In the last month, ABC's morning and evening news shows allowed a scant four minutes and 51 seconds of coverage for the immigration bill working its way through Congress, this despite describing the legislation as "landmark" and a "blockbuster." In contrast, the same network devoted 16 minutes and 51 seconds, over three times as much, to examining every tabloid detail of actress Amanda Bynes's arrest and subsequent feuds with other celebrities.
Since May 24, Good Morning America, World News and Nightline have largely ignored important questions about the proposed immigration bill. Will it actually secure the border? Should Americans trust the promises in the bill? Most of the stories on the network were brief and hyped the legislation as historic. On June 21, Bianna Golodryga quickly mentioned the "last minute negotiations on a blockbuster immigration reform deal." She told viewers that the number of border agents would be doubled, but only spent 16 seconds on the entire story.
On June 12, GMA news reader Josh Elliott promoted, "We begin with that landmark immigration bill clearing a key hurdle on Capitol Hill." On the June 11 World News, Jim Avila introduced viewers to a businessman from India who was forced to leave America because he could not get citizenship.
Avila optimistically summarized the contents of the immigration bill as "pumped up boarder security, the strictest in U.S. history, a historic reform to immigration laws that proponents say will boost the American economy with new brains and new businesses, now operating overseas."
These three programs, with one exception, skipped over the possible downside to passing such legislation. Only House Speaker John Boehner, who appeared on the June 11 GMA, expressed skepticism. Boehner worried, "I have got real concerns about the Senate bill, especially in the area of border security and internal enforcement of this system. I'm concerned that it doesn't go far enough."
It's not as though there aren't conservatives with concerns. Republican Jeff Sessions warned that the Senate is about to vote on an immigration bill "no one has read."
According to the Washington Examiner, illegal immigrants who commit crimes will actually face lesser punishment than U.S. citizens:
The Gang of Eight’s bill would allow illegal immigrants who entered the country before Dec. 31, 2011, and committed up to three misdemeanor offenses including but not limited to assault, battery, identity or document fraud, tax evasion, to remain eligible for Registered Provisional Status. Meanwhile, U.S. citizens and persons who entered the country legally could incur up to $100,000 in fines,15 years of imprisonment, or be prohibited to reenter the country for up to 10 years.
Yet, ABC spent almost 17 minutes on Bynes and her arrest for pot smoking. On June 15, GMA devoted a full report to the Twitter feud between Bynes and Miley Cyrus. On May 28, the program hyperbolically touted the celebrity's "online rampage" against fellow star Rihanna.
On May 27, reporter Diana Perez offered up another Bynes segment, ending her report by excitedly telling America that ABC reporters "left notes at her apartment" to try and get a comment from the troubled actress.
These stories, apparently, are more important to ABC News than the contents of a "blockbuster" immigration bill. Could it be that these journalists aren't interested in riling up conservatives against the legislation?
This is the network that took 56 days to cover the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. In the same time, ABC devoted 187 minutes to tabloid criminal cases such as Amanda Knox and Jodi Arias.