Is there a clause in George Stephanopoulos's contract stating that politics must be ignored if he's not there? On Tuesday, for the second straight day, the former Democratic operative turned journalist was absent from Good Morning America. Despite March 20th featuring a critical primary in the Republican race for the White House, a Stephanopoulos-less GMA allowed just 19 seconds on the topic. (Dancing With the Stars, by contrast, received six minutes.)
The hosts who did show up for work on Monday and Tuesday's GMA also skipped a new ABC poll finding that "Two-thirds of Americans say the U.S. Supreme Court should throw out either the individual mandate in the federal health care law or the law in its entirety."
On the network's website, Greg Holyk explained:
This ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans oppose the law overall by 52-41 percent. And 67 percent believe the high court should either ditch the law or at least the portion that requires nearly all Americans to have coverage.
No mention on GMA or the previous night's World News.
Usually, when Stephanopoulos is on the show, there will be full reports, plus interviews with candidates or analysts. On Monday, the program was similarly light. Fill in-host Dan Harris offered a quick segment recapping Sunday's Puerto Rico primary.
On Tuesday, the show's only mention of the presidential election came this way: In a news brief, Harris chided, "...While saying his campaign is focused on fundamental issues, Santorum said the unemployment rate does not matter to him. He later seemed to admit that that may have been a bit of a gaffe, saying once in a while, he needs a do-over."
A transcript of GMA's two political segments (out of a total four hours) from Monday and Tuesday, can be found below:
DAN HARRIS: Big day in the race for President. The latest polls show Mitt Romney enjoying a double-digit lead over Rick Santorum ahead of today's primary in Illinois. Monday, while saying his campaign is focused on fundamental issues, Santorum said the unemployment rate does not matter to him. He later seemed to admit that that may have been a bit of a gaffe, saying once in a while, he needs a do-over.
DAN HARRIS: We're going the start here with the race for president and a big win for Mr. Mitt Romney in Puerto Rico. The battleground everyone is watching is Illinois and that's coming up tomorrow. Let's get right over to ABCs John Berman with the latest on that. John, good morning to you.
JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, Dan. Well, you know, Mitt Romney can't lock up the nomination yet. But in the race to be the big Kahuna, he's the clear winner, because if it's an island with a beach, he wins it. First Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and now picking up Puerto Rico overnight. He won more than 80 percent of the vote there and all 20 delegates up for grabs. But, in terms of momentum and perception, it's tomorrow in Illinois that is the big catch. Romney wants to prove he can lock up this race before the convention and a big win in the heartland could do just that. Now, as for Rick Santorum, the two days he spent in Puerto Rico now seem mystifying, squandering time he could have been in Illinois where the race is close. Some polls show it within five points. It's tomorrow in the next key step in this race, Dan.