Published June 13, 2012
Big Gulps might be on the way out in New York, but not at 30 Rock, the home of NBC News. There, the big gulp happened last night as network newsies were forced to swallow their pride and report on the deadly “Fast and Furious” scandal as Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Capitol Hill.
This was the first time the network had covered “Fast and Furious” though the scandal dates back more than a year. For a whole year, stubborn, Obama-supporting network news execs probably thought the whole embarrassing episode would disappear. When it finally didn’t, NBC covered it as you might expect – poorly and with spin.
Anchor Brian Williams set up the piece and the GOP at the same time. “In Washington today, Attorney General Eric Holder took heavy fire from Republican critics in a Senate hearing and calls for his resignation are growing louder, but Democrats contend it’s all about politics in an election season.” Viewers could easily note what seemed to be disdain in his voice when Williams mentioned the idea of “resignation,” but then again, he was probably just upset and resigned to doing the story.
Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell then took over, repeating the Williams theme that this was all about a Republican ax to grind. -- And certainly never about an American border agent being killed by guns that Holder did everything but Fed-Ex to Mexican drug lords. -- Williams and O’Donnell mentioned Republicans seven times and Democrats just twice because this was a “long simmering conflict between Republicans and Attorney General Eric Holder.”
Just in case you missed it, it’s just politics to NBC: “Republicans leveled a series of accusations – the latest over national security leaks – that Republicans allege could involve senior Obama administration officials.” “Holder refused Republican demands for an outside special counsel.” “Another controvery? Republicans claim Holder has misled and refused to cooperate with Congress’s investigation of a failed operation that sent US guns into Mexico codenamed ‘Fast and Furious.’”
Bitter much? Maybe NBC is tired of being stomped by competitor CBS News worse than watching a skateboarding competition between Tony Hawk and Williams. Even then, no matter how bad Williams would do, at least he’d have to show up. And that’s something NBC was incapable of managing for more than a year.
Ironically, NBC did have a few mentions of term “fast and furious” during the past year, just none of them actually referred to the scandal. In one, “Today” co-host Ann Curry told viewers that reaction to a Dugar family baby announcement was “fast and furious.”
Perhaps network execs will learn there is fallout from such disdain for an important story by their audience. In the future, when they ignore stories because of their agenda, maybe that reaction will be “fast and furious,” too.