On Friday night, the network evening newscasts all led with daunting news of the coronavirus, but CBS's Norah O'Donnell rang the loudest alarm: “Tonight, the warning of a catastrophic and unsustainable situation with COVID-19. The U.S. hits nearly 45,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, the largest ever.” The chief health officer in Houston gave the "catastrophic and unsustainable" quote.
All three reported on the first coronavirus task force press briefing, and highlighted rough questions from the network reporters to Vice President Mike Pence about how the Trump-Pence campaign could lower itself to these dangerous rallies with "no masks." The very first question was ABC reporter Kyra Phillips:
KYRA PHILLIPS: All of the experts on the task force are stressing the importance of social distancing, and also the threat of crowds, yet your campaign has held two massive rallies, no social distancing, no masks...can you tell me why you continue to do this, why your campaign continues to hold these rallies?
That's not an accurate question, since some people wore masks, and the campaign handed out masks to attendees of the Tulsa rally.
Pence suggested the pandemic doesn't suspend people's right to peacefully assemble, which the networks treated as the wrong answer. But they didn't scold the Black Lives Matter protesters for their obvious lack of social distancing. There was no central office to scold. The Left gets to hold "leaderless" and "organic" protests that no one questions.
On the CBS Evening News, they played Paula Reid's question, the last in the briefing (as did ABC):
PAULA REID: On the campaign, though it really does sound like you're saying 'Do as we say, not as we do. You're telling people to listen to local officials. But in Tulsa, you defied local health officials to have an event, that even though you say it didn't result in a spike, dozens of Secret Service agents, dozens of campaign staffers are now quarantined after positive tests, and then in Arizona, one of the hardest hit states, you packed a church with young people who weren't wearing masks. So how can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem that Dr. Fauci laid out?"
Both ABC and CBS highlighted that Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted a photo of former Vice President Dick Cheney wearing a mask with the hashtag #RealMenWearMasks. "I think they call that throwing shade," Norah O'Donnell quipped. Cheney, who is 79, has had a heart transplant, so he is especially at risk.