In less than 24 hours, the big three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to a traffic scandal involving Chris Christie than they’ve allowed in the last six months to Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service controversy. Since the story broke on Wednesday that aides to the New Jersey governor punished a local mayor’s lack of endorsement with a massive traffic jam, ABC, CBS and NBC have responded with 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage. Since July 1, these same networks managed a scant two minutes and eight seconds for the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. In contrast, journalists such as Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos pounced on the developing Christie story. The GMA host opened the program on Thursday by announcing, “Chris Christie in crisis. Calls at this hour for the feds to step in, investigate the explosive e-mails.”
The same network evening news shows that ignored vindictiveness by the Obama administration during October’s government shutdown were up in arms Wednesday over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” and the possible tarring it could give his image. Anchor Brian Williams led Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News by touting, “a story of what some are calling an abuse of power and an act of political retribution by those close to one of the most prominent politicians in our country.” He tied the mess to the GOP as a whole, describing Christie as “a man a lot of Republicans regard as a consensus candidate for the party nomination in 2016.”
On Thursday’s NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd reveled in the wall-to-wall media coverage of the bridge closing controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “Welcome to the NFL….he has gotten a lot of benefit by being sort of this Republican rising star in the New York City media markets, so he gets a lot of access to media attention, access to national media. And so he’s had a free ride, if you will. Well now, welcome to the vetting process.” Todd’s comments were prompted by co-host Matt Lauer declaring: “[Christie] is a political star for the Republican Party. He’s now the head of the Republican Governor’s Association, a lot of power there, so Democrats are gonna work this story for a long time.” Todd replied: “Absolutely….Now that he’s essentially shown interest in being a presidential candidate, this is what life is like. This is what happens when the bright lights start burning.”
After months of stonewalling the Justice Department finally named someone to head the investigation into the IRS-Tea Party scandal – and it’s an Obama donor. So far ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to mention what Darrell Issa called “a startling conflict of interest.” In fact the Big Three networks have almost completely stopped covering the IRS scandal investigation altogether. Since July 1, ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted a total of just 2 minutes and 8 seconds to the IRS imbroglio.