Network News Gives More Than Four Minutes to Lauten Controversy; Ignored Gruber for Three Days

December 2, 2014

Network newscasts combined to air four minutes and 18 seconds of coverage Monday night of Republican staffer Elizabeth Lauten’s Facebook post criticizing Sasha and Malia Obama and the subsequent outrage it caused.

By comparison, neither ABC, CBS, nor NBC aired stories on Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber the night of November 10, the Monday after footage emerged of him discussing the lack of transparency in the law’s creation and its reliance on the "stupidity of the American voter."

All three networks had features on President Obama’s trip to China with no mention of the Gruber controversy that day. They also all aired packages with new details on the death of comedian Joan Rivers.

Yet the story of an obscure staffer for an obscure Congressman writing an ill-advised open letter to the Obama children was significant enough that NBC aired a segment lasting more than two minutes on it. White House correspondent Kristen Welker reported on the "swift and brutal" blowback online after Lauten wrote that the Obama daughters should have exhibited more class and dressed better at the annual turkey pardoning ceremony.

Welker even interviewed Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus for the piece, as well as Republican spokesman Sean Spicer, who criticized the media’s obsession with a non-story.

CBS Evening News reporter Bill Plante’s piece featured White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s reaction to what Plante called Lauten’s "snarky posting."

ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir read a 25-second blurb on Lauten and the fallout.

Lauten, who was communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R., Tenn.), apologized for what she wrote but still resigned. The hashtag, #FireElizabethLauten, helped the Twitter Outrage Mob claim another victim.

As for Gruber, CBS Evening News waited until Thursday, November 13 to air a story about his flood of inflammatory, insulting comments about the American people and the deceit necessary to make Obamacare a reality. ABC World News Tonight waited until November 18, while NBC Nightly News never got around to him.