Barack and Michelle Obama are quite the diversionary tag-team. He blames everyone else for his problems. She takes credit for progress on his behalf that he doesn't deserve and distracts public attention from his avalanche of failures with endless feel-good photo-ops.
While the shirker in chief golfed and grubbed for money at closed-door celebrity fundraisers this week, his East Wing flak-catcher provided him cunning cover on the still-festering VA scandals.
After days of censoring any mention of the latest congressional hearings on the ongoing Veteran's Affairs scandal, Wednesday's NBC Today finally found time to report on the topic, providing two news briefs amounting to a paltry 27 seconds of airtime. 27 seconds out of a 4-hour broadcast. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
By contrast, the network morning show devoted a full 3-minute story to Yankee captain Derek Jeter playing his final MLB Allstar Game Tuesday night. That's over six times the amount of coverage given to the VA developments.
The veteran media watcher observed that the media's coverage of the scandal "evaporated" shortly after the May 30 resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. To watch the full segment, click play on the embed below the page break:
On Tuesday morning, NBC’s Today refused to cover the latest news in the Veterans Affairs scandal as the House Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Monday night from additional whistle-blowers who faced punishment from superiors for identifying allegedly manipulated response times for veterans who filed benefit and disability claims.
Coverage of the latest news saw only two minutes and 26 seconds of air time total with only 23 seconds of that from ABC’s Good Morning America. Meanwhile, CBS This Morning spent two minutes and three seconds on the story during the 7:00 a.m. hour. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
During the barely two minutes of coverage they allotted to a House hearing on VA scandal whistle-blowers, ABC, CBS, and NBC on Wednesday morning refused to report that the VA officials who tried to silence their colleagues for reporting wrongdoing within the agency received over $100,000 in bonuses in 2013.
Coverage of the House of Veterans Affairs Committee hearing from Tuesday night totaled 2 minutes and 24 seconds with only 44 seconds of that from NBC’s Today and a scant 26 seconds from ABC’s Good Morning America. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
The identity of President Obama's nominee to head the scandal-plagued, bloated mess known as the Department of Veterans Affairs was known on Sunday.
Very few news outlets (the Fox news item just linked is an exception) noted that Obama's pick was particularly odd because McDonald's run as CEO at Procter & Gamble was not considered a success. He was essentially forced into retirement after four years at the helm in May 2013.
Insisting that he's really been out of the domestic news loop, ABC News Supreme Court correspondent Terry Moran told Dan Joseph of NewsBusters sister site MRCTV.org this morning that he was in northern Iraq the past few weeks and wasn't really aware of his network's recent decisions to ignore stunning new developments in the IRS and VA scandals. What's more, he suggested, if folks really care about news regarding the IRS scandal, well, there are other places to go besides ABC.
"You know, the news judgment of every network and of every person is different," Moran offered. "I understand that for some people, that's a hugely crucial issue, and there are places that they can get that," he added. The former Nightline host then tried to establish distance from the network's story selection process before insisting he was out of pocket anyway because he was overseas. [watch the full exchange below the page break]
After Friday's World News on ABC ignored the White House report on the infamous problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Saturday's Good Morning America on ABC also ignored the scandal, while CBS This Morning Saturday and NBC's Today show -- both of which are two-hour programs - only ran short briefs, the one on CBS totaling 25 seconds and the one on NBC 19 seconds.
By contrast, the CBS Evening News on Friday led with the V.A. story and gave it a full report of more than two minutes. The NBC Nightly News, after initially giving the story 24 seconds on Friday, followed up Saturday evening and presented viewers a full report of almost two and a half minutes, making it the second story both evenings.
Friday's World News on ABC glossed over the release of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors's report on the scandal at the Veterans Administration. President Obama had sent Nabors to look into the long wait times at veterans hospitals nationwide. Instead, the evening newscast set aside almost two minutes of air time to a woman, who is eight months pregnant, competing in a track and field competition.
On CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley led the broadcast with the "bleak picture" detailed in the new report. Correspondent Wyatt Andrews spotlighted how Nabors "combined scathing criticism with ideas on moving the V.A. forward." Brian Williams used the same label as Andrews during his 24-second news brief about the story on NBC Nightly News: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
CBS Evening News was the only Big Three evening newscast on Wednesday to report that the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the V.A. scandal. Neither ABC's World News nor NBC Nightly News covered this latest development in the ongoing controversy. Instead, both programs devoted air time to the 20th anniversary of O.J. Simpson's slow-speed run from the police, after the murder of his wife and her friend.
Anchor Scott Pelley gave an 18-second news brief on the federal agency's new probe into the cover-up of long patient wait times at the Department of Veterans Affairs: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
In a Monday National Journal column about how many Democrats are allegedly saying they have "quit" on Obama — claims I find quite hollow, given that no one asserting this has yet had the guts to go on the record — Ron Fournier quotes "a senior White House official" with a head-shaking take on the Veterans Administration scandal.
