Wednesday night’s PBS NewsHour town hall in Elkhart, Indiana had it all with host Gwen Ifill attacking residents for not supporting President Barack Obama and the President praising PBS’s “civility,” but it also featured audience members surprisingly being allowed to blast the President on issues ranging from the economy to ObamaCare to regulations to veterans.
Late Tuesday afternoon, CNN and MSNBC were both granted interviews with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and while both had to nearly identical run times (seven minutes and 44 seconds on CNN versus seven minutes and 47 seconds on MSNBC), the two differed on a variety of issues ranging from Clinton’s e-mail scandal to her refusal to hold a press conference to the VA scandal.
On Thursday evening, the major English and Spanish broadcast networks failed to cover an explosive, new investigation released early Thursday afternoon by USA Today revealing that Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals in seven states have been falsifying wait times, marking yet another piece in the multi-year VA scandal.
In an absurd attempt by Washington Monthly to claim that the scandal at the Veteran’s Affairs Department was “invented” by the Koch brothers in order to “dismantle the country’s most successful health care system,” the liberal publication made numerous false statements that were contradicted by the agency’s own inspector general report.
On Wednesday night, NBC Nightly News neglected to inform its viewers of a new report concerning the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs and the $142 million it paid out in bonuses to employees (including some who were facing discipline and/or recently fired). Compiled by the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the report stated that some of those who received bonuses still got them despite the fact that “several of them were under investigation or accused of mismanagement.”
Tuesday's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN revealed that "wait times inside many V.A. health facilities are growing longer, not shorter. Right now, a half million veterans are...waiting, in many cases, more than 90 days to see a doctor." Drew Griffin uncovered documents that "just this past August in Phoenix, there were more than 8,000 appointments waiting more than 90 days." Griffin pointed out that this is "the same Phoenix V.A. where last year, CNN uncovered the fact that veterans were dying while waiting for care."
On Thursday night, the top English and Spanish broadcast networks made no mention of the latest surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal as an Associated Press (AP) investigation found that the number of delays for veterans seeking care has not improved as the scandal approaches its first anniversary.
CBS Evening News was the sole Big Three evening newscast on Friday to cover President Obama's visit to the V.A. hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where "some vets died before they got treatment, and hospital officials hid those long delays on secret wait lists," as Scott Pelley put it. The CBS program also touted a veteran who poured cold water on the Obama administration's claim that appointment times have improved in the V.A. system.
The Indianapolis Star reported on Monday that it had obtained emails from an employee at the Indianapolis VA hospital who mocked returning combat veterans who were facing mental health issues and committed suicide. On Monday night, both the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and NBC Nightly News failed to cover this story.
Wyatt Andrews revealed the details of a new scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday's CBS This Morning. Andrews zeroed in on how the veterans' benefits office in Oakland, California simply ignored "more than 13,000 informal claims filed between 1996 and 2009 – all of which were stashed in a file cabinet." The correspondent spotlighted whistleblowers who claimed that "V.A. supervisors in Oakland ordered [employees] to mark the claims 'no action necessary,' and to toss them aside." Andrews later put the California benefits office in a larger context of government "mismanagement."
In an interview with The Huffington Post published on Monday night, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald admitted to falsely claiming in a segment on January 30's CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on January 30 that he had served in U.S. Army Special Forces during his service from mid-1970s to 1980.
McDonald retracted what he had told a homeless veteran in Los Angeles by saying, in part, that “I have no excuse,” “I was not in special forces,” and had “no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is.”
Each of the network morning shows devoted some time on Wednesday to looking back at the biggest news stories of year and, while they certainly could not have included every story in the allotted time, they all failed to spend even a few seconds on topics such as Jonathan Gruber, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, President Obama’s unpopularity, and the Hobby Lobby case to name a few.
In addition, the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC each mentioned the midterm elections and how Republicans were able to win control of the Senate (in addition to the House), they devoted a scant 21 seconds to the topic over the course of their roundups, which totaled 42 minutes and 50 seconds.