ABC Heralds End of 'Airport Armageddon,' Fails to Portray Furloughs Battle as Democratic Defeat

April 26th, 2013 12:07 PM

ABC stubbornly stuck to its talking points on Friday, portraying the furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration employees as "airport armageddon." Despite the fact that even liberal outlets such as Politico spun the ending of the furloughs as a loss for the Democrats, Good Morning America's David Kerley failed to do so. A network graphic trumpeted, "Airport Armageddon Ending? Congress Acting to End Delays." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Kerley adopted an everybody-is-to-blame tone, lecturing, "We say Washington is dysfunctional. But when members hear complaints and it's going to affect them, it's amazing how fast they can act." Yet, Politico announced, "Democrats blink first on aviation cuts." Writers Kathryn A. Wolfe and Burgess Everett concluded, "Democrats caved in and agreed to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to keep air traffic control towers running at close to full capacity." This type of analysis didn't make it to ABC.

Instead, Kerley insisted, "Republicans say the administration were making the cuts more severe than necessary." That lone sentence was the first on GMA to hint that the White House might have some responsibility. On Tuesday, the ABC reporters dubbed the furloughs "airplane apocalypse." On Monday, they were back to "airport armageddon."

In contrast, Politico even questioned how painful the cuts really were:

On the other hand, [Senator Tom] Coburn questioned how bad the cuts really are, saying in a letter to LaHood that the FAA appears to be "doing its best to ensure that sequestration is the scapegoat for every flight delay for the rest of the year." He pointed out that on Monday, reports of furlough impacts were "mixed. Some found drastic flight delays; however, National Public Radio reported that there were no noticeable delays."

In an editorial on Friday, the Chicago Tribune lectured, "Somewhere between the Oval Office and a snarled airport near you, the stunt pilots in the Obama administration made a terrible miscalculation."

Yet, other then one mild sentence, GMA ignored this point. A study by the Media Research Center's Mike Ciandella on Thursday found that the three networks mostly blamed Congress and not the President.

A transcript of the April 26 GMA segment follows:

7:07 ET

ABC GRAPHIC: Airport Armageddon Ending? Congress Acting to End Delays

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, the other big story. What could be the end of airport armageddon and all those delays. Action finally happening on Capitol Hill to cut the furloughs of air traffic controllers that have caused flight delays coast-to-coast. ABC's David Kerley is at Reagan National Airport for us there in Washington. Good morning, David.

DAVID KERLEY: Good morning, Robin. Really good news for fliers. You know, these delays were really the main way that voters were feeling the impacts of the spending cuts. Congress is ready to take a week off. So, members decided they needed to do something before they jumped on planes and left town. All week--

MAN: Everything is being backed up because of the FAA issues.

KERLEY: All across the country--

AIRPORT EMPLOYEE: We don't want you to be here.

KERLEY: About 1,000 flights a day delayed.

SECOND MAN: We just sat on the tarmac for about an hour.

KERLEY: Ten percent of air traffic controllers told to stay home. Furloughed. But this morning, the blame game could be over.

WOMAN: All gates, all flights. Come on down.

KERLEY: Republicans say the administration were making the cuts more severe than necessary. But the White House says its hands were tied. The sequestration cuts ordered across the board by Congress.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: These are simply irresponsible cuts that have real and detrimental impacts on the traveling public.

KERLEY: Thursday night, without even a roll call vote, the Senate approved a plan to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to move $250 million from other accounts. No new money. But controllers would be back in the towers, hopefully ending those dreaded delays. Now, here's the good news. The House could take this up today. And this could also cancel the closing of the smaller towers slated for this summer. Josh, you know, we say Washington is dysfunctional. But when members hear complaints and it's going to affect them, it's amazing how fast they can act.