On Tuesday night, both the CBS and NBC evening newscasts did their best to play up Texas Governor Rick Perry’s appearance at an Austin courthouse following his indictment on corruption charges. The Texas Republican was indicted after vetoing funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit after its leader, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign following her DWI arrest.
The CBS and NBC’s evening news anchors highlighted Perry being photographed for his mugshot with NBC’s Brian Williams proclaiming that Perry was “fingerprinted, had his mugshot taken. A humiliating experience for a once and potentially future presidential candidate.” [See video below.]
What’s the difference between a political scandal involving a Republican and one involving a Democrat? When it comes to news coverage, reporters almost always identify the political party of a Republican caught in a scandal, but when the culprit is a Democrat, the party label is usually left out of the story.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but not many. To prove the point, here’s how ABC, CBS and NBC have identified (or failed to identify) the figures in 16 political scandals — 8 Democrats, 8 Republicans — as documented by NewsBusters during the past few years:
The journalists at the CBS Evening News on Wednesday investigated whether Rick Perry is "using" the immigration crisis to increase his profile for a 2016 White House bid. Talking to the mayor of Rio Grande City, Manuel Bojorquez said of the move to send Texas National Guard to the border: "A lot of people have criticized his decision by saying that it's pure politics, that he's looking to make a point on the national stage because he wants to run for president."
In a tease for the segment, anchor Scott Pelley insisted that Perry is "upping the political ante." The journalist wondered, "Is he using the crisis to raise campaign money?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Tuesday, August 12, Politico’s Byron Tau reported how the Obama White House is planning to “reverse a key part of its ban on registered lobbyists serving in government.”
Despite yet another major flip-flop from the Obama Administration regarding its relationship with lobbyists, none of the “big three” networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) covered the story on their Tuesday evening newscasts.
The Big Three networks steered clear of labeling the Islamist group ISIS "terrorists" on their evening newscasts on Friday. Instead, ABC's World News and CBS Evening News labeled the genocidal radicals "militants." NBC Nightly News used the more benign "rebels" in their coverage of the group's latest attacks on the Kurdish part of Iraq.
The closest that a journalist at ABC, CBS, or NBC got to using the "terrorist" label was Scott Pelley's teaser at the very top of CBS Evening News: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday night’s CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, CBS News correspondent Manuel Borjorquez reported along the U.S. and Mexico border in Texas where one county’s police force includes help from officers in neighboring counties as volunteers to assist in stopping smugglers of illegal immigrants. When it came to interviewing one of the volunteers in Brooks County, Texas, Borjorquez raised a number of concerns of why anyone would do so without compensation.
Borjorquez spoke with Reserve Deputy Gustavo Cabos, who told him that he and his fellow police officers are “all brothers” and that “[w]e're all out there to help each other out.” As Cabos was saying that, Borjorquez interjected to tell him: “But you're not getting paid for this. You don't even have health insurance in case you get hurt. You're taking a big risk.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
On Monday night, only the CBS Evening News covered what anchor Scott Pelley described as an "emerging genocide" in Iraq. In a 48-second news brief, Pelley reported: "The Islamic army known as ISIS has seized vast territory in Syria and Iraq....Now, have a look at what they're doing to the minority Shiite Muslims....In this video, Shiite men are herded together and executed in mass graves. Here, Shiite men are shot in the head one by one and dumped into a river." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Edited footage of men being executed ran on screen, in addition to clips of ISIS blowing up Shiite mosques. Pelley wrapped up the brief segment by noting: "The slaughter is spreading. The Iraqi government is battling ISIS with limited success." No mention was made of the Obama administration's handling of the growing crisis.
Both ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News failed to mention a new, troubling report from the Census Bureau on Thursday night that sales of new homes decreased by 8.1% in June and that May’s originally reported double-digit increase was revised lower, from almost 19% to only 8%.
The CBS Evening News did cover this story, but it only was in the form of a 12-second news brief from anchor Scott Pelley. Pelley grimly reported that: “Today's report on the housing market is raising concerns about the economic recovery. Sales of new homes dropped sharply last month, more than 8%, and that's the largest decline in nearly a year.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Monday's CBS Evening News was the only Big Three morning or evening newscast to cover the conviction of Azamat Tazhayakov, who was found guilty of obstructing the investigation into the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Jurors also convicted Tazhayakov of taking part in a "conspiracy with his off-campus roommate to hide incriminating evidence in the days immediately after the attack," as reported by the Boston Globe on Monday.
