NBC's Today on Tuesday offered a scant ten seconds to the White House's backpedaling on skipping the massive anti-terror rally in France. In contrast, ABC's Good Morning America heralded the admission as "rapid" and "remarkable." CBS This Morning offered the most balanced coverage, featuring Ted Cruz complaining, "Where was the secretary of state? Where was the attorney general...?"
White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday admitted, "I think it's fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to [the Paris rally]." On GMA, George Stephanopoulos trumpeted this as an "unusually rapid concession for the White House." Jon Karl deemed it "a remarkably quick turnaround for a White House that rarely admits mistakes."
The journalist pronounced Earnest's comments to be the "kind of words that you almost never hear from a White House press secretary."
Today offered a different type of biased coverage. Despite the four hour run time, the program managed a mere ten seconds. The totality of the coverage included a brief clip of Earnest and of reporter Richard Engel allowing, "And the White House admits it messed up not sending someone bigger to that Paris rally."
It's not as though there wasn't time. The show devoted three minutes to hyping the latest episode of Celebrity Apprentice.
CBS This Morning offered the most extensive coverage, a full report of two minutes and 27 seconds. (Compared to ABC's one minute and 31 seconds and ten seconds on NBC.) Charlie Rose deemed the White House comments an "unusual apology" and explained that "critics blasted President Obama for missing the rally."
Major Garrett described, "The White House admitted when the world was watching it was missing in action." This Morning was the only show on the three networks, Tuesday, that featured Republican criticism of the administration's failure to attend.
A transcript of the January 13 segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to Washington now where the President's team has now apologized for failing to send a high-level official to that massive unity rally in Paris. ABC's Jon Karl at the White House. And Jon, this was an unusually rapid concession for the White House.
JON KARL: George, this was a remarkably quick turnaround for a White House that rarely admits mistakes. But now this -- now White House officials are saying, bluntly, that they should have sent a much more high-profile representative to that march. You heard from Josh Earnest, the type – kind of words that you almost never hear from a White House press secretary. [At briefing.] You said you should have sent somebody with a higher profile. Why?
JOSH EARNEST: The American people stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in France, and sending a high-level, highly visible senior administration official with a high profile to that march would have done that.
KARL: Privately, officials are saying they still believe it would have been impractical because of security requirements to send the President on such short notice. But, George, what they wish they had done now is to have at least sent Secretary of State John Kerry.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I about bet they do. Meantime, this attack on Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts comes as the White House is announcing a new strategy to take on cyber attacks.
KARL: Yeah, they're going to announce a new proposed legislation on cyber security and a summit to be had he would next month out at Stanford University. But, George, this was legislation they proposed three years ago and never passed Congress.