Between Monday's Nightly News and Tuesday's Today, NBC devoted ten minutes and forty-four seconds to coverage of the now six-day-old controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Meanwhile, poor ObamaCare enrollment numbers just released Monday afternoon garnered only forty-one seconds of air time on Today and were completely ignored on Nightly News.
On Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams touted investigations into Christie's "bridge traffic scandal" and hyped "an investigation into how some of the emergency relief money was spent after Hurricane Sandy." Williams announced: "It is quite clear that for Christie's political rivals it has now become something of an open season."
In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell explained: "The considerable political influence Governor Christie's used the last few years has always frustrated his critics, but he's more vulnerable now, so he's facing new questions and old complaints are getting a second look."
Those "old complaints" referred to 2013 tourism ads featuring Christie and his family that New Jersey Democrats have seized on to suggest more scandal. O'Donnell's report featured a sound bite from New Jersey Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone asserting: "I don't think there's any question that, you know, this was an effort to promote him. But the problem is, it was at the expense of money from the taxpayers that could have been used for other Sandy purposes."
Introducing another report by O'Donnell on Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer declared: "New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie set to give his State of the State address today while facing not one, but two investigations." O'Donnell proclaimed a "backdrop of scandal" for the upcoming address.
Following the report, Lauer discussed the issue with political director Chuck Todd and pointed to bad news for Christie: "51% of people in New Jersey, according to a new poll, don't think that Chris Christie has been completely honest about the George Washington Bridge situation." What Lauer failed to mention was that the Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll he cited also showed Christie having a 59% approval rating, with 52% of New Jersey residents believing he had nothing to do with the bridge closing. In fact, Politico's headline for the poll concluded: "Chris Christie opinion unscathed."
Amid all of the Christie coverage, Today included two identical news briefs – each about twenty seconds – on troubling ObamaCare enrollments numbers. News reader Natalie Morales reported:
Well, the Obama administration says 2.2 million Americans have now signed up for ObamaCare health insurance. However, fewer than one quarter are the young adults needed to make the system work financially. Younger, healthier people generally pay more into the system than they take out. Most of those who enrolled are middle-aged Americans whose premiums typically don't fully cover their medical expenses.
NBC has decided that a traffic jam from last September and innuendo from a Republican governor's political opponents are more important news than the unraveling of ObamaCare.