Good Morning America

By Matthew Balan | February 16, 2012 | 3:38 PM EST

When ABC, CBS, and NBC finally got around to covering -- after two weeks of silence -- the controversy over the Obama administration's mandate that religious institutions provide health insurance for abortifacients, sterilization, and birth control, the networks downplayed the religious freedom component to the story, casting it instead as a political dogfight between liberals and conservatives.

MRC analysts studied all 36 stories, interview segments and mentions of the HHS mandate story on the Big Three broadcast networks from January 30 through February 15. Out of the 91 talking heads who appeared as soundbites on their morning or evening programs (or a small number of guests on the morning shows), politicians far outnumbered Church officials, by a margin of 60 to 9.

By Scott Whitlock | February 15, 2012 | 12:19 PM EST

Although the networks have been all too eager to tout food police stories promoting healthy lunches, ABC and NBC on Tuesday ignored the case of a preschool girl having her controversial lunch, including potato chips and apple juice, being taken away.

The young child had her meal replaced with, of all things, chicken nuggets. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today often highlight amusing, weird stories in their broadcast. But only CBS This Morning found time, a mere 15 seconds. Erica Hill explained that the girl was "told to eat cafeteria chicken nuggets after a North Carolina state employee decided the lunch she brought to school was not nutritious."

By Kyle Drennen | February 13, 2012 | 1:45 PM EST

Despite the fact that the national debt has topped $15 trillion, the three network morning shows on Monday managed to only provide a total of 47 seconds to the Obama administration's newly released budget plan.

NBC's Today gave the most time to the news – a whole 26 seconds – but also completely glossed over criticism of the plan, with news anchor Natalie Morales declaring: "President Obama is sending a new budget to Congress today in a bid to reduce the deficit by some $4 trillion over the next decade. The spending blueprint outlines his plans to cut government spending and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans."

By Matthew Balan | February 9, 2012 | 4:14 PM EST

After almost three weeks, CBS finally brought on a member of the Catholic hierarchy on Thursday's CBS This Morning to discuss the Obama administration health care mandate that forces Catholic institutions, like hospitals and colleges, to violate their consciences and pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraception [audio clips available here; video clips below the jump]. On Good Morning America, ABC ignored the controversy for the second straight day.

It was also the second straight day that the CBS morning newscast brought on a Catholic cleric for his take about the prominent issue. By contrast, on Tuesday, NBC 's Today turned to their in-house radical feminist, Rachel Maddow, who blasted the completely warranted opposition to the new policy as a "pretty far-right perspective" and "an extension of anti-abortion politics."

 

By Matthew Balan | February 8, 2012 | 6:49 PM EST

After 19 days of controversy, CBS Evening News on Tuesday finally got around to covering the growing dispute between the Obama administration, who wants to impose a mandate for sterilizations and birth control on religious institutions, and the Catholic Church and its allies, who see it as a violation of religious liberty. All of the Big Three networks' evening newscasts on Tuesday covered the issue.

On Wednesday morning, CBS This Morning was actually the only network morning show that devoted a segment to the "hot-button issue," as anchor Gayle King labeled it. NBC's Today show gave a mere news brief on the "uproar" over the new federal policy, while ABC's Good Morning America ignored it.

By Geoffrey Dickens | February 8, 2012 | 9:45 AM EST

Deaths, guns, whistle-blowers and the highest law officer in the land stonewalling a congressional investigation are the juicy ingredients of a story network news reporters would love to cover – if a Republican were in office. However, when Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Thursday (February 2) before a House oversight committee investigating Operation Fast and Furious, the news was completely ignored by NBC and ABC (there was one full story on Friday’s CBS This Morning). The virtual blackout of Holder’s testimony continues an overall trend of ABC and NBC burying one of the Obama administration’s biggest scandals, despite continual coverage by their competitors at CBS, CNN and Fox News.

MRC analysts reviewed the Big Three network evening and morning news shows and found that while CBS aired 29 stories and 1 brief on Fast and Furious, ABC aired only one brief on the June 15, 2011 edition of Good Morning America. That was still better than what NBC did on their morning and evening news programs, as the gunwalking story has never been mentioned on either NBC Nightly News or the Today show. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer, in a report primarily about a Mexican mother accusing border patrol agents of killing her 17-year old son as he tried to scale a wall, did note that “In December, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with bandits.” However, Almaguer never tied the Terry killing back to the gunwalking scandal.