Specifically, "Questioning why the Veterans Affairs Department hadn't been overhauled months ago as promised by Obama(actually that was seven years ago, plus six other times, Ron — Ed.), a senior White House official conceded privately to me, 'We don't do the small stuff well. And the small stuff is the important stuff.'" If the VA is "small," what in the world is big? And for that matter, what have these people done well, big or small? I suspect that the rest of the press, and Fournier himself, would be absolutely livid if they became aware of such an ignorant statement made by someone in a Republican or conservative administration.
Brian Williams glossed over the V.A. scandal during his interview of President Obama on Friday's NBC Nightly News. Williams did devote time to the ongoing controversy surrounding the release of senior Taliban leaders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl – specifically the White House failing to inform Congress 30 days before the Islamists were let go from Guantanamo Bay, as required by federal law.
However, the anchor didn't mention that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed that he was informed of the trade for Bergdahl on May 27, 2014 – a day before it actually happened. Williams also forwarded the President's own misleading claim about his grandfather's World War II service: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
While this week’s coverage of the Obama administration’s exchange of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban officials has been generally critical, the broadcast networks have helped Team Obama out on another front — since Monday, coverage of the Veterans Affairs waiting list scandal has been virtually nonexistent.
Despite the continuously unfolding developments on the scandal, the major news networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted barely two minutes this week to the story. Altogether, the morning and evening shows had a combined 46 hours of air time from Monday through Friday morning, yet offered up a mere 2 minutes and 16 seconds of coverage. Not a single VA story this week amounted to more than 30 seconds in length [MP3 audio here; video below].
On Tuesday's CNN Tonight, Don Lemon hounded conservative author Dr. Ben Carson over his October 2013 likening of ObamaCare to slavery and his recent blunt remarks about the V.A. scandal. Lemon acted as an apologist for the President and wondered, "How can you compare a health care program to the brutal oppression and abuse of black people in this country?"
The anchor later asked, "Are you saying the President and this administration don't have Americans' best interests at heart because they're trying to get people health coverage?" He also accused the neurosurgeon of needlessly injecting inflammatory language into politics: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
An item which appears to be overlooked in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal is the press's and presumably the public's blind acceptance of the department's goal to reduce its average wait times to 14 days as supposedly "aggressive."
My reaction is that the goal doesn't seem "aggressive" at all, or even borderline acceptable, based on both personal experience and some admittedly limited research I've done on best practices. It seems to me that the average consumer, and for that matter the average journalist, would have a hard time accepting the idea of an average 14-day wait time for a personal appointment involving real urgency. So why should the expectations of or for those who served our country be any lower?
When you’ve lost Chris Matthews, have you lost liberal America? The Hardball host stopped by for a visit on the May 30 edition of MSNBC’s NewsNation for an analysis of the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki and the VA scandal overall.
The former Tip O’Neill staffer didn’t hold back, repeatedly hitting Obama and Shinseki for a lack of alertness regarding the scandal. Matthews was aghast at the utter lack of awareness the president has shown–not just on the VA –but on his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. He even insinuated that a lack of cognizance was a part of the president’s habitual behavior, proclaiming [audio here; video below]:
On her Friday 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell joined fellow media liberals Stephen Colbert and Chris Matthews in labeling the VA scandal the first real scandal of the Obama administration: "...this is the biggest political problem that the President has faced. This is far more serious than a lot of so-called scandals that have popped up from time to time in the last couple of months." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
USA Today's Susan Page affirmed: "I totally agree with you, this is much more perilous for the President politically. Benghazi, they can dismiss that as a partisan battle. The Affordable Care Act, they can argue, 'This is actually going to work pretty well, just give us a little more time.'"
Imagine the press letting a Republican or conservative get away with trying to avoid uncondtionally calling something as infuriating and outrageous as the Veterans Administration waiting list scandal a real scandal.
“Now it’s the president’s call,” host Chris Matthews declared as he opened Wednesday evening’s episode of Hardball with new “bad, very bad” information surrounding the VA scandal from the inspector general’s interim report on the agency.
In a segment joined by fellow MSNBC host Chuck Todd and Derek Bennett of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Matthews posed several questions showing concern for the president “keeping his word” and doing something about the latest details of the scandal:
CBS journalists on Thursday morning investigated the latest details of the expanding Veterans Affairs scandal. Yet despite calling the newest revelation "ugly," correspondent Nancy Cordes somehow managed to avoid using Barack Obama's name or to discuss the White House. Instead, she focused on congressional culpability: "But the Inspector General's report points out Congress and the VA have known about similar manipulations and delays for nearly a decade." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Cordes talked to a GOP House member and pressed: "Florida Republican Jeff Miller is the chair of the House VA committee. If you've known about problems like this for years why are you only now calling on the V.A. Secretary to resign?" NBC skimped on discussing how much this issue could hurt the President personally. At the very end of a Nightly News discussion, Kelly O'Donnell briefly noted, "From the White House, NBC's Kristen Welker reports the President considers Secretary Shinseki to be on probation."
