NBC, ABC Ignore Controversy Over Obama Skipping Scalia Funeral

On Thursday, both NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America censored any mention of the controversy swirling around President Obama’s decision to skip the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia scheduled for Saturday. To its credit, CBS This Morning offered a full report on widely criticized move.

On This Morning, correspondent Margaret Brennan explained: “Well, President Obama’s decision to skip the Saturday funeral of Justice Scalia is being seen by some as a snub of the conservative judge. And a missed opportunity by others.” She even highlighted a former White House economic advisor scolding the President: “Former Obama administration official Steve Rattner tweeted, ‘If we want to reduce partisanship, we can start by honoring great public servants who we disagree with.’”

Brennan did provide some cover for the President:

Now White House officials say this is just a misunderstanding, the President will indeed be paying his respects, but doing so on Friday when Scalia’s body is in repose at the Supreme Court.

And there’s no clear protocol. While then-President George Bush delivered the eulogy at Justice Rehnquist’s funeral, his predecessor Bill Clinton attended services for two judges, but skipped those for two others.

However, she concluded the segment by declaring: “The White House won't say whether it was the President's schedule, security concerns, or another factor that led him to bow out. But, Norah, it has become yet another politically charged moment ahead of that fierce battle to fill Justice Scalia's seat.”

On Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos offered a 12-second news brief on the Obamas “set to pay their respects” to Scalia on Friday, but made no mention of the controversy over them being absent at the funeral: “Also right now, President and Mrs. Obama set to pay their respects to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a ceremony on Friday at the Supreme Court. And Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden will attend the funeral mass on Saturday.”

The Today show didn’t cover the issue at all on Thursday.

While introducing Brennan’s report on This Morning, co-host Gayle King noted that a “CBS News poll shows Americans are split over the President's plan to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 47% in our poll say the President should choose a nominee his year, 46% say the next president should make that decision.”

In sharp contrast to NBC and ABC, CBS actually reported on the hypocrisy of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in regard to the debate over naming Scalia’s replacement.

Here is a full transcript of Brennan’s February 18 report:

7:14 AM ET

GAYLE KING: This morning, CBS News poll shows Americans are split over the President's plan to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Scalia Divide; Poll: Americans Split on Who Should Name Nominee]

47% in our poll say the President should choose a nominee his year, 46% say the next president should make that decision.

A spokesman says President Obama will not go to a funeral mass for the late Justice. Vice President Joe Biden will attend on Saturday. Margaret Brennan is at the White House with reaction. Margaret, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Skipping Scalia’s Funeral; President Criticized Over Decision Not to Attend]

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning. Well, President Obama’s decision to skip the Saturday funeral of Justice Scalia is being seen by some as a snub of the conservative judge. And a missed opportunity by others. Former Obama administration official Steve Rattner tweeted, “If we want to reduce partisanship, we can start by honoring great public servants who we disagree with.”

Now White House officials say this is just a misunderstanding, the President will indeed be paying his respects, but doing so on Friday when Scalia’s body is in repose at the Supreme Court.

And there’s no clear protocol. While then-President George Bush delivered the eulogy at Justice Rehnquist’s funeral, his predecessor Bill Clinton attended services for two judges, but skipped those for two others.

The White House won't say whether it was the President's schedule, security concerns, or another factor that led him to bow out. But, Norah, it has become yet another politically charged moment ahead of that fierce battle to fill Justice Scalia's seat.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Yes, indeed. Thank you, Margaret.

NB Daily Appointments Judiciary Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Margaret Brennan Antonin Scalia Barack Obama

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