Networks Nearly Mum on Hobby Lobby’s Religious Freedom Suit

Usually when President Obama’s opponents are handed a defeat, ABC, CBS and NBC are quick to crow about it. That’s why their silence on the Supreme Court’s Christmas ruling against retail chain Hobby Lobby is so curious.

Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, filed a suit against the Federal government earlier this year, arguing that ObamaCare’s so-called contraception mandate would “violate their faith by covering abortion-causing drugs or be exposed to severe penalties.” The Greens are evangelical Christians and wanted an injunction that would shield them from covering the abortifacients or paying monetary penalties while their case played out in the courts. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rebuffed the company’s injunction request, and on Dec. 26, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred.

NBC’s “Today” got a point for mentioning the ruling in a news brief. But it provided so little information as to be misleading. “Emergency contraceptives will remain part of the federal health care law,” NBC’s Natalie Morales said. “Supreme CourtJustice Sonia Sotomayor denied a request to block the morning-after pill and similar contraceptive pills from required employee health plans.” But Sotomayor’s ruling pertained only to Hobby Lobby’s request for a temporary injunction and did nothing to settle the larger legal and religious freedom questions.

At least NBC bothered to mention the ruling at all. ABC and CBS didn’t. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising, since they’ve never reported on Hobby Lobby’s suit in the first place.

It’s not just Hobby Lobby. Although more than 40 Catholic organizations filed an unprecedented religious freedom suit against the administration in May, the three networks managed only 47 words on it in a single mention. On the May 21 CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley noted, “A number of Roman Catholic diocesesand colleges sued the Obama administration today over the new health care reform law. They object to the provision that requires church-affiliated institutions to provide employees with free birth control. They say that this is a violation of their religious teachings.”

The broadcast networks have long been among ObamaCare’s loudest cheerleaders. Since repeated reports about legal challenges to ObamaCare may undercut it’s legitimacy in the public eye, and the mandate’s affront to religious liberty is hard even for some liberals to dismiss, ABC, CBS and NBC have found a simple way to deal with the suits: ignore them.

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture