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No Time for a Real Threat as ABC and CBS Skip Arrest of Man Targeting GOP's Cantor

NBC on Monday night squeezed in a few seconds for the arrest of "a Philadelphia man for threatening the life of the number two Republican in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor of Virginia."

Yet after the networks led last week with less-immediate threats against Democrats, they weren't so interested in a real case of a death threat against a Republican as neither CBS nor ABC aired a word about the arrest and NBC's Brian Williams gave it short-shrift after leading last Wednesday with Democrats as the victims: "It's getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric, including threats now against members of Congress."

The next night, Williams still portrayed opponents as the only ones with miscreants amongst their ranks: "While the White House continues to celebrate its largest-ever legislative victory, opponents of health care reform have reacted to the final vote with anger, a few of them with threats of violence."

CBS last week started with "threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform" as Nancy Cordes relayed how "Democrats complain Sarah Palin is also using violent words and imagery." On Monday, the CBS Evening News devoted a full story to fretting over a "loophole" which insurance companies may use to delay providing coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions and Katie Couric spent half a minute on how the New York Yankees are "the best-paid team in all of sports," with the NBA "the highest-paid league" followed by cricket's Indian Premier League.

Though Cantor's district is beyond metro DC, ABC's Washington, DC affiliate, WJLA-DT, led its 6 PM news Monday night with the arrest of Norman Leboon, but a half hour later World News didn't mention it as Diane Sawyer began with "homegrown hate, extremists from a Midwestern, Christian militia under arrest." Five days earlier, a dire Sawyer warned "opposition to health care turns menacing," asserting "angry opponents of the [health] bill unleashed threatening phone calls, scathing words, even bricks thrown through windows."

Wednesday night, March 24: "Nets Lead with 'Ugly' and 'Menacing' ObamaCare Opponents Fueled by Palin's 'Violent Words and Imagery.'"

Thursday night, March 25: "Nets Not So Excited About Violence and Threats Aimed at ObamaCare Opponents."

The short item from Williams on the Monday, March 29 NBC Nightly News:

The FBI said today they've arrested a Philadelphia man for threatening the life of the number two Republican in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor of Virginia. 38-year-old Norman Leboon made a profanity-laced video that called Cantor evil and then some. He's being held without bail pending a psychiatric evaluation. The arrest is not related to a bullet hole found in Cantor's district office which police now say was caused instead by random gun fire.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.