As the old saying goes, ‘never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.’ The Big Three networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) did just that Monday night when they pounced on claims made on social media that President Donald Trump and his national security team discussed details of the North Korean missile test in public. They gleefully read the Facebook posts of a man who was in the dining room with Trump and who claimed they were discussing the launch, even though Jeff Pegues admitted on CBS Evening News “It's not known what they were discussing…”
Jeff Pegues touted one of James Comey's "critics" on Friday's CBS Evening News, after the FBI director wrote to Congress that new e-mails related to Hillary Clinton's unauthorized private server had been uncovered in an unrelated investigation. Pegues underlined that "the timing of today's revelation has angered some former Department of Justice employees," and quoted from one such individual's posts on Twitter. However, the journalist failed to mention this former DOJ employee's past as a Democratic operative.
While ABC and CBS on Monday highlighted the fire bombing of a Republican Party headquarters in North Carolina as “political terrorism,” NBC only gave the story seconds and avoided using that phrase. CBS This Morning opened the program with the story and reporter Jeff Pegues explained, “Local officials are calling the violence an act of political terrorism.”
On Monday, the three network morning shows hyped “security concerns” over Ohio’s open carry gun law and the prospect of protesters being armed around the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. On NBC’s Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk feared: “The other concern that police have, that people are going to come here carrying their guns. There is a long list of banned items, but because of Ohio law, they are allowed to bring guns.”
Despite swirling controversy over the Obama Justice Department’s decision to censor 911 transcripts of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen pledging allegiance to ISIS during his shooting rampage, on Monday, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today avoided any mention of the glaring omission. Only CBS This Morning actually pointed out the censorship, as correspondent Jeff Pegues revealed: “The transcript will include redactions, including his pledge to ISIS.”
ABC, CBS, NBC's Friday evening newscasts all failed to mention Islamism as a possible motive in their coverage of the machete attack inside an Ohio restaurant on Thursday. ABC's World News Tonight didn't even use the word "terrorism" during their report on Mohamed Barry's rampage. Alex Perez merely noted that "Barry was known to the FBI, but was not under a full-scale investigation." CBS's Jeff Pegues underlined that "police say the assault has the hallmarks of a terrorism-inspired attack." Pegues was also the only Big Three correspondent to report that Barry was "here in the U.S. on a green card."
Friday's NBC Nightly News failed to cover the arrests of two Iraqi refugees in Texas and California on terror charges. This omission came hours after the network's morning show, Today, led their broadcast with the story. The same evening, ABC and CBS's evening newscasts both covered the arrests of Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab and Omar Faraj Saeed al Hardan, who are accused of having connections to the radical Islamic group, ISIS.
On Friday's World News Tonight, ABC's Ryan Owens played up how Lafayette, Louisiana mass shooter John "Rusty" Houser was "politically active – even running for office as an ultra-conservative, anti-tax crusader in Georgia." Owens also spotlighted how "investigators are scouring Houser's postings on known anti-government websites – hoping, perhaps, to find some answers there."
The Big Three's morning newscasts on Wednesday and Thursday all covered the breach of an online IRS system by hackers that compromised the personal information of 100,000 taxpayers. However, none of the programs mentioned President Obama by name during their reporting, nor did they revisit any of the other problems or scandals involving the agency in recent years. CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News have yet to cover the IRS hacking, as of Wednesday evening.
On Monday, both NBC's Today and CBS This Morning used a terrorist threat against the Mall of America in Minneapolis to hit the Republican Congress over the Department of Homeland Security funding fight. On Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker concluded her report on the security concerns by declaring: "Meanwhile, the clock is ticking with Congress locked in a bitter battle over how to fund DHS. If Congress can't resolve its differences by Friday, the agency that oversees much of the nation's security operations will run out of money."
In a move as rare as finding a four-leaf clover, Norah O'Donnell actually disclosed on Wednesday's CBS This Morning that New York City Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio ran a "very liberal campaign". Jeff Pegues also noted how the "52-year-old liberal" is a "proponent of...taxing the wealthy". The program was also the sole Big Three morning newscast to underline de Blasio's political ideology, and devote a full report to his electoral win.
However, the show ended up gushing over the hard-left politician. O'Donnell asserted that de Blasio is "suddenly a national political figure", while Pegues trumpeted that "Bill de Blasio will soon be a household name". Charlie Rose and Gayle King later ballyhooed the election results: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Jeff Pegues spotlighted the lack of GOP speakers at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech: "Noticeably absent from this event, the GOP...the two most senior Republicans in the House...were invited to speak but declined." However, Pegues failed to mention that the event organizers didn't make much of an effort to get Republican Tim Scott, the only current black U.S. senator, to speak.
The correspondent also zeroed in on former President Bill Clinton's dubious claim during his speech at the commemoration – that "a great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]