The Big Three networks largely yawned at Majority Leader Harry Reid's wild charge on the Senate floor on Thursday that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years. ABC, CBS, and NBC failed to mention it on the evening newscasts on Thursday. On Friday morning, CBS This Morning was the lone broadcast morning show to report on Reid's "explosive accusation," as correspondent Nancy Cordes put it.
By contrast, all three networks covered Rep. Joe Wilson's 2009 "you lie" shout at President Obama at the State of the Union within 24 hours and were unanimously scandalized at the "stunning moment" in the House chamber, as then-anchor Charles Gibson labeled it on ABC's World News. Both ABC and CBS trumpeted Wilson's outburst as the "shout heard 'round the world."
On Thursday evening, liberal anchor Anderson Cooper not only led his CNN program with a segment on Reid "doubling-down on unproven allegations about Mitt Romney and taxes," but also reproved Democratic pundit Paul Begala for trying to defend the Senate majority leader: "For any sitting member of Congress...to be making allegations – serious allegations about somebody without offering any evidence whatsoever - I think - seems to be a troubling precedent, and it surprises me that more people aren't upset about it."
During her report on the CBS morning show, Cordes didn't even lead with Reid's barb at Romney. Instead, she devoted the first half of the segment to the latest campaign stops of the two presidential candidates. She also spotlighted how a "non-partisan tax policy group panned Romney's tax plan" - without mentioning that one of the authors of the report (from the liberal Tax Policy Center) previously worked for the Obama administration.
The correspondent then spotlighted that "the Obama campaign is not letting up on Romney's refusal to release more than two years of his personal taxes," and ran a clip from the Democratic campaign's latest ad. She followed this by finally turning to the Nevada senator's anti-Romney rant:
CORDES: And Democratic leader Harry Reid made this explosive accusation about Romney right on the Senate floor.
REID: The word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for ten years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't.
CORDES: But he didn't provide any evidence for that claim, and Romney laughed it off in an interview with conservative host Sean Hannity.
ROMNEY (from interview on "The Sean Hannity Show"): Well, it's time for Harry to put up or shut up. Harry's going to have to describe who it is he spoke with, because, of course, that's totally and completely wrong.
CORDES (on-camera): And Romney's campaign advisers aren't laughing. They likened Reid's charge to a McCarthy-style witch hunt.
This was actually the second time in 10 minutes that CBS This Morning played the Reid soundbite. It first showed up during the program's regular "Eye Opener" montage just after the top of the program.