will be punished.

GARRETT: Mr. Obama said it is unclear just how bad things are.

OBAMA: If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period.

GARRETT: Not enough for some Democrats.

REP DAVID SCOTT (D - GA): There was no urgency. Mr. President, we need urgency. We need you to roll up our sleeves and get into these hospitals.

GARRETT: Scott and fellow Congressmen John Barrow are two Democrats so far who have called for Shinseki's resignation. 24 Republicans have said the Veterans Secretary must go.

REP JOHN BARROW (D - GA): I think it was a mistake for the president not to ask him to resign. I think that would have sent the clearest signal the White House can send that there's been not enough accountability thus far at that level in our bureaucracy.

GARRETT: The President said nothing about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses paid to administrators accused of mismanagement or poor performance.

GARRETT: What about bonuses for those implicated in mismanagement, Mr. President?

OBAMA:  We're going to find out.

GARRETT: Does that upset you?

OBAMA: Listen. If somebody's mismanaged or engaged in a misconduct, not only do I not want them getting bonuses, I want them punished.

GARRETT: Hours after the President said that, the V.A. announced it was cancelling one bonus  worth nearly $9,000. It had been paid to Sharon Helman Director of the Phoenix VA healthcare facility where veterans may have died waiting for healthcare appointments. The president's Deputy Chief of Staff, Rob Nabors who is conducting his own investigation of all this, arrives at that facility this morning. Norah?

O'DONNELL: Great question, Major. Thank you.

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