ABC and NBC Anything But Fast and Furious On Gunwalking Scandal

Deaths, guns, whistle-blowers and the highest law officer in the land stonewalling a congressional investigation are the juicy ingredients of a story network news reporters would love to cover – if a Republican were in office. However, when Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Thursday (February 2) before a House oversight committee investigating Operation Fast and Furious, the news was completely ignored by NBC and ABC (there was one full story on Friday's CBS This Morning). The virtual blackout of Holder's testimony continues an overall trend of ABC and NBC burying one of the Obama administration's biggest scandals, despite continual coverage by their competitors at CBS, CNN and Fox News.

MRC analysts reviewed the Big Three network evening and morning news shows and found that while CBS aired 29 stories and 1 brief on Fast and Furious, ABC aired only one brief on the June 15, 2011 edition of Good Morning America. That was still better than what NBC did on their morning and evening news programs, as the gunwalking story has never been mentioned on either NBC Nightly News or the Today show. NBC's Miguel Almaguer, in a report primarily about a Mexican mother accusing border patrol agents of killing her 17-year old son as he tried to scale a wall, did note that "In December, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with bandits." However, Almaguer never tied the Terry killing back to the gunwalking scandal.

It should be noted Chris Hansen, on the April 17, 2011 edition of NBC's magazine show Dateline, did report that the ATF "as part of an undercover operation, actually allowed hundreds of guns to be smuggled to the Mexican drug cartels." However, Hansen never linked Holder to the operation or even mentioned Terry's name.

Hansen's failure to mention Terry's name is particularly galling considering his mother, Josephine has repeatedly demanded Holder apologize for her son's death, most recently after Thursday's hearing as she called the Attorney General a "coward." Josephine Terry is not being granted the same cause celeb status that the networks gave George W. Bush harasser Cindy Sheehan.

Only one reporter, Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News, has truly cared to cover the story, even in the face of being briefly benched after the White House complained. Attkisson, who broke the gunwalking story back on the February 23, 2011 Evening News, routinely reported the hot stories ABC and NBC wouldn't touch. The following is a timeline of those key stories and how they were covered by CBS, ABC and NBC:

# February 23, 2011 CBS Evening News:

SHARYL ATTKISSON: "December 14, 2010, the place, a dangerous smuggling route in Arizona, not far from the border. A special tactical border squad was on patrol when gunfire broke out and agent Brian Terry, shown here in a training exercise, was killed....The assault rifles found at the murder, similar to these, were traced back to a U.S. gun shop. Where they came from and how they got there is a scandal so large, some insiders say it surpasses the shoot- out at Ruby Ridge and the deadly siege at Waco."

Coverage on ABC and NBC that week: 0 stories

# March 3, 2011 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: "Making an accusation that could cost him his job, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms claims the agency has a policy that is actually putting guns in the cartel's hands. Here's investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson."
ATTKISSON: "...[John] Dodson's job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen...Now he's risking his job to go public...Agent Dodson and other insiders say the gun-walking strategy was approved all the way to the Justice Department."

Coverage on ABC and NBC that week: 0 stories

# March 27, 2011 CBS Evening News:

ATTKISSON: "ATF sources say they were told the controversial operation called Fast and Furious in late 2009 through January this year was to try to gain intelligence to take down a cartel. President Obama was asked about the case in an interview with Univision Network."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "Well, first of all, I did not authorize it. Eric Holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it...."

ATTKISSON: "But Darren Gill insists somebody in the Justice Department did know. He was the lead ATF official in Mexico when his supervisor in Washington told him Fast and Furious was approved beyond ATF Director Kenneth Melson."

Coverage on ABC and NBC that week: 0 stories

# June 10, 2011 CBS's The Early Show:

CHRIS WRAGGE: "Congress held its first hearings Monday on the gun walker scandal that CBS News first uncovered back in February."

Coverage on ABC and NBC of hearings that week: 0 stories

# June 24, 2011 CBS's The Early Show:

JEFF GLOR: "This morning, the highly criticized ATF gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious is being linked to another murder..."

ATTKISSON: "Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez was kidnapped in October...Rodriguez was the brother of attorney general for the Mexican state of Chihuahua and his body was found a month later. CBS News has confirmed that two AK-47 variant assault rifles were among weapons found at the shootout with suspects, rifles from ATF's controversial Fast and Furious operation."

ABC and NBC coverage that week: 0 stories

# August 31, 2011 CBS's The Early Show:

JAN CRAWFORD: "Now to a big development in the government`s highly controversial operation Fast and Furious. Three top officials involved in a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms operation are out of their jobs. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has been all over this story. She broke it for us at CBS News earlier this year, she is in Washington with the latest. Good morning, Sharyl."

ATTKISSON: "Good morning, Jan. It is a major shakeup in the case where federal agents allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers from Mexican drug cartels...ATF top man Kenneth Melson is out so are U S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, he resigned yesterday and Burke`s deputy in Phoenix, Emory Hurley, he`s been transferred out of the criminal division-all three played a role overseeing the controversial case called Fast and Furious."

ABC and NBC coverage that week : 0 stories

# October 3, 2011 CBS Evening News:

BOB SCHIEFFER: "When the government's so called 'Fast and Furious' program was created, the idea was to allow illegal guns to be shipped into Mexico so investigators could be traced into where they were going and get a better handle on where Mexico's criminal cartels were operating. The program has been a disaster. The guns have been linked to killings of Mexican officials and now it appears that Attorney General Eric Holder knew a lot more about it than he recently told congress. Here's Sharyl Attkisson."

ATTKISSON: "New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial fast and furious operation as far back as July, 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to congress. Listen to what Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing on May third this year."

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: "I'm not sure of the exact date but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."

ATTKISSON: "Yet internal justice department documents show at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious."

ABC and NBC coverage that week : 0 stories

# October 7, 2011 CBS's The Early Show:

WRAGGE: "At his news conference on Thursday, President Obama defended Attorney General Eric Holder, whose accused of misleading Congress about when he first learned of the ATF program known as Fast and Furious."

ABC and NBC coverage that week : 0 stories

# November 8, 2011 CBS Evening News:

ATTKISSON: "For the first time, Attorney General Holder made the difficult admission to Congress."

HOLDER: "Any instance of so-called gun walking is simply unacceptable. Regrettably, this tactic was used as part of 'Fast and Furious.'"

ATTKISSON: "That also means a letter Holder's office sent Congress last February denying gun walking was wrong."

ABC and NBC coverage that week : 0 stories

# December 8, 2011 CBS's The Early Show:

JEFF GLOR: "Attorney General Eric Holder goes to Capitol Hill this morning to be questioned by House Committee over Operation Fast and Furious."

ABC and NBC coverage that week : 0 stories

# February 3, 2012 CBS's This Morning:

ERICA HILL: "Some tense moments on Capitol Hill between House Republicans and Attorney General Eric Holder. They were arguing over that controversial gunrunning operation that was first exposed by CBS News. Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes was there for the fireworks and they were certainly flying."

ABC and NBC coverage that week : 0 stories

Attkisson's dogged coverage of Fast and Furious over the past year should have shamed her competitors into sending in their own reporters to dig into the story. The fact that ABC and NBC still won't touch it, along with a plethora of other Obama failings, demonstrates how far in the tank the liberal media are in for this President's re-election.

- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.