President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers and political watchdogs are furious that the FBI failed to preserve five months of text messages between FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok – but the news divisions at CBS, NBC and ABC have largely ignored the story.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said the missing texts are relevant because Page and Strzok, who were romantically involved at the time, are being accused of political bias because they frequently exchanged anti-Trump text messages prior to the 2016 election and during key moments of Mueller’s probe – of which Page and Strzok were part.
The Justice Department is looking into whether the text messages were deliberately deleted. Trump has even called the missing texts “one of the biggest stories in a long time,” but viewers who rely on the big three networks’ news outlets would hardly be aware the story is even happening.
The story was completely ignored on Monday’s evening newscasts despite details emerging with plenty of time to be included -- and Tuesday wasn’t much better.
“Where the networks wanted to censor the revelations, Fox News Channel’s ‘Special Report’ covered them in detail,” Newsbusters’ Nicholas Fondacaro wrote. “Instead of reporting on the FBI, ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ gushed about the Super Bowl, ‘CBS Evening News’ reported that Minnie Mouse got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and ‘NBC Nightly News’ fawned over yet another royal wedding in the U.K.”
ABC News still had not even mentioned the story as of Tuesday night when it was skipped on “World News Tonight,” according to the Media Research Center.
CBS spent three minutes covering the story on Tuesday morning’s edition of “CBS This Morning,” but coverage was reduced to just 36 seconds by the time “CBS Evening News” aired later in the day, according to the MRC.
Fondacaro noted that CBS’ coverage “seemed to paint it as something the White House was claiming happened,” pointing to a quote by CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett and the decision to hide the details in a larger story about the Russia investigation as proof that the network isn’t properly covering the situation.
Over on embattled NBC News, Lester Holt managed to take a break from praising North Korea to dedicate a whopping 27 seconds of Tuesday’s “Nightly News” to the story, according to the MRC.
NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Welker also tied the story to the Russia investigation, saying, “As the investigation gets closer to the president, Mr. Trump is escalating his battle with the very department that's investigating him,” before noting that Strzok was “removed from the special counsel probe for writing disparaging messages about then-candidate Trump.”
MRC Vice President Dan Gainor called the lack of coverage “utterly insane,” and said “major media never seem to care about missing emails or missing texts when it benefits the left.”
“The question is whether we can trust the FBI to investigate impartially. We all hope the answer is yes. But journalists need to pursue this story especially if that isn't the case.”
“But they still obsess about Nixon's missing tapes more than four decades later,” Gainor told Fox News. “The question is whether we can trust the FBI to investigate impartially. We all hope the answer is yes. But journalists need to pursue this story, especially if that isn't the case.”
Despite the lack of coverage, Republican lawmakers are well aware of the importance of the story.
“What this is all about is further evidence of corruption, more than bias. But corruption of the highest levels of the FBI,” Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., told Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Media analyst, author and DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that GOP lawmakers speaking out should be enough to make the story newsworthy.
“If nothing else, the networks could simply report the comments made publicly by Senator Johnson on ‘Special Report,’” McCall said. “News organizations frequently cite each other’s reporting for creating their own stories.”