On Tuesday the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a lawsuit against the IRS for that agency’s “illegal stonewalling” of the RNC’s request of documents related to the targeting of conservative groups.
So far there hasn’t been one second of airtime on ABC, CBS, NBC’s Tuesday evening shows or Wednesday morning shows. The New York Times and Washington Post also have yet to devote even a sentence to RNC’s lawsuit in their print editions.
The federal tax filing deadline has arrived. Tax season, when H&R Block commercials are as inescapable as news how-to segments about filing taxes, is nearly over.
But there’s one big tax story the broadcast networks practically ignored this year: the Obamacare taxes that just took effect. The network evening news shows have aired 40 stories or news briefs that mentioned “Obamacare” or the “Affordable Care Act” between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 13, 2014. But 87.5 percent (35 of 40) of those ignored the taxes associated with the legislation by failing to mention any taxes or penalties related to Obamacare. (Video is available after the break)
At this point it might take a dead body to get the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks to give the IRS-Tea Party scandal any sort of real coverage. Huge developments in the last week – like IRS official Lois Lerner receiving a criminal referral from the House Ways and Means Committee and e-mails proving she fed tax information on a targeted group to the staff of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) – were completely censored by ABC and NBC news. Only a 90 second report on Thursday’s CBS This Morning kept last week’s revelations from being totally blacked out on the Big Three networks.
In the last seven days the following IRS scandal developments have emerged:
Hyping the latest alarmist global warming study on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Carl Quintanilla proclaimed: "A new U.N. report out today warns the world must act now to address climate change to avert disaster." In the report that followed, correspondent Anne Thompson fretted: "The report says time is running out to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Melting ice sheets that will raise sea levels and swamp coastlines. Stronger heat waves and droughts that could put the world's food supply at risk....The U.N. panel says the world must act now." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A soundbite was included of the report's lead author, Leon Clarke: "If we wait for more than about ten or fifteen years, we really make it extremely difficult for us to keep climate from changing substantially, and really, exposing ourselves to some substantial harms." Thompson followed: "To protect itself, the report says the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 70% by the year 2050 and be near zero by 2100."
On Friday's World News, ABC's David Kerley pressed I.R.S. Commissioner John Koskinen about taxpayers who are unable to "get an answer as to how much they're supposed to pay," due to long wait times on the agency' help line. However, Kerley didn't bother to ask Koskinen about the House Ways and Means Committee's Wednesday vote to refer former IRS official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for prosecution, over alleged targeting of Tea Party groups for auditing.
In fact, as of Friday, none of the Big Three evening newscasts have covered the House committee's criminal referral, nor the House Oversight Committee voting on Thursday to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. Instead, the ABC correspondent zeroed in on taxpayers' complaints about the IRS help line, as well as the commissioner's YouTube video warning about how to deal with the poor service there: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Thursday evening, both CBS and NBC hailed the arrival of comedian Stephen Colbert at CBS but failed to acknowledge his routine of posing as a mock-conservative host at Comedy Central.
Colbert's persona was a conservative TV host who was, in his own words, a "well-intentioned, poorly-informed, high-status idiot." His show was a mockery of a conservative host. Yet CBS and NBC glossed over the "conservative" bit, remaining neutral on the details and referring to his character as simply his "know-it-all alter ego."
The big issue for Obamacare has long been how many people would enroll. When the deadline finally hit, broadcast news networks parroted the administration’s claims and raised few concerns about heavily spun results.
Breaking from a long silence over Obamacare, ABC, CBS and NBC declared “victory” for the now “unrepealable” Affordable Care Act but ignored problems with enrollment numbers 90 percent of the time. In fact, a Rand Corporation survey found that 1.4 million previously uninsured people gained insurance and that didn’t even factor in who had actually paid for their plans.
On Wednesday April 9, the House Oversight Committee voted to send a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for former IRS official Lois Lerner. Despite the severity of this most recent revelations into the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party organizations, ABC and NBC continue to ignore the story.
After all three networks failed to cover the story on their nightly news broadcasts on Wednesday, only CBS This Morning bothered to mention the revelations on Thursday April 10. Co-host Norah O’Donnell described the events as such: “The House Oversight Committee today is expected to hold a retired IRS official in contempt of Congress. Republicans say Lois Lerner led an effort to investigate Tea Party organizations. She's refused to testify at two committee hearings claiming her Fifth Amendment rights.” [See video below.]
In a major new development in the IRS scandal, House Republicans voted on Wednesday to send a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for former IRS chief Lois Lerner. FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier devoted a full story to the vote by the committee chaired by Congressman Dave Camp, but none of the three broadcast network evening newscasts covered the vote.
The letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder stated that "findings" from the Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Republican Camp, "suggest that Lerner may have violated multiple criminal statutes." The letter went on to add that "the Committee asks that you pursue this evidence." The three networks ignored this letter, however, although CBS and ABC talked about Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations.
