Networks Ignore Waste and Theft at Amtrak, But CNN Reports It

After government audits showed Amtrak costing taxpayers millions of dollars due to waste and theft, CNN reported the story on Friday morning while ABC, CBS, and NBC were all silent.

"Waste management and employee theft at Amtrak, it appears to be off the rails," reported CNN's Zoraida Sambolin. "Pretty stunning report," added Early Start co-host John Berman. CNN mentioned the audits four times between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. EDT.

Sambolin reported that Amtrak loses up to $7 million per year from employee theft alone. "Amtrak has cost taxpayers $834 million over the last decade," she stated. ABC, CBS, and NBC failed to report the audits on their respective Thursday evening newscasts and Friday morning shows.

CNN failed to add that Amtrak has been prominently supported by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The Obama administration announced $1.3 billion in stimulus money for Amtrak in 2009, and in 2011 Biden announced a six-year, $53 billion plan for high-speed rail at a Philadelphia Amtrak station.

Biden, an advocate for Amtrak, has earned the nickname "Amtrak Joe" and even had a train station named after him in Delaware.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Early Start on August 3 at 6:36 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN: Waste management and employee theft at Amtrak, it appears to be off the rails. Listen to this, according to government auditors, Amtrak is losing over $80 million a year on its food and beverage service alone. And get this – Congress passed a law in 1981 requiring the railroad's food and beverage business to break even every year. It has never happened once.

And here's why. Amtrak charges passengers $2 for a soft drink. But it cost the railroad about $3.40 to serve each beverage, that is when you add the labor cost. A hamburger goes for $9.50, but it costs Amtrak $16 for each one that they sell. Throw in up to $7 million a year in employee theft and Amtrak has cost taxpayers $834 million over the last decade.

JOHN BERMAN: It's a pretty stunning report.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, that's incredible. Incredible numbers.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014