The Seven Most Undercovered Obama Scandals

Donald Trump hasn’t even been sworn-in yet but the liberal media has obsessed almost over every Trump tweet and controversy. Conversely, Barack Obama’s administration has been full of scandals and gaffes but liberal reporters have insisted that his record is clean as a whistle. 

Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, after Obama’s January 10 farewell speech gushed: “He’s been scandal free, frankly, in the White House. We haven’t had that what for a while.” Time magazine’s Joe Klein, back in December declared there has been “absolutely no hint of scandal” during his eight years. And in 2013 reporters first took up this line when the GOP Congress began investigating the myriad of scandals from Obama’s first term. At that time ABC’s Jon Karl noted that this was “a White House that takes pride in being scandal-free.” NPR’s Steve Inskeep asserted “This administration has been described, I don’t even know how many times, as remarkably scandal-free,” and Time’s Rana Foroohar noted “the President has been very rightfully proud of the lack of scandal in his administration so far.”

 

 

 

These liberal reporters have the audacity to bless this administration as scandal free, because many of Obama’s controversies were either ignored or barely reported by the establishment media. 

The following is a look through the MRC’s archives at some of the worst scandals and gaffes made during the Obama administration and how they were underreported at the time: 

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IRS Targets the Tea Party 

After a partisan report in June 2013 absurdly suggested that progressive groups were just as likely to be scrutinized as conservative ones, ABC, CBS and NBC essentially abandoned their coverage of the IRS targeting scandal. After producing 136 stories on their morning and evening news show during the first seven weeks of the scandal, broadcast news coverage dried up, with just 14 more reports over the next 10 months, as the Big Three ignored numerous damning developments in the case.

During the seven weeks after news of the scandal broke (from May 10, 2013  through June 28, 2013), the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening newscasts churned out a respectable 136 stories about the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. After that, an MRC study shows, broadcast network coverage dried up. From June 29, 2013 through April 30, 2014 — a span of more than ten months —  those same programs aired just 14 stories that even mentioned the IRS scandal. And, most of those were brief or inconsequential references that shed no light on the activities of either the IRS or the Obama administration.


 

The media’s blackout of the IRS scandal continued through 2016 despite more and more developments being unearthed. On June 15, 2016 it was reported the IRS had finally released an almost complete list of organizations that the tax agency scrutinized in the Tea Party targeting scandal, but the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks ignored this stunning development. As of January 16, 2017 it has been over two years (803 days) since any network reported on the IRS scandal, when CBS This Morning made a mention of it on October 28, 2014. NBC last noted the targeting scandal 828 days ago and it’s been a whopping 974 days — since ABC last mentioned it on the May 8, 2014 Good Morning America.

 

Fast and Furious Scandal

In 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) launched “Operation Fast and Furious,” which permitted thousands of guns to be illegally sold in the hope of tracking the weapons as they made their way up the ranks of Mexican drug cartels. In December 2010, one of those weapons was used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

In a Republican administration, such incompetence and stonewalling would likely have been a major story. Yet ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News acted as if the scandal did not exist, never once mentioning it on their evening news programs in 2011. CBS Evening News ran a dozen full reports in 2011 exposing various elements of the scandal, thanks to then correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. 

NBC finally arrived on the story on June 12, 2012, 546 days after Brian Terry’s murder, and then only after the House of Representatives was about to approve a contempt charge against the Attorney General for failing to produce crucial documents. ABC’s World News took another eight days, until June 20, to acknowledge the scandal, dallying until President Obama himself stepped in to claim Executive Privilege on behalf of Holder. CBS, which in 2011 had distinguished itself as the lone broadcast network pursuing this story, also waited until the June 20 Evening News to file their first Fast and Furious story of 2012.

The House vote against Holder and the President’s use of Executive Privilege would ordinarily be the red flare that set the networks to digging deeper on a scandal, but not when it came to Obama’s Fast and Furious fiasco. Even with all of the unanswered questions and political drama, ABC’s World News barely touched the story — just one full report (June 20) and two brief mentions before Election Day of 2012. The CBS Evening News managed two full reports and two briefs during this same period, while the NBC Nightly News produced four reports and two briefs.

Those reports, plus a quick news brief that night on ABC’s World News, totaled just 4 minutes, 7 seconds. After that, the networks stayed silent about Fast and Furious for the rest of the campaign. Just as ABC and NBC acted as if the scandal did not exist in 2011, none of the three broadcast networks burdened the Obama re-election effort by digging through the dirt of one of its most mishandled programs.

 

VA Scandal Gets Less Coverage Than Local New Jersey Story

On May 22, 2014 the MRC’s Scott Whitlock reported that in nearly four and a half weeks, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have offered 110 minutes to Obama administration scandal involving secret lists designed to keep veterans from receiving proper medical treatment. Back in January 2014, it took those same network shows just four and a half days to churn that much coverage for Chris Christie's Bridgegate. 

When the VA story broke on April 23, 2014 with news as many as 40 veterans seeking treatment at one Phoenix facility died while on secret waiting lists, CBS provided the most coverage, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. NBC allowed 44 minutes and 53 seconds and ABC came in last with a scant 16 minutes and 44 seconds. None of the networks bothered covering the story until May 6, 2014 almost two weeks after it broke. (This is despite heavy investigative reporting by Fox News and CNN.)

