The ABC and NBC morning shows on Monday ignored or downplayed the role the President of the United States played in the unfolding spying scandal that broke last week. The journalists at Good Morning America never once uttered the name Barack Obama. The hosts of NBC's Today left it to their guest to question the implications for the President.
It was CBS This Morning that saw possible damage to Obama. Major Garrett warned, "The White House knows that this is an intelligence crisis that could become a political crisis." The reporter added that the administration "had to admit a politically and tactically startling truth: It conducts more surveillance than the Bush White House." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Co-host Charlie Rose brought on Congressman Eric Cantor and actually wondered, "Did the Obama administration go further than the Bush administration had gone in its surveillance?"
Despite opening the show by hyping, "Breaking overnight, the latest details on the spy agency whistle-blower responsible for one of the most astonishing leaks in American history," co-host George Stephanopoulos and the rest of the GMA journalists skipped mentioning the President.
Instead, Brian Ross insisted that former CIA contractor Edward Snowden chose to "expose secret U.S. programs that collect the phone records of Americans and monitor overseas internet e-mails." Notice that it's "U.S. programs" not Obama programs.
Today deserves credit for bringing on someone critical towards the administration, but the network reacted differently to the 2006 news that the National Security Agency had been collecting phone numbers of phone numbers of people who possibly had contact with overseas terrorists.
According to the show's hosts, George W. Bush was "snooping" into the lives of "ordinary Americans."
A partial transcript of the June 10 CBS This Morning coverage is below:
MAJOR GARRETT: The White House knows that this is an intelligence crisis that could become a political crisis. Now, in face of revelations about secret phone snooping and internet data mining, President Obama authorized the declassification of some information about both of the programs and he asked the director of National Intelligence to explain with some detail the underlying legal justification for the surveillance and some of the guidelines built around that. Now, many of these explanations have been defensive, asserting what the snooping and surveillance is not. That's designed to hold the political line in Congress so the White House can see how much of a political firestorm this is going to generate. But through this all, Charlie and Norah, the White House has had to admit a politically and tactically startling truth: It conducts more surveillance than the Bush White House. The Obama administration insists that it has built many more safe guards and checks and balances within that surveillance, but it would have preferred not to admit the surveillance and now it knows it's going to have to approve in the court of public opinion all the safe guards and checks and balances is built around that surveillance.
ROSE: Did the Obama administration go further than the Bush administration had gone in its surveillance?