CBS This Morning on Tuesday was the only network program to show an interest in the "massive" spending of the "seriously flawed" farm bill. Not only did reporter Sharyl Atkisson investigate the legislation moving through the Senate, she repeatedly featured Tom Schatz of the Citizens for Government Waste.
Attkisson explained how the group has identified spending in the bill which will "actually hurt consumers." The journalist mentioned the "new 15 cent fee on every live cut Christmas tree sold to create a board to promoting Christmas trees." She continued, "The bill also increases spending to $200 million a year for a program to promote agriculture and past years's tax dollars were used to pay for a reality TV show in India to promote cotton." [MP3 audio here.] Neither NBC's Today, nor ABC's Good Morning America found time for this story.
Instead, GMA's serious journalists spent almost three minutes on whether couples watching romantic comedies can rescue marriages. Over four minutes, Today searched for the best anti-aging cream that won't "break the bank."
In contrast, CBS This Morning offered a serious discussion of wasteful spending:
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Also in this bill, $100 million to promote the maple syrup industry. The new bill will renew funding for a controversial catfish import inspection office, even though there's one just like it at the FDA. Critics say the duplication will waste $170 million over the ten years. And the bill maintains a controversial program Schatz says benefits the richest one percent of sugar producers.
TOM SCHATZ (Citizens Against Government Waste): The sugar program is a Soviet-style command and control system that keeps the sugar artificially high. It prevents the import of most low cost sugar from around the world. It raises prices for consumers two to three times the world price.
On Monday's evening newscasts, CBS was again alone in covering excess pork. NBC's Nightly News and ABC's World News ignored it.
An analysis by the Media Research Center's Julia Seymour found that since January 1, 2013, "ABC, CBS and NBC network news programs only mentioned the farm bill "in 20 reports. The vast majority (16 stories) of those reports aired on CBS."