Bias Over Easy: Morning Shows Serve up Soft Boiled Questions for FDA Commissioner

August 23rd, 2010 2:00 PM

There’s nothing like a hearty dose of media bias to start the morning. 

FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg appeared on all three network morning shows for a combined 10 and a half minutes on August 23 to discuss the recent egg recall. All three shows gave Hamburg a platform to criticize the egg industry and call for increased regulatory power within the FDA.

“Are you in a situation where you’re limited in resources and manpower and funding so you can only react after something goes wrong,” Lauer asked on ‘Today.’ “So you can’t be proactive and prevent things from going wrong?”

Hamburg was too eager to hit Lauer’s softball.

“We need better abilities and authorities to put in place these preventative controls and hold companies accountable,” Hamburg told Lauer.

Lauer encouraged her and made his own recommendations for FDA expansion.

“Do you need double the resources and double the funding?” Lauer asked.

Hamburg was given equally large soapboxes on ‘The Early Show’ and ‘Good Morning America.’

“These rules put in place for the very first time very rigorous safety standards so we can hold companies accountable to important preventative measures,” Hamburg told Erica Hill on ‘The Early Show.’

‘Good Morning America’ host Robin Roberts was shocked at the lack of FDA power.

“Do you need more legal power?” Roberts asked. “I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out that you do not have authority to call for a recall without the approval of the industry.”

On all three shows, Hamburg touted legislation currently in the Senate that would expand the FDA’s power and increase the number of food safety inspections each year.

None of the network hosts challenged Hamburg on any of her answers and did not refute her calls for increased regulation. In another instance of the media not challenging government regulators, the hosts failed to mention the FDA received a $318.3 million spending boost from President Obama’s 2011 budget and instead patted the FDA on the back.

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