In just four and half days, from January 7, 2014 through the January 12 morning programs, ABC, CBS and NBC deluged Americans with 112 minutes and 23 seconds of analysis into what Christie knew about an intentional traffic jam created on the George Washington bridge last fall.

 

Relying on “Stupidity of the American Voter” to Pass ObamaCare

Just imagine the reaction of the liberal media if a video had surfaced of a George W. Bush administration official admitting that “lack of transparency” was “a huge political advantage” in selling the Iraq war and that they relied on the “stupidity of the American voter” to launch an attack on Iraq? That video would be everywhere.

However, the clip of ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber using those exact phrases in talking about the passage of the Affordable Care Act wasn’t reported until six days after the video had surfaced, on the November 13, 2014 CBS This Morning. It took nine days for ABC and NBC to finally arrive on the Gruber story on the November 16 ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos and NBC’s Meet the Press. Most stunning however was NBC Nightly News’ treatment of the Gruber scandal. 

It took that program 32 days for then anchor Brian Williams to tease a 2-minute-and-12-second segment by remarking that “it is unlikely that most Americans have heard the name Jonathan Gruber until a few weeks ago, when a video emerged of him insulting their intelligence.” His statement can be viewed as rather ironic, considering the fact that the viewers of his own program were kept in the dark on the ObamaCare architect, depriving them knowledge of the story for over a month. 

 

ObamaCare Failures

Despite skyrocketing premiums, major insurance companies backing out, and one state exchange after another failing, through October 28, 2016, the evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS and NBC have only devoted 10 minutes and 21 seconds combined to ObamaCare failures. Until Bill Clinton called the Affordable Care Act “this crazy system” on October 3, ABC and NBC hadn’t covered any ObamaCare news in 2016 at all.

 

 

Going back to 2015 the news for ObamaCare was mostly negative, as well. In October, the Department of Health and Human Services reduced the estimated enrollment in ObamaCare to 10 million by the end of 2016, or less than half the original estimates made in 2013. Both customers and taxpayers suffered when nine ObamaCare state co-ops failed in 2015, including those in New York, Colorado, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

And in November, the biggest insurance company participating in ObamaCare, UnitedHealth, said it might have to withdraw from the program because of huge losses — $700 million — in the preceding year.

But the broadcast networks that seemed so excited when ObamaCare first became law seemed uninterested in following up on its actual performance. ABC, CBS and NBC spent just 34 minutes covering the gargantuan government health program last year, and the lion’s share of that coverage (24 minutes) was devoted to the Supreme Court case about whether the program’s tax subsidies could go to citizens of states that did not set up their own exchanges.

In that case, the Court ruled in the administration’s favor. “ObamaCare, 2; conservatives, zero,”  crowed ABC correspondent Terry Moran on June 25.

 

Solyndra Scandal

Running for president in 2008, Barack Obama pledged to “invest” taxpayer dollars to create five million so-called “green jobs” over a ten-year period. Once in office, Obama’s Department of Energy began shoveling out “stimulus” cash to companies involved in renewable energy, with $527 billion in loans guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers going to the California-based solar company Solyndra

Fast forward to August 31, 2011, when Solyndra declared bankruptcy and suspended all production, laying off 1,100 employees. Aside from the sheer negligence of losing more than $500 million in taxpayer money, it was also the case that Solyndra’s biggest investor, George Kaiser, bundled more than $50,000 in contributions for the President’s 2008 campaign, and visited the White House four times before the loan from the Department of Energy was finalized.

Despite the odor of both incompetence and corruption, the three broadcast evening newscasts had virtually no time for this embarrassing failure by Team Obama. In the six weeks after Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in 2011, the evening newscasts ran just eight stories (four full reports, plus brief mentions in four additional stories). 

Even that puny amount of coverage was too much for the networks in 2012, which saw not a single evening news story devoted exclusively to the case. The NBC Nightly News included three brief discussions of Solyndra in longer political reports, while on ABC’s World News investigative correspondent Brian Ross spent a whopping 29 seconds recounting the case of Obama 2008 mega-fundraiser Steven Spinner, who pushed the Energy Department loans in 2009. For its part, the CBS Evening News aired nothing about the story in 2012 (although other CBS News programs did include brief reports). 

Total evening news coverage in 2012: four brief mentions, totaling just 1 minute, 43 seconds.

  

Ransom for Hostages? 

The network evening and morning shows seem to have badly misplaced priorities. In August of 2016 ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 10 times more coverage to the Olympic swimmer “scandal” than they did the bombshell admission that the Obama administration linked the release of four American prisoners and a $400 million payment to Iran. 

 

 

From the evening of August 18, 2016 through August 19 morning programs, the networks pounced on the report that Olympian Ryan Lochte and three other swimmers may have fabricated some or all of an alleged robbery in Rio de Janeiro. This garnered a whopping 37 minutes and 31 seconds. In comparison, the cash payout to Iran, which looked suspiciously like ransom, only amounted to a scant 3 minutes and 46 seconds.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.