History repeated itself tonight, as NBC once again blocked out major developments in the 2018 case of murdered Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts. The other two networks also played partisan politics by trying to hide her killer's illegal immigration status.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera confessed to killing the young college student, after her body was found dumped in a cornfield. While the case horrified the nation, the media didn’t want to touch the story for obvious reasons, and evidently, still don’t. This afternoon a jury found Bahena Rivera, guilty of first degree murder. ABC’s evening newscast gave the update just twenty seconds while CBS was the only network to give it a full report. NBC Nightly News chose to completely ignore the verdict.
On ABC’s World News Tonight, fill-in anchor Whit Johnson shared this brief, completely avoiding mentioning the fact that Bahena Rivera was an illegal immigrant (it wasn’t on screen either):
A verdict tonight in a case making national headlines. A jury today finding Cristhian Bahena Rivera guilty of murder for the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts in Brooklyn, Iowa. She disappeared while jogging near her home in 2018, Rivera killing her and leaving her in a cornfield. The jury deliberating seven hours before reaching its verdict.
Just like ABC, CBS also refused to call the murderer an illegal immigrant, though they at least used the euphemism, “undocumented” instead. Anchor Major Garrett announced, “Tonight, a guilty verdict in a murder case that became part of a bitter American political debate. The victim: A young Iowa woman who had been out jogging. The man now convicted: An undocumented farm worker.”
In correspondent Adriana Diaz’s report, she touted how “Tibbetts captured the collective soul of America,” but “the arrest of Rivera, an undocumented dairy worker, became a lightning rod over illegal immigration.”
As mentioned previously, NBC Nightly News refused to report on the guilty verdict. They did, however, report on the "emotional reunion" between an abandoned boy brought over the border illegally and his mother in Texas.
NBC did cover Tibbetts' case on their website. And it was about as bad as you’d expect. Bahena Rivera was described simply as a “farmhand” in the lede. NBC writer David K. Li buried Rivera's immigration status, a whopping 26 paragraphs into the story.
Back in 2018, NBC’s evening newscast also chose not to inform viewers when Tibbetts' autopsy report came out, revealing the violent way she was killed. That same week, one guest on MSNBC, NBC’s sister network, casually sneered at Tibbetts' murder case as some “girl in Iowa” that “Fox News is talking about.”
NBC's playing partisan politics with murder victims was paid for by Progressive. Contact them at the Conservatives Fight Back page here.
Read the transcripts below:
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
WHIT JOHNSON: A verdict tonight in a case making national headlines. A jury today finding Cristhian Bahena Rivera guilty of murder for the death of 20-year-old Molly Tibbetts in Brooklyn, Iowa. She disappeared while jogging near her home in 2018, Rivera killing her and leaving her in a cornfield. The jury deliberating seven hours before reaching its verdict.
CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell
MAJOR GARRETT: Tonight, a guilty verdict in a murder case that became part of a bitter American political debate. The victim: A young Iowa woman who had been out jogging. The man now convicted: An undocumented farm worker. CBS' Adriana Diaz has closely followed this case.
JURY MEMBER: Cristhian Bahena Rivera, guilty of the crime of murder in the first degree.
ADRIANA DIAZ: The verdict came on the first full day of deliberations, in a case that rocked the heartland.
PROSECUTOR: He knew where the body was, and that was a big piece of the corroboration to his story.
DIAZ: The disappearance of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who was last seen on a jog in July of 2018, consumed the town of Brooklyn, Iowa. Surveillance video of Tibbetts and this black Malibu led investigators to Rivera. The arrest of Rivera, an undocumented dairy worker, became a lightning rod over illegal immigration.
REPORTER: Do you have anything to say?
DIAZ: Rivera told investigators in 2018 that he followed Tibbetts, whom he found attractive, and when she threatened to call police, he became angry and blacked out, later finding her body in his trunk. He led police to her body in this cornfield. Mollie Tibbetts captured the collective soul of America.
ROB TIBBETTS: People see in Mollie their own daughters, their own girlfriend, their own sister.
DIAZ: Prosecutors said Tibbetts' family is relieved. Now, first-degree murder carries a life sentence in Iowa. Bahena Rivera who on the stand said two masked men killed Diaz and put her body in his car, plans to appeal.