Anchor Scott Pelley gave a 19-second news brief to the conviction of the former student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Anthony Mason spotlighted the death of comic book character Archie Andrews on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, and pointed out that "it all ends...when an adult Archie takes a bullet aimed by a stalker at a gay friend." Mason turned to the comics' publisher, Jon Goldwater, and wondered if he was "trying to make a political statement with this comic book" [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump].
Goldwater denied that he was doing so, even though he underlined that "gun violence is too prevalent in this country, and we should do everything we can to prevent it." However, just hours earlier on NPR's Morning Edition, he hinted that he was indeed making a political statement:
Wednesday's CBS Evening News unsurprisingly spotlighted a recent study that asserted that turbulence will become more common due to climate change during a news brief about the injuries on an international flight that encountered such unsettled air. Anchor Scott Pelley played up how "one British study predicts that this kind of turbulence will increase significantly in the future because of climate change" [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump].
By contrast, Brian Williams used his brief on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News to remind his viewers of the safety recommendation flight attendants regularly cite in order to prevent such injuries:
On Monday night, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a highly contentious hearing featuring Allison Hickey, chief of the VA’s benefits division and VA whistleblower Kristen Ruell. Despite the new details in the VA scandal, NBC has yet to acknowledge the hearings’ existence on any of its morning or evening news broadcasts.
The evening of Tuesday, July 15 saw only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley cover the VA scandal, with both ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News ignoring the congressional hearing. During their Tuesday morning newscasts, ABC’s Good Morning America gave the VA hearing a mere 23 seconds whereas NBC’s Today continued the network's tradition of ignoring the testimony.
ABC and NBC continued their tradition of ignoring the latest controversy surrounding the Veterans Affairs department. On Monday morning, only CBS This Morning covered the news that the VA has problems paying veterans for service-related injuries with NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America ignoring the developments.
On the evening of July 14, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley covered the latest revelations while ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News were nowhere to be found.
On Wednesday, ABC and CBS's evening newscasts punted yet again on reporting Ray Nagin's Democratic affiliation, after the disgraced former New Orleans mayor was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for corruption. World News and CBS Evening News previously omitted Nagin's party ID when he was indicted in January 2013, and after a jury convicted him in February 2014.
ABC's Diane Sawyer hyped that the politician's sentencing was "a staggering fall from grace for the man who rose to national fame leading his city through Hurricane Katrina," but failed to mention that the Democrat was widely criticized for his handling of the disaster. By contrast, Brian Williams mentioned both his political affiliation and the post-Katrina criticism on NBC Nightly News: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Tuesday. That day, ABC's World News labeled the demonstration "one of the largest marches in Hong Kong's history" during an 18-second news brief, but failed to mention that the communist Chinese government was the target of the participants. The network's morning show, Good Morning America, has yet to devote any air time to the protest.
Seth Doane filed a two-minute report about the march on Wednesday's CBS Evening News. But like his peers at ABC, Doane omitted describing the "central government here in Beijing" as communist. Anchor Scott Pelley introduced the correspondent's report by noting the anniversary the protesters were marking: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Tuesday, July 1, all three network evening newscasts hyped a protest in Murrieta, California where residents objected to busloads of illegal immigrants being sent to their town to be processed by border patrol agents.
While all three networks covered the story, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley actually called the 140 passengers “illegal immigrants” with ABC and NBC choosing to call them “migrants” and “undocumented immigrants” respectively. [See video below.]
On Monday, June 30, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to labor unions seeking to obtain more control over public employees who do not want to join the union. Despite the setback for union bosses, NBC Nightly News was the only network evening news broadcast to cover the ruling on Monday evening.
In addition, President Obama nominated Robert McDonald to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs and fix the troubled agency yet ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer and the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley were nowhere to be found on this story either. [See video below.]
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]
Shortly after news broke on Wednesday that Diane Sawyer would step down as anchor of ABC's World News and be replaced by David Muir, Temple University journalism professor Karen Turner ranted to MediaBistro's TVNewser blog: "In this growing multicultural nation, it's unconscionable that as of September three white men will lead their respective networks."
On June 23 and 24, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held multiple hearings surrounding the revelations that the hard drive of former IRS executive Lois Lerner had been destroyed containing thousands of emails pertinent to the investigation of their targeting of conservative groups.
Despite the new details and the subsequent congressional hearings, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley has been the only network evening news program to cover the revelations, with ABC and NBC ignoring the story altogether. [See video below.]
On Monday, June 23, the Supreme Court ruled that while the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to mandate emissions controls on power-plants, it went too far in claiming the power to regulate smaller emitters.
