In a Thursday morning address on the Senate floor, Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken announced that he would step down from office as pressure mounted from his female colleagues. But he went down swinging, noting what he called “irony” in Donald Trump being President and Republican Roy Moore still running for Senate. ABC’s World News Tonight got his hint and spent more time harping on the “irony” than Franken’s resignation, while NBC Nightly News forgot to report he was a Democrat.
The segment pitched as being about Franken was reported by ABC’s congressional correspondent Mary Bruce and lasted a total of two minutes and 58 seconds. Of that time, only 53 seconds was actually spent covering the allegations against Franken, his denials of wrongdoing, the growing political pressure, and his ultimate resignation from office.
In comparison, Bruce spent one minute and 37 seconds highlighting Franken’s “parting shot” at “irony.” During that time, she again revisited the accusations against President Trump by over a dozen women and the allegations against Moore, which included acts that involved minors. Franken’s “parting shot”:
I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony. In the fact that I am leaving, while a man who has bragged on tame about his history of sexual assault sits in the oval office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.
“Still, he's bowing to the demands of dozens of his Democratic colleagues who pushed him to resign. But not without this parting shot, taking aim at President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore,” Bruce touted. “Republicans are now in a tough spot.”
It’s also worth noting that ABC’s on-screen headline during the entire report was not about Franken’s resignation, but his “parting shot” at Republicans. And as anchor David Muir led into the segment, he hyped how “in his own words today, Franken pointed to what he called the irony, the allegations against the current president and against Roy Moore, running for Senate, both with strong support from the Republican Party.”
The rest of ABC’s time (28 seconds) was spent reporting on Arizona Republican Trent Franks’ newly announced resignation as the House Ethics Committee began looking into sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Meanwhile, on NBC Nightly News, the time dedicated to Franken was one minute and 41 seconds. They only briefly mentioned his parting comments and didn’t dwell on them as ABC did. But during that entire time, correspondent Kasie Hunt never once mentioned that the Minnesota Senator was a Democrat or used any ideological labels. Yet, when she spoke of the resignation of Franks she did indeed note his party affiliation.
And when it came to reporting on Franks’ resignation, both ABC and CBS let loose with the ideological tagging. On CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes described him as a “deeply religious Christian conservative,” while ABC’s Bruce labeled him a “conservative firebrand.” There were no hyperbolic labels for Franken from either network.
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World News Tonight
December 7, 2017
6:40:05 PM Eastern
DAVID MUIR: In the meantime, we do move on to the other major headlines of this evening. Senator Al Franken announcing he will resign, after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. And calls from his Democratic colleagues, beginning with several prominent women in the Senate over the last 24 hours, calling on him to resign. But in his own words today, Franken pointed to what he called the irony, the allegations against the current president and against Roy Moore, running for Senate, both with strong support from the Republican party. Here tonight, ABC's Mary Bruce.
[Cuts to video]
MARY BRUCE: Al Franken walking to the Senate floor today to announce he's leaving for good.
BRUCE: Eight women have accused the Minnesota Democrat of sexual misconduct. Franken has apologized for some of his behavior, but today he made one thing clear –
BRUCE: Still, he's bowing to the demands of dozens of his Democratic colleagues who pushed him to resign. But not without this parting shot, taking aim at President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
AL FRANKEN: I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony. In the fact that I am leaving, while a man who has bragged on tame about his history of sexual assault sits in the oval office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.
BRUCE: More than a dozen women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. He insists they're all liars. The White House Press Secretary today defended her boss.
BRUCE: Republicans are now in a tough spot. The Alabama election is on Tuesday. Moore has denied accusations of inappropriate behavior from eight women, including two who say he assaulted them as teenagers.
BRUCE: Mitch McConnell says, if elected, Moore would immediately face an ethics investigation. Are you concerned here that it looks like the parties are operating by different standards when it comes to sexual harassment?
[Cuts back to live]
MUIR: And Mary Bruce with us live tonight up on the hill. Mary, I know there is news breaking right now at this hour about yet another member of Congress? What can you tell us?
BRUCE: David, this time, it is a Republican. We have just learned moments ago that Arizona Congressman Trent Franks is resigning. He's known as a conservative firebrand, especially on social issues. He now becomes the third member of Congress to resign just this week. David?
MUIR: Mary Bruce on the hill for us again tonight. Mary, thank you.