CBS stood out as the only Big Three network to devote full coverage to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Tuesday night stay of the federal government's birth control/abortifacient mandate under ObamaCare. As of Thursday morning, CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News devoted three full reports and a news brief to the ruling against the controversial regulation.
By contrast, NBC's morning and evening newscasts have only aired one news brief on Sotomayor's decision, and mentioned it in passing in two other reports on the Affordable Care Act. ABC has yet to report on the development on either Good Morning America or World News.
Substitute anchor Terrell Brown gave a news brief minutes into Wednesday's CBS This Morning about the ruling from Sotomayor, mere hours after she handed it down:
TERRELL BROWN: President Obama's health care law takes effect this morning, but one part of the act is on hold. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor signed an order last night blocking a requirement for religion-affiliated organizations to include birth control in their health insurance. An organization of Catholic nuns in Denver argues the rule violates the group's religious rights. The government has until Friday morning to respond.
Just under an hour later, correspondent Susan McGinnis noted how the Supreme Court justice "blocked part of the President's health care law from starting today." McGinnis added that "Justice Sotomayor delayed the requirement that religious organizations offer birth control as part of their health insurance plans or face penalties. The request for the stay came from...the Little Sisters of the Poor home for the aged in Denver, which said it goes against their Catholic beliefs."
Later in her report, the CBS journalist underlined how "lawyers for the Little Sisters argued the change still requires the nuns to find an insurer who will provide contraceptive coverage, which they are opposed to." Brown then pointed out that "more than two million Americans will gain health insurance this morning, when the Affordable Care Act kicks in. That's how many people have enrolled in private health care plans under ObamaCare. The White House had hoped for 3.3 million enrollees by this time."
Correspondent Chip Reid also filed two reports on the stay against the birth control mandate on Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning. Both segments featured soundbites from Dan Blomberg of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Marsha Greenberger of the pro-abortion National Women's Law Center.
On Wednesday's Today, NBC's Peter Alexander devoted a 24-second news brief to Sotomayor's ruling:
PETER ALEXANDER: A Supreme Court justice has blocked the ObamaCare birth control mandate for some religious organizations. Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary exemption to some groups affiliated with the Catholic Church. The order prevents the government from forcing those employers to provide health insurance that covers contraception. The exemption was issued just hours before the mandate would have gone into effect.
Later in the day, during a full report on NBC Nightly News about ObamaCare going into full effect, correspondent Tom Costello mentioned the "Supreme Court injunction giving several Catholic groups a temporary exemption to parts of the new law that require employers to provide insurance coverage that includes contraception. While the administration has issued rules that it believes address religious concerns, several challenges are now working their way through the courts."
The following morning, on Thursday's Today, Costello trumpeted how "the biggest challenge is the Supreme Court injunction which gives certain Catholic charities and employers a temporary exemption to parts of the law that require employers to provide insurance coverage which includes contraception. Those groups oppose the – that requirement on religious and moral grounds."
ABC's Bianna Golodryga noted ObamaCare's first full day during a news brief on Wednesday's Good Morning America, but failed to mention Sotomayor's ruling:
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Today is the first day of health insurance coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration says more than 2.1 million people have selected a private insurance plan. But even the administration admits there will be problems, as people begin their new health plans.
[Update: the full transcript of Susan McGinnis's report from Wednesday's CBS This Morning, and Chip Reid's reports from Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning is available at MRC.org.]