ABC Renews Push to Spread Sequester Fear: 'Airport Armageddon' to Strike America

The journalists at ABC News on Monday renewed their push to promote sequester fears. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos hyped, "Breaking this morning: Airport armageddon. Almost seven thousand flights could be delayed, today and every day, up to three hours." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The ABC morning show featured only liberal Democrat Chuck Schumer and no Republican voices.

Over on CBS This Morning, however, reporter Sharyl Attkisson explained the GOP position, featuring Republican Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania. The congressman described the automatic spending cuts that are causing furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration employees this way: "I believe [Obama is] instructing his agencies to – to do the things that inflict the most pain on the American people." ABC ignored that perspective.

Instead, news anchor Josh Elliott announced, "We're going to begin with major frustration for air travelers and its all beginning this morning with no end in sight."

Reporter Matt Gutman only quoted Senator Schumer's bland assertion: "We need Democrats and Republicans to meet in the middle and end the sequestration that causes problems."

GMA has been hyperventilating over sequester since before it even began. On March 1, 2013, Elliott warned, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free."

Then, on March 11, Stephanopoulos admitted that the plan to frighten Americans hadn't worked: "...The outside game at least in the short term wasn't working for the President. It was trying to raise all these alarms about the sequester but it didn't seem to be taking hold because people haven't felt it yet."

Apparently, with the help of ABC, that effort has begun anew.

Today's Natalie Morales on Monday only offered news briefs about the possible "major delays" facing travelers. Yet, NBC's Brian Williams hyped the story on Friday, warning, "Sequester in Washington is going to affect all Americans."

A transcript of the April 22 GMA segment is below:


7am ET tease

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Breaking this morning: Airport armageddon. Almost seven thousand flights could be delayed, today and every day, up to three hours. One in ten air traffic controllers are caught up in government furloughs.

7:10 ET

JOSH ELLIOTT: We're going to begin with major frustration for air travelers and its all beginning this morning with no end in sight. Flights are being delayed at major airports because the FAA is being forced to furlough thousands of air traffic controllers. ABC's Matt Gutman is tracking it all from Miami. Good morning, Matt.

MATT GUTMAN: Good morning, Josh. The delays are already piling up. New York area airports reporting delays of over an hour. LAX over three hours overnight. This is just the start. The FAA now warning that as many as 6700 flights could be delayed every single day. The sequestration, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts now in effect are forcing the FAA to furlough a tenth of its air traffic controllers. Fewer controllers juggling the same number of controllers in the air translates into delays. With about 5,000 planes in the air at a given time and fewer eyeballs in the tower, the FAA is slowing air traffic to ensure safety. Planes could both be prevented from landing and taking off. But those inevitable delays could cost travelers more than just their time.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Airlines may have to cut seats. That will drive up ticket prices because demand will still be high.

GUTMAN: All of it during the most expensive and busiest travel period of the year. The only antidote, says Senator Chuck Schumer?

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: We need Democrats and Republicans to meet in the middle and end the sequestration that causes problems.

GUTMAN: Analysts say there's not much you can protect yourself. But try to carry one of these. [Holds up smart phone.] Check your flight status often. It could save you some time spent here in the airport. Josh?

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