For the third day in a row, Wednesday, an absent George Stephanopoulos prompted ABC's Good Morning America to provide skimpy coverage of the GOP presidential race. While CBS This Morning devoted nine minutes, including an interview, on the Illinois primary, ABC allowed just two minutes and 21 seconds of coverage.
In GMA's only full report, Jake Tapper quoted Romney casting the race as law professor vs. conservative businessman (which typically leaves out describing Obama as liberal): "It's very clearly a very stark choice between Barack Obama, who [Romney is] casting as a law professor, versus a conservative businessman."
Despite twice calling Tuesday's results as a "big win" for Romney, ABC's Robin Roberts had no follow-up interview with a candidate or an analyst, as would be standard with Stephanopoulos hosting.
One has to wonder, does Stephanopoulos have a clause in his contract limiting political coverage on days that he's off?
NBC's Today offered a full report with Peter Alexander, an interview with David Gregory discussing the results and additional news briefs.
CBS This Morning devoted nine minutes and 35 seconds, including a Jan Crawford full report and an interview with Dick Durbin.
For more on how ABC has marginalized Robin Roberts since the arrival of George Stephanopoulos, see: With Liberal Stephanopoulos Taking the Day Off, ABC Shuts Robin Roberts Out of Politics.
A transcript of the March 21 segment can be found below:
JOSH ELLIOTT: Plus, Mitt Romney scores a big win in Illinois, putting him ever closer now to winning the GOP nomination. But, his rivals are said to not be deterred right now. Pretty soon, though, they might not have any choice.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Jake Tapper will be along to talk about that.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, to politics and mitt Romney's big win in the Illinois primary. After narrow victories in major states in recent weeks, Romney finally pulled off, as you can see there, a decisive victory. But his rivals are not dropping out. It's your voice, your vote and ABC's Jake Tapper is in Chicago with the latest. So, just tell us what this latest victory means for Romney, Jake.
ABC GRAPHIC: Romney Wins Illinois: Closing in on Nomination?
JAKE TAPPER: Well, it's one more decisive win in Romney's march towards the nomination. Here's the most important math for viewers to know. There are about 1,200 outstanding delegates. Of those, Mitt Romney needs to win about 45% in order to win the nomination. That is certainly achievable. His closest rival, Rick Santorum, needs to win about 70 percent. Very unlikely. So, you're going to start to hear a drumbeat from individuals, asking Santorum and others to drop out.
ROBERTS: And what we heard from Romney last night in his victory speech, we heard President Obama's name mentioned a time or two. What's his message right now?
TAPPER: It's very clearly a very stark choice between Barack Obama, who he's casting as a law professor, versus a conservative businessman. Romney spoke last night almost as if he had clinched the nomination last night. He's setting the stage for the choice, as he wants to present it to the voters.
ROBERTS: But coming up next, we have Louisiana. And we know Santorum did very well down south last week, winning in Mississippi and Alabama. But will he still feel the pressure to drop out?
TAPPER: He absolutely will. In fact, one of the big Tea Party groups is already talking about how they think Romney will be the nominee. You're going to hear a lot of people suggesting that Santorum drop out. He won't anytime soon. But at some point, there's going to be some confrontation with the math, Robin.
ROBERTS: Yes. It doesn't seem like he is. He's not talking like that at all, Rick Santorum. So, it continues. All right, Jake. Have a good day in Chicago