By Matthew Balan | February 7, 2012 | 1:37 PM EST

CBS This Morning on Tuesday led its broadcast with the Obama re-election campaign's decision on Monday night to reverse its opposition to super PAC fundraising. Charlie Rose teased the report by noting how "the White House...flip-flops on controversial super PAC donations." ABC's Jake Tapper used the same term on Good Morning America. NBC's Today show completely ignored this breaking development.

During his report on the CBS morning show, correspondent Bill Plante highlighted President Obama's "denunciation of that Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited fundraising" and played a clip from his 2010 State of the Union address where he ripped the Citizens United decision in the presence of several of the justices who handed it down [audio available here; video below the jump].

By Matthew Balan | February 6, 2012 | 5:45 PM EST

ABC, CBS, and NBC spotlighted the Komen foundation's about-face on funding Planned Parenthood on their Friday evening newscasts, and played up the apparent role of social media in getting the charity to reverse its earlier decision. On World News, ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the "dramatic day for people power," while on Nightly News, NBC's Lester Holt concluded, "score one for the power of social media."

The Big Three outlets also covered the 180 by the breast cancer organization on their Saturday morning shows. Altogether, the networks added seven more reports to the 13 from the first 60 hours or so of the controversy, bringing the total to 20 since February 1, versus only three on the face-off between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration since January 20 (the MRC documented and highlighted this imbalance in a report on Friday; ABC and NBC added mentions on their Sunday morning political shows).

By Scott Whitlock | February 6, 2012 | 12:42 PM EST

After pounding Mitt Romney on taxes and wealth for weeks, ABC on Monday touted a new poll finding that the Republican is "struggling on this key issue of taxes," according to co-host George Stephanopoulos. Reporter Jake Tapper trumpeted this result: "And the more that the American people hear about Mitt Romney, the more they don't like."

He added, "They heard about Romney paying only that 15 percent rate, which is all he's legally required to pay when it comes to investments and they don't like it." Stephanopoulos helpfully forecasted that the "White House is going to continue to drive that." Of course, it was ABC who drove this class warfare angle. On January 24th, Jon Karl sneered, "So, just how rich is Mitt Romney and is he paying his fair share of taxes?"

By Scott Whitlock | February 3, 2012 | 5:36 PM EST

The journalists at Good Morning America on Friday altered a quote from an ESPN reporter, turning a question about Tim Tebow into a declaration that the faith of the quarterback is why he's such an "astonishingly polarizing," "divisive figure."

On ESPN 2's First Take, Skip Bayless wondered, "Do you believe your faith is the biggest reason you're such an astonishingly polarizing figure, a divisive figure in the country? Everybody has a strong opinion, love him or hate him, on Tebow." During the Josh Elliott segment on GMA, Bayless's query became a proclamation: "Your faith is the biggest reason you're such an astonishingly polarizing figure, a divisive figure in the country." [MP3 audio here. See video below.]

By Scott Whitlock | February 3, 2012 | 11:37 AM EST

Good Morning America reporter Claire Shipman on Friday offered a one-sided, misleading segment on Susan G. Komen's "political" decision to defund Planned Parenthood. [Update: The Komen Foundation has backed down and restored funding, according to media reports.] Shipman inaccurately described a women who got a breast screening "through a Planned Parenthood screening." The organization doesn't do such procedures.

Yet, an ABC graphic misrepresented that Monique Benoit "received a mammogram through Planned Parenthood." Benoit is featured on Planned Parenthood's YouTube account. There, a more accurate explanation was given: The group "gave me a referral slip to somewhere for a mammogram." [See video below. See MP3 audio here.]

By Matthew Balan | February 2, 2012 | 6:05 PM EST

The Big Three networks continued their blackout on covering the controversy involving the Obama administration trying to force Catholic institutions to include coverage of abortifacients and contraception in their health plans without a co-pay. Instead, Diane Sawyer on Wednesday's ABC World News highlighted Pfizer's recall of birth control pills that could "raise the risk of accidental pregnancy."

The same evening, both CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News aired reports on Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation discontinuing its funding of abortion perpetrator Planned Parenthood, with NBC's Brian Williams hyping how "thousands of women...[may]  pay the biggest price" for the move.