NBC didn't bury the story after a commercial break like the other networks, but they did try to paint President Donald Trump’s nominee in a highly negative light, literally. “Gorsuch says he met Mr. Trump when interviewed for the job,” reported justice correspondent Pete Williams on NBC Nightly News. While he was saying that, a dreary black and white clip of Gorsuch shaking Trump’s hand played in slow motion. It looked as though it was a scene out of a TV murder documentary.
Capitol Hill was a hive of activity on Monday. The House Intelligence Committee conducted a hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers about the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee conducted the first in a series of hearings in the confirmation process of Judge Neil Gorsuch. Both were major events on the hill but the Comey hearing drew the overwhelming majority of the network news attention, leaving one anchor to say it was “overshadowing” Gorsuch.
Just hours before the Senate confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was set to begin, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning eagerly parroted Democratic talking points against President Trump’s judicial pick and promised an “intense grilling” for the federal judge as the “ugly” process got underway.
It appeared that two of the Big Three networks smelled blood in the water Thursday evening as both ABC and NBC lent their aid to Congressional Democrats in their push to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Many lawmakers on both sides have been calling for Jeff sessions to recuse himself when the news of these meetings broke,” hyped ABC anchor David Muir during World News Tonight, “But tonight, Democratic leaders are going even further saying he should step down.” All because Democrats accuse Sessions of lying to the Senate about meetings with the Russian Ambassador.
Of the three networks on Thursday, only CBS This Morning bothered to explain that there is nothing unusual about a president fighting with the judiciary. Reporter Jan Crawford highlighted the long history of Democrats, including Franklin Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama attacking judges. ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today skipped this point.
Minutes after Donald Trump selected Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, CBS on Tuesday labeled him a “predictable conservative” with “some controversial decisions.” NBC and ABC also deemed Gorsuch a “conservative.” In contrast, the networks in 2016 rushed to declare Barack Obama’s attempted replacement, Merrick Garland, a “moderate.” In the first 24 hours of that pick, ABC and NBC avoided the “liberal” label. CBS used the word just twice.
The Big Three networks' morning newscasts on Tuesday forwarded the same language about two of President Trump's possible Supreme Court picks. On CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford labeled Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman "solid conservatives." ABC's George Stephanopoulos used the same term on GMA, and played up that "either one of these finalists could be picked by any Republican president — both relatively young white men...solid conservatives." NBC's Peter Alexander also zeroed on in the race of the potential nominees on Today: "The President's decision narrowed down to two appeals court judges, both white men."
Network reporters have barely noticed the brass knuckles threat from Senate Democrats to filibuster whoever President Trump nominates for the Supreme Court, regardless of the nominee’s qualifications or ideology. But that’s not the approach they took when Republicans blocked President Obama, then a lame duck, from picking a Justice during his final months in office.
A major network journalist exposing the double standard that exists when it comes to talking about conservatives and abortion? A right-leaning judicial expert as the sole talking head? Both those things happened on CBS This Morning as reporter Jan Crawford discussed Donald Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominee. Crawford explained how Judge William Pryor might not be picked because he’s called Roe vs. Wade an “abomination.”
On Wednesday, NBC’s Today examined President Trump’s short list of possible Supreme Court nominees by focusing almost entirely on how Democrats would oppose any of the “all white men” being considered. In contrast, CBS This Morning covered the same topic but actually highlighted conservative concerns surrounding the appointment.
ABC and NBC on Monday night and Tuesday morning ignored what is being described as a “big setback” for ObamaCare, completely skipping the fact that insurance giant Aetna will reduce by two thirds its involvement in the President’s health care plan. This absence is despite a combined six hours of air time over the two days.
The US Supreme Court dealt a major blow to pro-life supporters Monday, by striking down a Texas law that required abortion clinics to have admitting privileges to a local hospital. But the liberal “big three” networks seemed to tout the ruling on their evening shows, some almost mocking. “Jubilation from the pro-choice side,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos cheerfully noted on World News Tonight, before switching to a sad voice, “But despair from anti-abortion forces.”