Tuesday's NBC Nightly News highlighted MSNBC host Al Sharpton's past as an FBI informant but glossed over serious controversies, ignoring his infamous role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot.
The overall tone of the report was positive. Correspondent Pete Williams lauded Sharpton: "as mainstream as a civil rights activist can be, a frequent visitor to the White House, a friend of Attorney General Eric Holder and nightly cable host on MSNBC." Anchor Brian Williams stated that "tonight, newly released documents are shedding new light on another role from Al Sharpton's past, that of FBI informant."
On Tuesday evening, the networks all dutifully touted President Obama's call for equal pay for women in the workplace. NBC and CBS ignored Obama's hypocrisy – the pay gap that exists among his own White House staff.
ABC's Diane Sawyer put a dramatic spin on the news, saying Obama called for "action" on the "explosive issue of equal pay for equal work." The World News did note the GOP response that women in the White House earn 88 percent of the men's salaries, but relegated that important fact to the very end of the report. Neither NBC nor CBS reported it.
There is a jobs crisis in the U.S. that is going virtually unnoticed by the broadcast networks. The unemployment rate for African Americans towers over the national average, upsetting conservatives and liberals.
In spite of bipartisan outrage, the three broadcast networks gave just 10 seconds combined to the black unemployment rate around the monthly jobs reports in the past year. Liberal Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of many frustrated people. He has complained that “the media [is] dismissing it as not important.”
Both CBS's Bob Schieffer and NBC's Brian Williams cried foul on Wednesday evening at the Supreme Court striking down the cap on overall political donations, showing sympathy for supporters of the law.
Schieffer lamented that "More and more, the very rich are taking control of our politics" and that "this ruling is just one more sign that we no longer have any campaign laws that really matter." Brian Williams actually quoted liberal Justice Stephen Breyer and asked what opponents of the decision could do. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
While ABC, NBC, and CBS all hyped President Obama slamming Republican opposition to ObamaCare during his Tuesday "victory lap" in the White House Rose Garden, the network coverage that evening and Wednesday morning did not include a single GOP sound bite on the topic. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday's ABC World News, White House correspondent Jon Karl proclaimed: "It looked like a victory celebration, and the beginning of a new campaign." A clip ran of Obama asserting: "The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay."
As the networks reported on President Obama's Tuesday "victory lap" over ObamaCare's new enrollment numbers, CBS played right into the administration's hands by highlighting the "peace of mind" of a young adult who signed up for health care.
In what could have passed for a White House commercial, CBS's Ben Tracy interviewed an uninsured 33 year-old who "felt like a ticking time bomb" before he signed up for ObamaCare at the deadline. He told CBS "now I have it, so it's – it's sort of a peace of mind thing for me." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The networks all hyped the new United Nations report on climate change on Monday evening, touting it as a dire call for action and an "urgent new warning."
NBC's Brian Williams gave by far the most dramatic take on the report, even starting the Nightly News with the story. "Good evening, the world has never been spoken to quite this way," he soberly began. [See video below.]
Hours before ObamaCare's enrollment deadline, the networks provided an overall positive take on the law and allowed the White House to defend its signature legislation, leaving no room for a Republican response.
CBS highlighted the last-minute rush to sign up on the exchanges but when it reported that the final enrollment numbers would fall short of the White House's original prediction, it turned to President Obama who downplayed the shortfall. At least NBC and ABC noted that questions still need answering, like how many enrollees actually paid their first premium.
Friday's CBS Evening News picked up where the Big Three morning shows left off earlier in the day and trumpeted how "visitors have been surging to [HealthCare.gov] – about one-and-half million a day." Scott Pelley did give a bit of slightly bad news during his 16-second news brief, noting that "today, the ObamaCare website was taken down for about 20 minutes, to fix a problem that affected log-ins." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
However, the CBS evening newscast, along with Friday's NBC Nightly News and ABC's World News, glossed over the latest Associated Press poll, which found record-high disapproval of the controversial law: "[S]upport for President Barack Obama's health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago...26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act." This omission continues a nearly three-month-long trend by the Big Three networks to paper over bad news about ObamaCare.
All three network evening newscasts on Thursday found time to cheer the JFK Library Foundation announcing former President George H. W. Bush would the 2014 recipient of its annual Profile in Courage award. So what specific accomplishment did the organization cite from the Republican's decades of public service? His decision to hike taxes in 1990 that cost him re-election and paved the way for Bill Clinton to become president. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Lester Holt proclaimed: "Bush had famously said, 'Read my lips. No new taxes.' His decision to break that promise not only took courage, as the award says, it also may have cost him re-election."
NBC was the only network to report on the Democratic mayor of Charlotte's arrest on Wednesday evening, but they left out his party affiliation.
