NBC's Today kept up its complete omission of the Fast and Furious gun-running controversy on Wednesday, even as a House committee prepared to vote later in the day on whether to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. CBS This Morning stood among the Big Three morning newscasts in devoting a full report to the issue. ABC's Good Morning America gave only a 20-second news brief on the controversy.
Overall, NBC has punted on the story since December 2010, when the scandal first emerged. NBC Nightly News had its own blackout on Fast and Furious until June 12, 2012, when correspondent Kelly O'Donnell finally mentioned "Congress's investigation of a failed operation that sent U.S. guns into Mexico" during a 30-second news brief. The issue hasn't been mentioned since on the evening newscast.
CBS This Morning anchor Erica Hill introduced correspondent Nancy Cordes's report by noting how "a House committee is due to vote today on finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder has refused the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's demand for documents from the controversial 'Fast and Furious' gun-running operation." Cordes highlighted during the segment that "Holder says there's no evidence of a cover-up; that he's already provided 7,600 pages worth of documents; that this is, essentially, a Republican fishing expedition."
On Good Morning America, news anchor Josh Elliott gave his sole news brief on Fast and Furious six minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:
JOSH ELLIOTT: Meanwhile here at home, Attorney General Eric Holder could be charged with contempt of Congress today. A House committee is demanding more documents about the government's Fast and Furious program, a failed sting operation that allowed weapons to get into the hands of Mexican gangs. Holder calls the committee's threat to hold him in contempt pure politics.
The ABC morning actually hasn't been much better than its NBC counterpart, as they've have only given one other news brief on the controversy over the past 18 months.
The full transcript of Nancy Cordes's report from Wednesday's CBS This Morning, which aired 15 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:
ERICA HILL: On Capitol Hill, a House committee is due to vote today on finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder has refused the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's demand for documents from the controversial 'Fast and Furious' gun-running operation, which was first exposed by CBS News. Committee chairman Darrell Issa says a last-minute meeting on Tuesday went nowhere.
[CBS News Graphic: "Holder On The Hot Seat: Attorney General May Face Contempt Vote"]
REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R), CALIFORNIA: It's, ultimately, the attorney general who is the custodian of the documents we wish to receive, and that's why the contempt cites him. We would hope that the President would ask his attorney general to be more cooperative.
CHARLIE ROSE: Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill this morning. Nancy, what is happening here?
NANCY CORDES: Well, Charlie, what's happening is the Republicans say that Holder is not giving them the documents they need to investigate whether the Department of Justice covered up its involvement in 'Fast and Furious', or tried to silence whistleblowers, after a U.S. Border agent, Brian Terry, was killed in Arizona, and two guns that had been walked as part of the program were found at the scene.
Attorney General Holder says there's no evidence of a cover-up; that he's already provided 7,600 pages worth of documents; that this is, essentially, a Republican fishing expedition. And so, he had an ultimatum of his own for Issa: I'll give you more documents if you agree to drop the subpoenas against me.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have to say, given the extraordinary nature of the offer that we made, and given the extraordinary way in which we have shared materials to date, that I think we are actually involved more in political gamesmanship, as opposed to trying to get the information they say they want.
CORDES: So unless someone blinks this morning, this contempt vote is going to go ahead in the committee. If it passes, then it would go to the House floor. If it passes in the House, it would come to the Senate. But the Senate, Charlie and Erica, is controlled by Democrats, so it's likely that the move would die there.
ROSE: Nancy Cordes, thank you so much.