Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

Networks Ignore 'Audit the IRS' Rally; Minimize Coverage of $70 Million in IRS Bonuses

The Big Three all punted on covering the Capitol Hill "Audit the IRS" rally on their Wednesday evening and Thursday morning newscasts. CBS This Morning played a four-second soundbite of Senator Ted Cruz addressing the thousands of Tea Party activists in attendance, but CBS, along with ABC and NBC, didn't air a full report or news brief on the protest.

The CBS morning show also stood out for spotlighting how the "IRS is under fire again...it's paying $70 million in employee bonuses, despite a White House order." CBS This Morning devoted 47 seconds of coverage to this latest IRS controversy, while ABC and NBC ignored the development.

Anchor Norah O'Donnell gave a news brief noting how Republican Senator Chuck Grassley blasted the IRS bonuses, and inserted slanted language about the sequester: "Grassley believes the bonuses are not allowed while the government deals with massive automatic spending cuts."

Forty-seven minutes later, co-anchors Charlie Rose and Gayle King gave a second brief on the IRS controversy. King actually pointed out how "the agency is already under fire for targeting conservative groups asking for tax-exempt status." The Big Three's coverage of this earlier IRS scandal has dropped off in recent days. Since June 7, ABC, CBS, and NBC have devoted only two stories to the issue.

Besides the Cruz clip, CBS News also put up a minute and a half montage on its website that singled out some of the more outlandish demonstrators at the anti-IRS demonstration on Capitol Hill, including a man impersonating a minuteman, and a woman who expressed her fear that ObamaCare's regulations might kill her.

The transcripts of the IRS news briefs from Thursday's CBS This Morning:

06/20/2013
07:02 am EDT
CBS This Morning

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 (voice-over) (teaser): The IRS is caught in another controversy. The agency says it has to pay $70 million in union bonuses.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS (from anti-IRS rally): We need to abolish the IRS, and together, we can get it done. (audience cheers and applauds)


07:17 am EDT

NORAH O'DONNELL: 'The Hill' says Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is criticizing IRS bonuses. The tax agency says it is legally required to hand out $70 million in additional compensation. Grassley believes the bonuses are not allowed while the government deals with massive automatic spending cuts.


08:00 am EDT

GAYLE KING (teaser): The IRS is under fire again. This time, it's paying $70 million in employee bonuses, despite a White House order.


08:04 am EDT

[CBS News Graphic: "Bonus Despite Budget Cuts: IRS Paying Out Awards Despite Freeze"]

CHARLIE ROSE: Senate Republicans want to know why the Internal Revenue Service is set to pay $70 million in employee bonuses. Two months ago, after automatic spending cuts kicked in, the White House told federal agencies to cancel all bonuses.

GAYLE KING: That order was written by Danny Werfel, who is now the acting head of the IRS. A statement says the IRS is 'under a legal obligation to comply with its collective bargaining agreement'. The agency is already under fire for targeting conservative groups asking for tax-exempt status.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.