Government & Press

By Tom Johnson | April 24, 2015 | 3:02 PM EDT

For liberals, the great mystery of the last few decades is how Republicans usually have won enough votes to control one or both houses of Congress even as the party moves increasingly to the right. As political-science profs Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson put it in their 5,500-word article in the spring issue of The American Prospect, “In a 50-50 nation, Republicans have learned how to have their extremist cake and eat it too.”

Hacker (of Yale) and Pierson (of UC Berkeley) contend that there are two major reasons why the GOP has been able to “mak[e] American politics ever more dysfunctional while largely avoiding accountability for its actions.” One is that our system of government, with its “dispersal of authority,” makes it hard for voters to see which party is causing the trouble. The other is that our “often-feckless news media” have routinely failed to enlighten the public that “Republicans are primarily responsible for polarization and deadlock” and that GOPers have engineered “an ongoing massive shift of…the ‘center’ of American politics…toward the anti-government fringe.”

By Curtis Houck | April 21, 2015 | 9:38 PM EDT

After nearly a month-long blackout, NBC finally acknowledged on Tuesday night the sex parties scandal that’s enveloped the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) following the announcement that DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart will retire next month. While NBC Nightly News ended the network’s 26-day-long silence, it only devoted 18 seconds to Leonhart’s decision to step aside and only glossed over mentioned the reasoning for her departure. 

By Curtis Houck | April 15, 2015 | 2:51 AM EDT

Hours after President Obama moved to strike Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News cheered the decision by the President as “another historic step” and “another remnant of the Cold War” tumbling down. Interim anchor Lester Holt began with the announcement that “[w]e are witnessing tonight another historic step in thawing relations between the U.S. and Cuba” with “[t]he White House announcing that President Obama will remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.”

By Curtis Houck | April 14, 2015 | 9:06 PM EDT

On Tuesday night, ABC and NBC made no mention of a congressional hearing that took place earlier in the day addressing a scandal unveiled in a Department of Justice (DOJ) report that said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in Colombia had participated in sex parties over a multi-year period funded by American taxpayers and the very drug cartels they were fighting.

By Curtis Houck | April 9, 2015 | 11:09 PM EDT

On Thursday night, the top English and Spanish broadcast networks made no mention of the latest surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal as an Associated Press (AP) investigation found that the number of delays for veterans seeking care has not improved as the scandal approaches its first anniversary.

By Curtis Houck | April 8, 2015 | 11:46 PM EDT

On Wednesday night, the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC declined to cover the latest in the legal battle over President Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration as U.S. District Judge denied the Obama administration’s request for an injunction that would have allowed his plan to go forward. Announced late Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Hanen blasted the request and declared that the President’s decision to not enforce “laws requiring removal of illegal immigrants that conflict with the 2014 DHS directive” to enact amnesty only further cemented his ruling.

By Curtis Houck | April 8, 2015 | 9:00 PM EDT

Wednesday’s edition of the CBS Evening News chose to re-air portions of chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook’s interview with President Obama on climate change supposedly threatening public health and included LaPook fretting at the end to anchor Scott Pelley that “climate change legislation has stalled in Congress.” The network’s cheerleading of Obama’s newest environmental initiative began right at the top of the newscast as Pelley teased the segment to viewers: “The President speaks with us about how climate change is making people sick.”

By Curtis Houck | April 7, 2015 | 9:44 PM EDT

On the heels of a power outage that struck key government buildings in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas in the Maryland suburbs on Tuesday, NBC Nightly News seized on the story to advocate for the increased infrastructure funding and the need to defend against “cyber attacks.” Anchor Lester Holt told viewers that the incident has raised “questions about our nation’s power grids.” Chris Jansing warned: “Experts put the price tag anywhere from several billion to hundreds of billions of dollars to update a system so old, some of it is based on technology dating back to Thomas Edison.”

By Curtis Houck | April 6, 2015 | 9:49 PM EDT

During its coverage of the Iran framework on Monday, NBC Nightly News touted the hopes of proponents and the Obama administration that the “details of a deal may be changing” the minds of “some” critics as President Obama and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz began selling the agreement in press conferences, interviews, and calls with world leaders. Lester Holt began by promoting Obama’s recent interview with NPR in which he said forcing Iran to recognize Israel’s existence as part of a final nuclear deal (as Israel has insisted) would be a “fundamental misjudgement.”

By Curtis Houck | April 3, 2015 | 12:39 PM EDT

The favorable coverage of the agreed framework for future talks over Iran’s nuclear program continued on Friday morning as the network newscasts hailed the “legacy defining moment now within reach” for President Obama and compared Iranian “hardliners” to deal skeptics in the U.S. and Israel. Today co-host Savannah Guthrie began the program’s coverage by hailing the “landmark deal” with NBC's Peter Alexander fretting that “Republicans and the Israeli prime minister” are “clearly not on board” as “a legacy-defining moment” appeared “now within reach” for the President. 

By Curtis Houck | April 2, 2015 | 10:29 PM EDT

On Thursday night, ABC and NBC cheered the “historic” agreement of an outline for continued talks with Iran and declared that “the United States could be entering a new era in its relationship” with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reflected on the “18 months of tough negotiations” that “end[ed] with an all-nighter” with the possibility that “the United States could be entering a new era in its relationship with Iran and President Obama is telling critics this will make our world safer.”

By Curtis Houck | April 2, 2015 | 12:20 AM EDT

Following five straight days where the network evening newscasts slammed Indiana for passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Arkansas joined the barrage of criticism on Wednesday after Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson requested the legislature make changes to its own version. The CBS Evening News failed to mention how a small Indiana pizza parlor has been forced to at least temporarily shutter after receiving violent threats while NBC Nightly News only said that the shop closed after “so much criticism online.”