In January 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur, a former Justice Department official, to conduct an inquiry into President Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Despite the high-profile nature of the case, broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC have been thoroughly disinterested in the investigation, spending less than five minutes on the story since January.
MRC analysts looked at all coverage of Hur’s investigation spanning from February 1 through November 20, 2023 on the flagship morning and evening broadcast news shows. Throughout that nearly 10-month period, these networks spent just four minutes and 52 seconds on Hur’s inquiry.
CBS was by far the least interested in the story; they provided one single update on the October 10 CBS Evening News, in the form of a meager 24 second long news brief. NBC wasn’t much better, with just two news briefs — one on the August 12 Today and one on the evening of October 10, for a combined total of 64 seconds. ABC’s 204 seconds across three separate broadcasts, while by far the largest portion of network airtime, was still a paltry sum for an investigation into a sitting president which spanned nearly a year.
All three networks gave brief updates to the nascent inquiry when it first launched in January. But as the matter wore on, the coverage soon dried up. ABC’s Good Morning America aired a quick 52-second report on February 2, after which there was a broadcast blackout lasting several months. Between that report on ABC and an August 12 update lasting just 22 seconds on NBC’s Today, broadcast news viewers were never reminded that their President was the subject of a Special Counsel investigation.
The only development which was covered by all three networks was the revelation that Hur had interviewed President Biden over two days in early October. This resulted in two news briefs (CBS and NBC) and one full report (ABC) on the October 10 evening shows. The subsequent newscasts were devoid of any speculation about whom else might have been interviewed, or what sorts of questions Biden had had to answer. Instead, there was another protracted period of silence, which has lasted up until this piece’s publishing.
When Special Counsel Robert Muller was investigating then-President Trump, these networks enthusiastically covered every new detail they could learn about the inquiry. For two years, they gave that topic more airtime than any other Trump-related story on their evening newscasts. In 2018 alone, that investigation received 858 minutes of coverage.
But that excitement for presidential Special Counsel investigations dried up as soon as a Democrat made it into the Oval Office. Last week multiple outlets reported that Hur’s investigation allegedly would be wrapping up soon, with no charges being recommended. Despite this good news for President Biden, the broadcast networks did not even report on this development. If that reporting is to be believed, it’s likely the conclusion of Hur’s investigation will receive quick one-night mentions on all three networks, after which the broadcast networks will probably forget the matter entirely.