Media Obsession With Akin Hits Overdrive: 96 Minutes in Just Three and a Half Days

The media obsession with a gaffe by Congressman Todd Akin continued on Wednesday and Thursday morning. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts and morning shows offered five additional segments, bringing the amount of coverage to a massive 96 minutes (and 45 segments) over three and a half days. The disparity between Akin and gaffe-prone Vice President Biden's "chains" controversy from last week is now five-to-one.

The massive amount of coverage is obviously favorable to the Democrats, a point Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos underlined: "Mitt Romney hoping to shake off those controversial comments from Congressman Todd Akin about abortion and rape. President Obama and his team doing everything they can to make it stick."

Reporter Jake Tapper helpfully parroted that the Democrats are "trying to turn [Akin] into Mitt Romney's second running mate."

He added, "The White House trying to link Paul Ryan to Akin because they both backed a bill that would have narrowed one of the few exceptions for federally funded abortions, from instances of rape to forcible rape."

On NBC's Nightly News, Wednesday, Andrea Mitchell insisted, "But because of Todd Akin, only days before their convention, Republicans remain trapped in a national debate about abortion and rape."

CBS This Morning, in contrast, only covered the story briefly, at the end of a Jan Crawford story on other topics. Wednesday's Evening News also featured nothing. Both the NBC Nightly News and ABC's World News featured full reports on the story and the GOP problems arising out of Akin's "legitimate rape" comments.

An analysis by the Media Research Center found that the Akin controversy, involving a local congressman, has received four times the coverage that last week's race-baiting scandal relating to the Democratic Vice President garnered. 

A transcript of the August 23 GMA segment, which aired at 7:10am EDT, follows:


7:10:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Race for the White House now. Your voice, your vote. And as we head into next week's Republican convention, Mitt Romney hoping to shake off those controversial comments from Congressman Todd Akin about abortion and rape. President Obama and his team doing everything they can to make it stick. ABC's Jake Tapper is at the White House with more on that. Good morning, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, George. Yeah, I'm not sure who would be less welcome at the Republican convention in Tampa. Akin or Hurricane Isaac. President Obama mentioning Akin on the stump last night. He may be a pariah among Republicans, Akin, but Democrats are trying to turn him into Mitt Romney's second running mate. In the sunshine state, the First Lady's comments seemed to take on new meaning.

MICHELLE OBAMA: This election, ladies, is a choice about supporting women and families in this country. Make sure that you tell people that your President believes that women should be able to make our own choices about our health care.

TAPPER: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have condemned Todd Akin's comments and called for him to drop out of the Missouri senate race. But the controversy has brought a renewed focus on social issues on the campaign trial. The White House trying to link Paul Ryan to Akin, because they both backed a bill that would have narrowed one of the few exceptions for federally funded abortions, from instances of rape to forcible rape. Though Ryan now bobs and weaves when asked about it.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: What is forcible rape as opposed to-

PAUL RYAN: Rape is rape. Rape is rape. Period. End of story.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: So, that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?

RYAN:  Rape is rape. And there's no splitting hairs over rape.

TAPPER: This is all part of why President Obama, who dodged the White House press corps for two months, suddenly showed up in the briefing room this week.

BARACK OBAMA: Let me first of all say, the views expressed were offensive.

TAPPER: But after a week of getting hammered on social issues, a new government report projecting the fourth-straight year of a $1 trillion deficit is now giving Mitt Romney the chance to pivot back to the President's record on the economy.

MITT ROMNEY: He said he'd cut the deficit in half. He doubled it. 23 million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work. It's inexcusable!

TAPPER: And that's Romney's plan to not take the bait on these social issues, to focus on the economy. Today in New Mexico, George, Mitt Romney will set a goal of north American energy independence by 2020, talking about energy jobs in the U.S. For their part, the Obama campaign have launched an ad with ex-President Clinton, extolling the virtues of the Obama economic plan. George?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org