On Monday, the network evening news broadcasts ignored a report Vanity Fair published alleging the Biden Administration rejected a "10-page plan" from numerous public health institutions to help purchase and distribute Covid tests back in October. "It also recommended, right on the first page, a nationwide 'Testing Surge to Prevent Holiday COVID Surge,'" the magazine's Katherine Eban wrote.
While all three newscasts CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, and NBC Nightly News covered the spike in cases from the new Omicron variant and the shortage of test kits, only Fox News’ Special Report mentioned the scathing report from Vanity Fair.
During their A-block, CBS Evening News correspondent Nancy Chen said that while long lines at testing centers around the country continue, she was quick to urge viewers that “President Biden said more testing is becoming available, but admitted it’s still not fast enough.”
CBS made the President seem almost like a bystander, sitting by helplessly watching the situation unfold. Chen then played a clip of Biden telling America’s Governors that “there is no federal solution. This gets solved at state level.” Again, CBS never mentioned the Vanity Fair report.
Down the television dial at almost the exact same time as CBS’s report, ABC national correspondent Marcus Moore recapped Biden’s meeting with the nation’s governors. World News Tonight played remarks by the President admitting more work needed to be done on the testing front:
MOORE: In a meeting with Governors today, the President acknowledged Americans need more Covid tests.
BIDEN: Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do and we're doing it.
Moments later, Moore reported on the White House’s plan to “send out 500 million free test kits starting next month.” But again failed to mention that the Biden Administration rejected an offer to help purchase and distribute them back in October.
In stark contrast to how the networks covered the Biden Administration’s handling of the Covid testing shortages, Fox’s Special Report dedicated over two and a half minutes to the Vanity Fair bombshell report, in which Fox News senior national correspondent Rich Edson reported:
A group of public health officials from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Covid Collaborative, and several other organizations pitched the administration in October with a plan to secure hundreds of millions of tests. Send them to Americans and blunt a potential holiday Covid surge. The response from the White House then, no thanks. That's according to a report in Vanity Fair.
While the White House has denied this, it is telling that the networks would ignore a story like this, considering they were frequently quick to report on stories that reflected badly on the Trump Administration.
To read the relevant transcripts of each segment click “expand”:
CBS Evening News
NANCY CHEN (CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT): As long lines persist around the country, President Biden said more testing is becoming available but admitted it’s still not fast enough. He urged the nation's Governors to reach out for assistance.
JOE BIDEN: Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved at state level.
ABC World News Tonight
MARCUS MOORE (ABC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT): In a meeting with Governors today, the President acknowledged Americans need more covid tests.
JOE BIDEN: Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do and we're doing it.
MOORE: The White House planning to send out 500 million free test kits starting next month.
BIDEN: We have to do more. We have to do better. And we will.
BRET BAIER: President Biden and his covid response team met virtually with the nation's Governors today to discuss efforts to cure the Omicron variant or deal with it effectively. The President maintains his administration's covid testing strategy is not a failure even as a new report says the White House rejected a plan to ramp up holiday testing before the holidays started and President Biden sounds different from candidate Biden when it comes to dealing Covid on a federal level. Senior correspondent Rich Edson has the story from the White House.
JOE BIDEN: Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are you ready for me?
RICH EDSON: For many Americans, covid tests are difficult to find or at the end of an hour's long line.
DOCTOR ASHISH JHA: Unfortunately we do not have enough tests. This really is something we should have been on top of for months and I'm disappointed this is where we are as a country right now.
EDSON: President Biden says his administration is prepared for this omicron-powered surge though he’s admitted the federal government should have purchased more testing two months ago.
BIDEN: If I had -- if we had known we would have gone harder, quicker if we could have.
EDSON: Though a group of public health officials from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Covid Collaborative, and several other organizations pitched the administration in October with a plan to secure hundreds of millions of tests. Send them to Americans and blunt a potential holiday covid surge. The response from the White House then, no thanks. That's according to a report in Vanity Fair. White House officials say the story is not rooted in reality and argue there wasn't enough production capacity in October. On his way out of the White House and to the Delaware shore, the President denied the report.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Biden why did your administration reject a holiday testing surge in October? Does the buck stop with you there, with respect to the surge?
BIDEN: We didn’t reject it.
EDSON: The administration says it will order 500 million at-home tests for Americans to request free online. The website isn't up yet and the tests will likely go out next month, well after the holidays.
ANTHONY FAUCI: We are addressing the testing problem and that very soon that that will be corrected.
EDSON: Speaking to Governors today, the President stressed local officials are largely responsible for handling this surge. That there is no federal solution. This, he says, gets solved at the state level. In that meeting President, Biden also said again that unvaccinated Americans needed to get their shots and stay out of the hospital. Bret?