Despite the devastating tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday, ABC's Good Morning America still found time to devote several segments to stunningly superficial topics, including getting Botox injections at age 20 and Matt Damon's gay love scenes with Michael Douglas in a new movie. Additionally, the network morning show offered yet another segment to the tabloid details of the Jodi Arias criminal trial.
In total, this amounted to ten and 34 seconds for stories of minor importance. In contrast, the latest details on the growing Internal Revenue Service scandal warranted a mere 52 seconds. News reader Josh Elliott briefly explained that senior White House officials are now admitting "that the top White House lawyer, Kathy Ruemmler, knew about the investigation into the agency's targeting of conservative groups last month." Administration officials claim they did not inform the President.
GMA featured two quick news briefs, one 24 seconds long and another at 28. Yet, Elliott still found time to find some good news for Obama: "And our new ABC News poll shows President Obama does not appear to be suffering any backlash over the IRS scandal."
GMA skipped any mention of the revelation that the Obama administration targeted two Fox News reporters and a producer.
Instead, the program devoted four minutes and seven seconds to the Arias case, two minutes and 20 seconds to Botox and four minutes and 20 seconds to Damon's role in the new Liberace biography.
On Tuesday the Washington Post revealed:
Senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, learned last month about a review by the Treasury Department’s inspector general into whether the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, but they did not inform President Obama, the White House said Monday.
The acknowledgement is the White House’s latest disclosure in a piecemeal, sometimes confusing release of details concerning the extent to which White House officials knew of the IG’s findings that IRS officials engaged in the "inappropriate" targeting of conservative non-profits for heightened scrutiny. Previously, the White House said counsel Kathryn Ruemmler did not learn about the final results of the investigation until the week of April 22nd, and had not disclosed that McDonough and other aides had also been told about the investigation. On Monday, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said a member of Ruemmler’s staff learned of the probe the week of April 16; Ruemmler learned of the investigation on April 24th; and after that point she informed the chief of staff and other aides about the probe’s findings.
The Post managed to cover the tornado, but also placed the latest IRS developments on page one of the print edition.
Obviously, what happened in Oklahoma is a tragedy that deserves major coverage. But considering the amount of time ABC devoted to irrelevant stories, the show's hosts could have given more time to a growing Obama scandal.
In April and May, GMA deluged its audience with 187 minutes of coverage for sensational criminal trials. At the same time, the network ignored (until May 13) the grisly trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
A transcript of the two May 21 GMA news briefs is below:
JOSH ELLIOTT: We're going to begin with the scandal at the IRS. The Obama administration now admits that the top White House lawyer, Kathy Ruemmler knew about the investigation into the agency's targeting of conservative groups last month and that she told the President's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, about it. But McDonough didn't tell President Obama because the investigation was still ongoing. Now hat time line could be challenged at a senate hearing later today.
ELLIOTT: In other news now, the two IRS officials who have resigned in the wake of the agency's targeting scandal have tough questions to answer today on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers want to know why Congress wasn't told that agents had been scrutinizing conservative groups even after top management at the IRS had been briefed about the practice. And our new ABC News poll shows President Obama does not appear to be suffering any backlash over the IRS scandal. His approval rating is a stable, if tepid, 51 percent, buoyed in part by the improving economy.