Masquerading as an attempt to save democracy, Tuesday saw the PR stunt from Texas Democrats further blow up in their faces as not only had the number of infected lawmakers grown to six, but their charade turned into a superspreader event with an infection in the Speaker’s office and cases inside the Biden White House. And yet, ABC’s World News Tonight felt the need to defend the Lone Star State lawmakers by omitting them in a segment about the other D.C. cases.
Sensationalist anchor David Muir teased that the newscast would cover “fully vaccinated staffers from the White House to Nancy Pelosi's office, testing positive,” but when it came to conducting basic journalism, Muir and White House correspondent Rachel Scott didn’t see a need for that.
Muir later added in the lead-in to Scott: “And one more note on the virus tonight. In Washington tonight, some fully vaccinated staffers from the White House to Speaker Pelosi's office have now tested positive.”
Instead of spend the whole segment on why the superspreader happened, Scott never gave an explanation for how a Pelosi aide and White House official contracted the virus (click “expand”):
SCOTT: Tonight, with the delta variant on the rise, President Biden imploring Americans not to let their guard down.
BIDEN: We have to stay vigilant, especially with the delta variant that's out there.
SCOTT: It comes as the White House acknowledges that a fully vaccinated staffer has tested positive for Covid-19, and that there have been other positive tests too. I asked just how many we're talking about. [TO JEN PSAKI] Would the administration ever provide the number of breakthrough cases that have happened within the administration thus far? Should we not expect to receive a number on that?
JEN PSAKI: I said I’d be happy to check on the status of that, sure.
SCOTT: On Capitol Hill, a fully vaccinated spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tested positive.
SCOTT: And despite those Covid positive cases, the White House is not making any changes to its protocol tonight. We know that some members that are in close contact with the President gets tested twice a week. The President himself gets tested every two weeks, and we have asked the White House, David, that same question tonight. But still no word on just how many fully vaccinated staffers have now tested positive for the virus, David.
MUIR: Alright. Very concerning.
Instead, she spent time decrying Republicans who haven’t gotten vaccinated, knocking Fox News, and touting the genuine, heartfelt plea from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to get vaccinated.
The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News also declined to give these cases a full story, but they at least did the bare minimum by mentioning Texas.
For CBS, anchor Norah O’Donnell reported that new cases among the vaccinated came after being in “contact with a group of Texas lawmakers who fled to Washington last week to make a political point.”
“A political point?” Well, that’s one way to put it. Better yet, think of the contrast between this coverage and how the Covid cases in the Trump administration were covered.
Back in the present, congressional correspondent Nikole Killion had the most extensive coverage of the outbreak (click “expand”):
KILLION: Tonight those Texas legislators who fled to Washington are trying to contain a Covid breakout among their own —
STATE REP. CHRIS TURNER (D-TX); We don't regret coming to D.C. at all.
KILLION: — as two new cases surfaced with an administration official and a staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both of whom reportedly met with the Texans and were fully vaccinated. The spread forced the White House to defend its own Covid protocols, adding the infected staffer was now working offstate and showing only mild symptoms and acknowledged other breakthrough infections.
JEN PSAKI: The White House medical unit conducted contact tracing interviews and determined no close contacts among white house principals or staff or the president.
KILLION: The senior spokesperson infected in Speaker Pelosi's office worked with the Texas delegation last week but had no contact with the speaker.
Even though it only gave the story 33 seconds (through the context of “breakthrough cases”), NBC Nightly News made the most of its time as national correspondent Miguel Almaguer had the most biting take as he pointed out the fact that Texas Democrats flew to D.C. by flaunting TSA rules on masking:
Now fearing a widespread fall surge, even vaccines are no guarantee against delta's serious threat. Today, we learned a fully vaccinated White House staffer and an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tested positive for the virus after meeting with fully inoculated Democratic Texas lawmakers, who flew maskless to Washington and suffered breakthrough infections. Tonight, an evolving threat as the unvaccinated face a future that looked more like our past.
The bias by omission of minimizing of Texas Democrats holding their own superspreader event in Washington D.C. was made possible thanks to the support of advertisers such as Consumer Cellular (on ABC), Crest (on CBS), and Verizon (on NBC). Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant transcripts from July 20, click here.