The Wall Street Journal published a fascinating op-ed yesterday by Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urological surgeon and medical school instructor who relayed "Doctors' War Stories From VA Hospitals." Scherz noted that, in his experience, "the best thing that a patient in the VA system could hope for was that the services he needed were unavailable" because then he would get outsourced "to doctors in the community, where their problems are promptly addressed."
What's more, Scherz noted, while the dedicated medical staff at VA hospitals try their darndest to cut through red tape to serve the patients, often personally attending to tasks not in their job description, doing so was punished, not rewarded by the bureaucrats who supervise them:
While the liberal media was preoccupied spinning Friday’s tragic UCSB shooting to promote their anti-gun agenda, Ed Schultz of MSNBC’s The Ed Show devoted some time on his May 27 program to berating world-renowned neurosurgeon and conservative author Dr. Ben Carson for using the VA scandal to promote his own “anti-Obamacare agenda.”
Schultz blasted Dr. Carson’s efforts to tie in the VA scandal to a larger critique of ObamaCare as cravenly “twisting a tragedy.” As icing on the cake, Schultz grossly took one line of Carson’s out of context to suggest that the doctor was disparaging American veterans and, worse, that he’d love to see more of them injured in future military conflicts. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]
Eight months before the 2006 midterm election, President Bush made a “surprise” visit to Afghanistan. On the March 1, 2006 edition of the Today show, hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer made sure to paint Bush’s visit as a publicity stunt due to his approval rating being at an “all-time low” and the controversy surrounding a bid by a United Arab Emirates-based company to run operations at various U.S. seaports. Couric touted it as an “important symbol.” Kelly O’Donnell cited the visit with all its baggage as a “difficult stretch for the president.”
At the time, the network insisted their viewers be absolutely clear about the president’s approval rating and scandals bedeviling his administration back at home. Not only that, Today's coverage included a guest who argued that it was simply impossible to “divorce how the war is going with the perception of how President Bush is doing as president.”
Comedian Jodi Miller took on the Obama administration's VA and Benghazi scandals in the May 27 edition of NewsBusted. "America just celebrated Memorial Day. Or, as it's called for veterans at VA hospitals: “Take a Number and Wait” Day," she quipped, adding, "The White House is under fire for long wait times at most VA hospitals. And the administration promised to get help quickly to all our veterans, just as soon as they get around to telling the whole truth on Benghazi."
To watch the full NewsBusted episode, click on the play button in the video embed below. To subscribe to NewsBusters on YouTube, visit NewsBusted's channel here. To get NewsBusted delivered to your email inbox, sign up here.
At the time when the country is remembering the ultimate sacrifice veterans have given this country ABC’s (World News) evening and (Good Morning America) morning shows didn’t devote a second to the VA scandal over this Memorial Day weekend. However, those shows did spend time on President Barack Obama receiving “cheers” during his surprise visit to Afghanistan.
While ABC didn’t offer a second on its newscasts (from Friday evening through Monday night) on the VA scandal CBS devoted a total of 8 minutes, 39 seconds on its (Evening News) evening and (CBS This Morning) morning shows during that same time period. NBC spent 3 minutes, 34 seconds on its (Nightly News) evening and (Today) morning shows over the long weekend.
However ABC did find a story it wanted to trumpet.
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
At the Weekly Standard this morning, Daniel Halper noted a CNN panel discussion wherein the network's John King and guest Maggie Haberman of the Politico discussed how furious many Democrats are with President Barack Obama's leadership, especially in connection with the Veterans administration scandal. The broadcast also reveals that the Beltway press corps has been aware of Democrats' misgivings about Obama's leadership for some time. We sure haven't heard much about it, have we?
This is noteworthy because the press eagerly broadcasts evidence of disagreements among Republicans and conservatives, and rarely does so when there is disunity on the left. The odds that we'll see much more of what aired this morning on CNN are therefore quite low. Video and a transcript follow the jump:
The Comedy Central host acknowledged the importance of the scandal while simultaneously mocking it a few days prior to Memorial Day on his May 22 Colbert Report. Complete with a balloon drop, Colbert’s over-the-top fake celebration of the “real” VA scandal sought to poke fun at conservatives for having fixated on”fake” scandals. You know, like the Obama IRS targeting conservative non-profits in an attempt to shut them down or seriously impair their fundraising, or the incompetent handling of diplomatic security in Libya in 2012 which left four Americans dead after a U.S. diplomatic post was overrun by heavily-armed terrorists on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. [Video below. Click here for MP3 audio]
CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose scored an exclusive interview with Chuck Hagel on Friday. But rather than grill the Secretary of Defense on the latest details of the Veterans Affairs scandal, the journalist repeated talking points and wondered about whether it was "premature" for a top Obama official to resign.
Rose began by noting that there is "quite a concern" over the growing controversy and that some "argue that we need to know the facts." Talking to Hagel, the host then wondered, "Some in your party are calling for the head of the Veterans Affairs department to resign, General Shinseki. Is it 'Premature' to ask for his resignation?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]