Benghazi a Blip on Media's Radar - Less Than 2 Minutes of Coverage on ABC, CBS; NBC Punts

As the Big Three's evening newscasts ignored the latest in the controversy over the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya for seven straight days, their morning shows aren't doing much better. On Friday, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning together devoted less than two minutes of air time - 1 minute, 50 seconds - to the ambush that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American military veterans.

NBC's Today show mentioned the Libya attack only in passing, when Tom Brokaw noted it as one of a "series" of supposed October surprises in the presidential race, including "the President not showing up for the first debate, Benghazi", and Hurricane Sandy.

Anchor Norah O'Donnell's news brief on how the CIA was "fighting back this morning against charges that it did not respond to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya" actually came immediately after the 9 minutes of Hurricane Sandy coverage that led the CBS morning broadcast.

Six minutes later, O'Donnell raised the issue near the end of an interview of Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs:

 Screen Cap From 2 November 2012 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgNORAH O'DONNELL: There's new information out this morning about the consulate attack in Benghazi about the CIA's role - how long it took for them to respond there. There seems to be this dribbling out of information from this administration. Respond to the critics who say the President needs to do more on this, and that he is running out the clock until after Election Day.

ROBERT GIBBS: Norah, nobody wants to find out what happened more than the President and this administration. That's why he and the secretary of state have ordered a comprehensive investigation as to everything that happened that night in Benghazi, that – everything that led up to it, so that we can get answers. We're going to put people in harm's way doing the diplomatic business of this country. We need to ensure that when we do that, we do it with their safety utmost in mind, and that's what this investigation will show us. Obviously, it's clear - and I don't have any information other than what I read in – in the morning newspapers on this, but – that the CIA, you know, was pivotal in responding to militants that were attacking the consulate in Benghazi, despite reports earlier that they had not been.

Altogether, CBS This Morning devoted 1 minute, 28 seconds to the Benghazi story.

On ABC, news anchor Josh Elliott gave a 22-second news brief on the CIA development on Good Morning America:


JOSH ELLIOTT:  We're going to begin with new details about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. U.S. intelligence officials have now revealed a CIA security team responded to the consulate after the attack, taking fewer than 25 minutes to arrive. However, they were less than a mile away. Officials are denying media reports that the team was, in fact, ordered to hold off on responding.

This measly amount of coverage is just the latest in a continuing trend from the Big Three networks. On Friday, the MRC's Rich Noyes documented how ABC, CBS, and NBC first spun their coverage of the Benghazi terrorist attack, and then buried the story.

The transcript of Norah O'Donnell's news brief from Friday's CBS This Morning:

O'DONNELL: The CIA is fighting back this morning against charges that it did not respond to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Senior intelligence officials say that 25 minutes after the first call for help, CIA operatives were on their way to rescue the consulate staff. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the September assault.

Meanwhile, our Sharyl Attkisson reports on newly-revealed documents. They show a Libyan police officer was seen taking photos inside the consulate just hours before the attack.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center