Despite a four-hour running time, NBC's Today on Tuesday completely ignored the latest developments in the still evolving Veterans Affairs scandal. ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning allowed a combined 30 seconds to the news that the head of the Phoenix VA hospital has been fired.
GMA news anchor Amy Robach related, "Well, new fallout from the health care scandal at veterans hospitals. The director of the Phoenix VA facility at the center of the scandal has now been fired." She added, "An investigation found 40 paints patients died while waiting for appointments at the hospital."
This Morning co-host Gayle King noted that " Sharon Helman is believed to be the first local VA director to lose her job in this scandal." ABC managed a scant 13 seconds to the scandal facing Barack Obama's administration. CBS offered only 17 seconds.
Some might excuse the meager coverage by pointing to the focus on the non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. However, Today still found time to spend almost five minutes on where the best Black Friday deals will be. GMA devoted just over two minutes to the "best way to fight wrinkles." This Morning featured actress Keira Knightley for five and a half minutes.
Clearly, there was time for important news not related to Ferguson.
It should be noted that NBC News did notice the story online. Reporter Kelly O'Donnell wrote, "The head of the Phoenix veterans' hospital at the center of the Veterans Affairs scandal was formally removed on Monday."
Tuesday's non-coverage fits the pattern for NBC. On September 18, the network avoided the "stunning" (according to ABC) revelation that long wait times did lead to the deaths of veterans.
In May, a Media Research Center study found that, over a month, the networks gave less airtime to the VA scandal than the Chris Christie bridge controversy received in four days.
A transcript of the ABC and CBS segments can be found below:
AMY ROBACH: Well, new fallout from the health care scandal at veterans hospitals. The director of the Phoenix VA facility at the center of the scandal has now been fired. An investigation found 40 paints patients died while waiting for appointments at the hospital.
CBS This Morning
November 25, 2014
GAYLE KING: The Arizona Republic says the head of the troubled Phoenix VA healthcare system fired seven months after being suspended. Sharon Helman is believed to be the first local VA director to lose her job in this scandal. Employees at Phoenix hospital were accused of covering up long wait times for veterans to receive the care they need.