NBC and ABC omitted covering the Supreme Court's final two rulings from their Tuesday morning newscasts, despite the fact that the decisions came down after their Monday episodes aired. Only CBS This Morning set aside air time for the ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which upheld the religious liberty rights of closely held corporations.
Viewers of ABC's Good Morning America might have guessed that the Supreme Court handed down some decisions, as the morning show devoted a full segment to the "running of the interns," where the summer interns of media outlets run copies of Court's "big rulings" to the journalists outside. GMA even held their own intern race, where the competitors run cups of iced coffee to the anchors inside the studio: [video below]
MICHAEL STRAHAN: An epic showdown right now in the 'Social Square.' I'm here with – I'm here now with ABC's Gio Benitez, and he's here to explain the viral sensation, 'Running of the Interns.' Gio, go ahead.
GIO BENITEZ: Are you ready, Michael?
STRAHAN: I'm ready to roll.
BENITEZ: It's epic. It's that time of year – the summer internship – and in D.C., so many interns are being put to the ultimate test. It's part of what's known as 'running of the interns.' Our friends at Buzzfeed helped us out with this video. No televised or electronic recordings are allowed inside the Supreme Court. So when a big ruling is handed down, interns physically run the printed copy across the street to where TV anchors are allowed to broadcast.
So, we thought it would be fun to host our own running of the interns. So, we're changing the rules just a bit. Our interns will be speed-walking. We don't want anyone getting hurt, Michael. So, our GMA interns must carry iced coffee orders for the anchors, speed-walking through Times Square, passing through the 'Social Square,' and inside to the desk. The first intern to safely deliver a full cup of iced coffee to the desk and ring the bell wins. And boy – you know, those anchors, if they don't get their coffee.
The Big Three networks' morning shows (as well as their Monday evening newscasts) also ignored that the Eleventh Circuit Court granted Catholic TV network EWTN a temporary injunction against the ObamaCare mandate later in the day on Monday, which cited the Supreme Court's opinion in the Hobby Lobby case.
CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose introduced correspondent Jan Crawford's report by hyping how "women's rights groups this morning are denouncing a Supreme Court ruling on birth control and the Affordable Care Act. But justices say private companies can use religious beliefs to deny contraceptives in their health insurance coverage." Crawford did begin by giving the other side of the debate over the case: "You know, on the other side, supporters are saying this was an important victory of protecting religious rights from government interference."
However, the CBS journalist slanted toward the opponents of Justice Samuel Alito's decision by playing two sound bites from Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and Hillary Clinton totaling 20 seconds, versus a five second clip from Lori Windham of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who argued in front of the Court for Hobby Lobby's owners.
JAN CRAWFORD: ...You know, on the other side, supporters are saying this was an important victory of protecting religious rights from government interference. I mean, rarely do you see a case where people see the issue and what it all means so differently.
[CBS News Graphic: "Supreme Outrage: Women's Groups Attack Ruling On Contraceptives"]
JAN CRAWFORD: The case was politically divisive – pitting women's rights against religious freedoms. And it deeply divided the justices, who split sharply along conservative-liberal lines. The majority decision by Justice Samuel Alito emphasized religious freedom, and said it would not hurt women's access to birth control. 'There are other ways the government can assure that every woman has cost-free access to the particular contraceptive',' the Court said, making the impact on the women employed by the companies 'precisely zero.'
It was a victory for family-owned companies, like the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and craft stores, whose owners, David and Barbara Green, challenged the law because it requires them to offer coverage for specific forms of birth control – like the morning-after pill and the IUD – which they believe facilitate abortion.
Lori Windham is an attorney with the Becket Fund, which represents the Greens.
LORI WINDHAM, THE BECKET FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: What the Supreme Court said is that families do not give up their religious freedom when they open a family business.
CRAWFORD: But liberal justices, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, framed the issue as one of women's rights – saying the Court has 'ventured into a minefield' by ruling for the first time that a for-profit corporation could have this kind of religious exemption.
CECILE RICHARDS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: There are dozens of challenges across the country by employers who don't want to provide any kind of birth control for their employees. So, this is just the – this is only the beginning.
CRAWFORD: The political debate, also, is certain to continue. Hillary Clinton, a possible 2016 Democratic presidential contender, cast it as a defeat for women.
HILLARY CLINTON: Employers can impose their religious beliefs on their employees. And, of course, denying women the right to contraception as part of their health care plan is exactly that.
CRAWFORD (on-camera): Now, one thing that is clear, with all of this controversy: this is an incredibly-divided – closely-divided court. They split, of course, five to four on this ruling. That means that whoever wins the White House in 2016 is probably going to get a nomination or two to the Supreme Court. So they will have an impact on a generation of rulings and important issues going forward.