Anchor Brian Williams reported that Mayor Patrick Cannon was "busted today by the FBI after a sting operation several years in the making" but ignored that he was a Democrat. This isn't the first time the networks have left out the Democratic party affiliation of a scandal-embroiled mayor.
While on Tuesday evening the networks hyped President Obama "talking tough" to Russia and "belittling" them, only ABC pressed him on whether he was wrong about Russia during the 2012 campaign.
ABC's White House correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the President, "In the light of recent developments, do you think Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America's biggest geopolitical foe?" The World News aired the clip, as well as Obama's response that Russia is only a "regional power."
Unquestionably, ObamaCare is the central political issue of 2014. As the midterm election campaign moves forward, liberal politicians will have to justify their support for a program that has cost millions of individuals their insurance; will raise premiums for most small businesses; imposes hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes; and will cost, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the equivalent of two million jobs over the next three years.
But so far this year, the three network evening newscasts have minimized, spun or ignored every negative development about ObamaCare, while at the same time touting staged pro-ObamaCare publicity stunts, such as the President’s appearance on a Web-based comedy show in March.
Monday's NBC Nightly News gave a nice shout-out to First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to China without mentioning the controversy that no press contingent was allowed to accompany her and her daughters.
Anchor Brian Williams warmly recapped the Obamas' trip abroad: "They have walked along a section of the Great Wall, they have visited the incredible Terra Cotta army at 6,000 strong. And the First Lady has jumped rope by local invitation."
With only a week to go before ObamaCare's sign-up deadline, the networks ignored the law entirely on Monday evening even though the latest estimate has the administration one million sign-ups short of its revised goal.
As NewsBusters reported, the networks skipped the story on Monday morning as well. That continues their trend of shelving bad news for ObamaCare, including the low enrollment numbers among young people and the administration's latest delay that let many keep their current insurance plans that the White House once called "shoddy."
First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to students at Peking University in China over the weekend and spoke of the need for China to limit its censorship of information and controlling access to the Internet.
Despite both ABC and NBC hyping Mrs. Obama’s “strong message” about the need for an open Internet in China, both networks skipped the irony of the White House not allowing American press to travel with the First Lady to China. Instead, ABC promoted how Obama decided to tackle “hot-button issues” as “she’s making headlines over what she said about the Internet.”
While the networks swooned over President Obama's mock interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis, only ABC noted Obama's appearance on Thursday's Ellen DeGeneres Show where he plugged ObamaCare.
And ABC focused only on the shallow, touting Obama's exchange with DeGeneres over her "selfie" at the Oscars. Interestingly, they left out the President plugging his health care law. Neither NBC nor CBS even mentioned the interview after all three networks touted Obama's interview with Galifianakis where he pushed for ObamaCare.
When lives are lost due to a faulty product the media point fingers all the way up to the top of the company. Just not when the government owns the company.
The broadcast networks have aired 42 reports on the GM safety recall of faulty ignitions; malfunctions that resulted in more than 300 deaths. But in the course of their reporting, ABC, CBS and NBC only once said something that could remind viewers that GM was, for a time, Government Motors. More than half of fatalities occurred during the period of federal ownership of GM.
Bill Plante acted as a stenographer for the Obama administration on Thursday's CBS This Morning, as he spotlighted the "multi-tiered state and national effort to get young people enrolled" in ObamaCare before the end of March. Plante touted the "supportive celebrity Tweets and videos....and a tongue-in-cheek tool kit that teaches parents how to get on social media and 'nag' their children 'mercilessly.'"
The correspondent again noted Zach Galifianikis' mock interview of President Obama, which the Big Three networks spent 100 times more coverage on than the low enrollment the previous week. However, CBS This Morning at least mentioned how the administration fell millions short of its original seven million goal. ABC nor NBC have yet to mention the new enrollment figures on their morning and evening newscasts. [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
This winter the networks have seized on all sorts of extreme weather, making it appear new, exciting or unusual. In the case of the California drought the broadcast networks have been hot and bothered claiming it is “historic.”
ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows hyped the California drought, describing it as unprecedented and the “worst drought on record.” But Dr. Martin Hoerling, a federal climate researcher, disagrees with that assessment. He said that the drought was consistent with previous California droughts.
On Tuesday, all three broadcast network evening newscasts devoted full reports to President Obama honoring 24 members of the military – only three still living – with the Medal of Honor. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley trumpeted how the President "righted a historic wrong. He presented the nation's highest military award to 24 Americans, after a review determined that they had been passed over because they were Hispanic or African-American or Jewish." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
However, during the fifth year of former President George W. Bush's presidency, the Big Three channels furiously covered the allegations against several U.S. Marines, who were accused of killing civilians in Iraq in November 2005. Between May 17 and June 7, 2006 – a three week period – ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted three and a half hours of air time to the accusations of misconduct. These same networks aired only 52 minutes of reporting on 20 military heroes from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during a five-year period between September 2001 and June 2006.