CNN decided to not to break away from its almost non-stop coverage of the California wildfires as President Bush formally awarded a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan the Medal of Honor, as its competitors Fox News and MSNBC aired the ceremony at the White House live.
The Medal of Honor went to Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, New York, who died in the line of duty in 2005 during operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Murphy received the first Medal of Honor awarded from Operation Enduring Freedom. President Bush made the decision to give Lt. Murphy the nation’s highest military honor on October 11.
The ceremony started at 2:23 pm Eastern, and both of CNN’s rivals carried President Bush’s remarks, as well as the presentation of the medal to the deceased SEAL’s parents. It wasn’t until 2:43 pm Eastern, eight minutes after its rival networks concluded its live coverage of the award ceremony, that CNN aired a 3-minute long segment featuring some of President Bush’s remarks and a story by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr on the 2005 battle in which Lt. Murphy was killed.
Earlier this month, there were other prominent mainstream media omissions of this story. After the October 11 announcement of the award, every major New York newspaper published stories on the citation except the New York Times. It took until October 16 for any of the ‘Big Three’ network news broadcasts to recognize Lt. Murphy.