ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday deemed the admission by the FBI that they have used drones inside America to be a "stunning revelation." Yet, news reader Josh Elliott somehow managed to ignore the fact that his own program already talked about this fact back in February. Elliott breathlessly related, "And another stunning revelation as lawmakers look at the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs."
He added, "For the first time, the FBI has acknowledged using drones to spy on Americans here on U.S. soil." However, on February 4, 2013, ABC reporter Gio Benitez covered the story of a young boy behind held hostage in Alabama. He explained, "This morning, drones like this are flying over the homemade underground bunker." If this wasn't clear enough, a graphic underlined, "Drones Now Flying Over Bunker." The FBI was heavily involved in this case. The news is hardly "stunning."
The other two morning shows acknowledged that all of this was largely known. On CBS This Morning, Jeff Glor noted, "Among the situations, a hostage rescue in Alabama in January. As a five-year-old boy was being held by an armed man inside in an underground bunker, the agents used a drone to get a continuous, live view from above."
On the Today show, Andrea Mitchell described FBI director Robert Mueller's testimony to senators on Wednesday as simply "confirming" what was already known. She informed viewers: "FBI hostage negotiators also used surveillance drones during a standoff with an Alabama man who had taken a boy hostage inside an underground bunker in February."
On Wednesday, ABC skipped the drone story. The CBS Evening News covered it accurately. NBC Nightly News did not bring it up.
The question is, why did ABC think this was "stunning?" If the GMA journalists truly did see the story as shocking and of critical importance, why did the program spend the first ten minutes on the death of actor James Gandolfini?
A transcript of the June 20 news brief is below:
ELLIOTT: And another stunning revelation as lawmakers look at the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs. For the first time, the FBI has acknowledged using drones to spy on Americans here on U.S. soil. But FBI Director Robert Mueller told senators that the unmanned aircraft is only used to monitor stationary subjects, saying they're used in, and I quote, "a very minimal way," end quote.