Despite the major ruling, none of the network evening newscasts, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and NBC Nightly News, covered the EPA ruling. [See video of Fox News coverage of the EPA ruling.]
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 early May, CBS's morning and evening newscasts spotlighted congressional Democrats' vehement opposition to the formation of a select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012 Islamist attacks on the U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya during 10 minutes and 14 seconds of reporting.
However, when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named five Democrats to the committee on Wednesday, the CBS news programs minimized their coverage of the development. Wednesday's CBS Evening Newsset aside 23 seconds to the story, while Norah O'Donnell gave a 14-second news brief on Thursday's CBS This Morning about the story: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Wednesday's World News on ABC minimized any sense of the Obama administration's responsibility in the ongoing V.A. scandal, and spent the least amount of air time on the issue among the Big Three networks' evening newscasts. The program actually aired segments on pickpocketing and custom mobile homes than lasted about a half a minute longer each than their report on the scandal.
Diane Sawyer spotlighted how the President "weighed in – talking tough and talking action" on the "growing outrage over veterans hospitals." Jim Avila noted how multiple V.A. medical facilities in several states are now being investigated, and let the relative of deceased veteran decry the President's handling of the scandal. However, he didn't mention that the wait lists have been around for years – something that CBS Evening News mentioned in its coverage of the controversy: [MP3 audio from the ABC report available here; video below the jump]
Documents obtained by the Washington Times revealed that the Bush Administration warned the Obama Administration about problems within the Veterans Administration as early as 2008, yet both the ABC and NBC evening news broadcasts ignored the story on Monday, May 19.
Of the big three networks, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley covered the new revelations in the VA scandal. CBS News host Scott Pelley noted that “The Bush White House was so concerned about this back in 2008 that it warned the incoming Obama Administration.” [See video below.]
On Monday, May 13, all three network evening newscasts hyped the dire consequences of a new NASA study which show that “large parts of the western Antarctica ice sheet appears to have collapsed.”
ABC, CBS, and NBC hyperventilated over the report, and warned of rising sea levels in the immediate future. CBS News’ Elaine Quijano warned “A 10-foot rise in sea level would submerge tunnels and subways here in Manhattan and parts of Queens and Brooklyn. But, Scott, it would also put the entire city of Miami Beach and much of South Florida underwater.” [See video below.]
On Friday, CBS Evening News caught up with its Big Three competitors and reported on the latest developments on the controversy surrounding the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya. CBS also finally mentioned its own president's family connection to a White House official involved in the Obama administration's handling of the immediate aftermath of the attack.
Nancy Cordes gave a full report on how the "the White House released previously unseen e-mails" about the federal government's response to the terrorist strike, which led to House Speaker John Boehner forming a new select committee to investigate the attack. Scott Pelley also disclosed that "Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor mentioned in Nancy's story, is the brother of CBS News President David Rhodes." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Tuesday April 29, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-2 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate air pollution from power plants that cross state lines yet NBC and ABC failed to cover the story.
Despite the unprecedented ruling by the court, only CBS bothered to cover it, with Scott Pelley giving it a mere 22 seconds on the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night. Unlike the EPA ruling, all three networks provided extensive coverage of last week’s Supreme Court ruling that voters could decide whether or not they want to limit the use affirmative action in their respective state. [See video of Fox News’ coverage of the ruling below.]
Friday's CBS Evening News was the lone Big Three evening newscast to spotlight how the State of Oregon decision to scrap its multimillion dollar health exchange website, and join the federal government's HealthCare.gov. ABC's World News was too busy covering violence over spots at mall parking lots to notice, while NBC Nightly News zeroed in on baby Prince George's first trip to Australia.
Scott Pelley underlined how "the State of Oregon said that after months of trying, it cannot get its state health insurance website to work. It hasn't signed a single customer, and it is pulling the plug. It is the first state to do that." Nancy Cordes pointed out the "$248 million failure," but didn't mention President Obama by name or ObamaCare as a term during her report. She merely made a vague references to the "federal" role in providing relief to the debacle: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Tuesday's World News on ABC stood out as the only Big Three network evening newscast to cover a new "watchdog report" that found that the IRS "handed out more than $1 million in bonuses to employees who were delinquent on their federal taxes." Jeff Zeleny also pointed out how "more than 1,000 IRS workers, who didn't pay their taxes, received not only cash bonuses, but extra time off." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
By contrast, NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News on Tuesday both devoted air time to the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. NBC's Brian Williams also gave a 28-second news brief on Prince William and Princess Kate's visit to Ayers Rock in Australia, where they posed at the same spot as the prince's parents during the 1980s: