ABC, CBS, NBC Hype Romney Hidden Camera Tape, Bury Obama's 'Redistribution' Clip

“Game changer,” said NBC’s  Brian Williams. “Seismic,” proclaimed ABC’s Diane Sawyer. “Shaken up the race,” announced CBS’s Scott Pelley. Those were the reactions of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) evening news anchors to the hidden camera tape of Mitt Romney expressing a basic breakdown of voters who weren’t likely to vote for him. What was a simple analysis by Romney of 47 percent of the electorate was turned into a “political earthquake” that threatened to sink the GOP nominee’s chances.

Over three full days of coverage, on the Big Three evening and morning shows, liberal anchors and reporters devoted almost an hour and a half (1 hour, 28 minutes, 23 seconds) to the Romney tape that made up all or a portion of 42 total stories. In contrast, when tape emerged of Barack Obama stating he was in favor of “redistribution” of wealth, reporters barely broached the story, spending only six minutes, 28 seconds over eight stories.

In all the Big Three networks this week devoted about 88 minutes to the Romney tape compared to just six and a half minutes on the Obama clip -- a 13 to 1 ratio.

Even if you just compare coverage starting from the Tuesday night release of the Obama “redistribution” clip (6 minutes, 28 seconds) to the time spent on the Romney tape (1 hour, 6 minutes, 39 seconds) the ratio is still a stunning 10 to 1.

The media’s furor over the Romney tape began on Monday night, September 17, when NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased viewers about Romney comments that he promised will “raise eyebrows when heard.” By Tuesday morning the Big Three journalists were in full attack mode against Romney. ABC’s Amy Robach, on Good Morning America, exclaimed: “New bombshell rocking the Mitt Romney campaign.” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos wondered where Romney’s comments would “register on the Richter Scale?” Later that evening, on ABC’s World News, anchor Diane Sawyer joined her colleague in the tectonic imagery as she told viewers of the “political earthquake” that occurred on a “seismic day” for the campaign.

 


Over on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley, on Tuesday’s Evening News called it the “tape that has shaken up the race.” On Wednesday morning’s CBS This Morning Bob Schieffer declared of Romney’s comments: “I just can’t think of anything that he could have said that could have hurt his cause more” and “He’s got a lot of work to do to dig out of this hole.”

On NBC the Today show invited MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, on Tuesday’s show, to dump on Team Romney as he asserted: “This is one of the worst weeks for any presidential candidate in a general election that any of us can remember.” NBC’s Brian Williams buried Romney’s campaign as he opened Wednesday’s Nightly News with this announcement to viewers: “Good evening. These are tough days for the Romney campaign. Inside 50 days to go now until the election and they are dealing with something of a public relations disaster.” Williams went on to say even “members of his own party” were “desperately worried about the damage here.”



When the liberal media eventually got around to reporting on Obama’s “redistribution” tape it was portrayed as a last ditch effort by the Romney campaign to save itself with a dusty old clip. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, on Wednesday’s Nightly News, reported: “The Romney campaign fought back furiously today, trying to change the subject from Mitt Romney’s comments caught on tape to a 14-year-old remark by then State Senator Barack Obama.” CBS’s Jan Crawford, on Thursday’s This Morning, noted the Obama tape “made public Tuesday, as Romney was doing damage control over his own leaked video from a May fundraiser, when he said 47 percent of Americans, who don't pay income taxes, are victims.” ABC’s Jake Tapper, on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, alerted viewers that “Romney tried to pivot, reaching back 14 years to an audiotape of then-State Senator Obama,” but then reminded them: “But of course, those comments that Romney made, the 47 percent, are the news.”

The double-standard within just one week of the news cycle is staggering. A surreptitiously taken video of Mitt Romney published by leftist magazine Mother Jones outpaced coverage of an Obama tape at a public event by a 10 to 1 ratio. It has to be asked if the scenarios were reversed and it was a hidden camera video of Obama published by the conservative National Review would the liberal media have reacted as excitedly?

 

Thanks to news analysts Scott Whitlock, Kyle Drennen, Matthew Balan, Matthew Hadro and intern Ryan Robertson for their help on this report.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.