ABC Again Tip-Toes Away from East Palestine, Gives Half the Time CBS, NBC Have Spent

February 17th, 2023 4:38 PM

On Tuesday, NewsBusters released a study on the broadcast network coverage of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment that showed, since officials lifted an evacuation order on the evening of February 8 through the morning of February 14, ABC had ignored it on their flagship morning and evening newscasts while CBS and NBC had spent only one minute and 42 seconds on what’s become an ecological disaster with potential health concerns for residents.

In the next two news cycles (Tuesday night and Wednesday morning), the “big three” had chosen to stop abandoning residents in this working-class town along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border and have covered it in the three days since as residents and wildlife continue to suffer. So, we wanted to know: How are they doing?

MRC analysts combed through all coverage of the train derailment on the flagship morning and evening news shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC from the evening of February 14 (the first cycle after our study) through the morning of Friday, February 17. While they combined for 34 minutes even, the disparity was stark as ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) and World News Tonight combined for a scant six minutes and 33 seconds over six shows.

Worse yet, that includes the February 15 World News Tonight (which ignored the story) and Friday, February 17's GMA, which only gave the disaster 15 seconds while it was the leading story on both CBS and NBC. 

But what was most embarrassing for ABC was how CBS and NBC stepped up. On CBS, CBS Mornings and the CBS Evening News combined for 13 minutes and 28 seconds while NBC came out on top with 13 minutes and 59 seconds on Today and NBC Nightly News.

Since then, MRC Business’s Joseph Vazquez has also sifted through the coverage and found that they’ve all failed to mention rail operator Norfolk Southern’s ties to the far-left environmental, social, and governance (ESG) movement as its owners include “ESG-obsessed investment giants like The Vanguard Group, JPMorgan Investment Management and BlackRock Fund Advisors.”

Going back to ABC, perhaps they were taking the lead of The New York Times, which blamed conservatives (and appeared to target residents as well) for distrusting claims that the dump of toxic chemicals had been cleaned up.

In Friday’s 15-second whimper, co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos peddled the Biden regime’s talking points:

Also, officials are trying to reassure concerned residents of the Ohio community that it's safe to return home and drink the city’s water after that train derailment and days-long controlled burn of toxic chemicals. The head of the EPA was on site yesterday, urged residents to trust the government's testing of air and water.

If the air and water are safe, then why have the reports from ABC correspondent Alex Presha been one and sometimes two towns away?

And on CBS and NBC, they conveyed the seriousness of the situation into Friday. CBS Mornings co-host Tony Dokoupil led off the show by saying “we are going to begin with the news and it’s not good from Palestine, Ohio [sic], urgent pleas for help there after the toxic train derailment this month.”

“The EPA administrator, Michael Regan, met with residents of East Palestine yesterday, and they say they need more assistance. The head of Norfolk Southern, the rail line which operated the train, has acknowledged the company needs to, ‘make things right,’” he added.

Correspondent Roxana Saberi was also grim:

Norfolk Southern continues to pledge that it will pay for the cleanup, and federal and state officials say they're doing all they can to monitor air, water, and soil quality. But, for many residents, that's not enough. They are deeply concerned about their long-term health and for some the frustration is reaching a breaking point.

The open from NBC’s Today co-host Savannah Guthrie was also dire before a report from correspondent Ron Allen inside East Palestine:

Speaking of the weather, storms are adding to safety concerns in East Palestine Ohio. Rainfall today could wash toxic chemicals released during the massive train derailment into nearby waterways. That is the fear this morning. And two weeks after the accident, residents are voicing renewed outrage, calling on the train company and government to do more.

For his part, Allen noted that “there is a lot of mistrust here, a lot of residents wonder and worry whether their community will ever be safe.”

Oftentimes, NewsBusters will point out a contrast between networks with the Fox News Channel on cable conveying the seriousness of a story either downplayed or ignored on the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). In this case, take notice of how radically different two broadcast networks were in their framing compared to the third.

Instead of a full segment in the first half-hour, GMA spent two minutes and two seconds on the mass recall of self-driving Teslas, a car that’s only generally financially feasible for the wealthy.