In less than 48 hours, ABC, CBS and NBC deluged viewers with coverage of Chris Christie's traffic jam scandal, devoting a staggering 88 minutes to the story. In comparison, these same news outlets over the last six months have allowed a scant two minutes for the latest on Barack Obama's Internal Revenue Service scandal. The disparity in less than two days is 44-to-one. [See a chart below.]
From Wednesday through Friday morning, the latest on Christie's Traffic-Gate led 11 out of 13 news programs. NBC produced the heaviest coverage, over 34 minutes. CBS followed close behind with more than 30 minutes. ABC came in third with just under 23 minutes.
Over the last six months, NBC featured a meager five seconds on IRS targeting of Tea Party organizations. CBS allowed a minute and 41 seconds. ABC managed a mere 22 seconds.
The scandal exploded onto the media radar, Wednesday, when it was revealed that lane closures on the George Washington bridge last fall were as a because of political payback from the Christie administration. The resulting traffic jam caused a massive back-up.
NBC's Today on Friday opened with a graphic that announced "the crisis grows." Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell underscored, "The crisis feeds into critics' perceptions that Christie fosters hardball tactics."
On ABC's Good Morning America, Jim Avila ramped up the danger level, announcing "it was Governor Chris Christie's worst day in politics ever." He labeled Thursday's press conference a "political walk of shame" for the Republican.
On CBS This Morning, journalist Elaine Quijano saw it as "the biggest test yet of Christie's political career."
That may well be true, but a major scandal involving political targeting by Obama's IRS resulted in near media silence and a complete lack of hyperbolic, shocked language by reporters.
It wasn't as though there were a lack of potential IRS stories to follow-up on. In December, House investigator Darrell Issa announced that the FBI and IRS chief counsel is stonewalling the investigation.
In October, newly obtained e-mails showed that the scandal-plagued Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the controversy, illegally gave Tea Party tax info to the FEC. Lerner retired from the IRS In September, but the networks skipped that. (For more, see a report by the Media Research Center. )
The accusations and revelations about the Christie administration's orchestrating and handling of a man-made traffic jam certainly warrant media attention. However, the same journalists who have jumped all over a scandal involving a potential Republican candidate in 2016 don't seem interested in the IRS scandal involving the current Democratic president.
(For the totals of the the Christie scandal as of Thursday morning, go here. )
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.