CBS, ABC Highlight Obama 'Flip-Flop' on Super PACs; NBC Punts

CBS This Morning on Tuesday led its broadcast with the Obama re-election campaign's decision on Monday night to reverse its opposition to super PAC fundraising. Charlie Rose teased the report by noting how "the White House...flip-flops on controversial super PAC donations." ABC's Jake Tapper used the same term on Good Morning America. NBC's Today show completely ignored this breaking development.

During his report on the CBS morning show, correspondent Bill Plante highlighted President Obama's "denunciation of that Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited fundraising" and played a clip from his 2010 State of the Union address where he ripped the Citizens United decision in the presence of several of the justices who handed it down.

The correspondent also pointed out that "it's not also the first time that the President has reversed himself on fundraising. You may remember that in 2008, he said that he would take public funding, then he changed his mind."

Just over a week earlier, on the January 31 edition of CBS This Morning, correspondent Armen Keteyian actually blasted the possible influence of super PACs in the coming presidential campaign: "You know, this is a tidal wave, and I think what's going to happen to is this is by far the most expensive [election], but it's the most negative, and it's really going to become I think the most slimy."

On Good Morning America, Tapper noted the Obama's campaign's about-face at the end of a report on the growing controversy between the administration and the Catholic Church over a mandate for contraception and abortifacient coverage without a co-pay in health plans:

TAPPER: And one other bit of breaking news overnight, Robin. Having to do with the Obama campaign and super PACs. Those are the third-party groups that can accept unlimited donations that have been flooding the air waves with negative ads. Originally, the Obama campaign said they would have nothing to do with super PACs. But, last night, they flip-flopped on the issue, saying that Republican super PACs are doing too much advertising. they have to compete and now have top cabinet officials, campaign officials and White House officials helping to raise funds for a Democratic super PAC.

Just after the top of the 8 am Eastern hour, ABC news anchor Josh Elliott gave a brief on the new policy, but didn't use the "flip-flop" term that Rose and Tapper both used:

ELLIOTT: Meantime, President Obama's campaign is reversing its position on so-called super PACs, those are third party groups that can accept unlimited campaign donations and flood the airwaves with their message. Now, the campaign is urging supporters to support a Democratic super PAC, despite the President's criticism of those groups in the past.

NBC's Today show on Tuesday didn't cover the Obama campaign story at all.

The full transcript of Bill Plante's report on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, which aired two minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:

CHARLIE ROSE: Last night, for the first time, President Obama's re-election campaign began asking major contributors to give money to a super PAC that supports the President.

ERICA HILL: And that marks a dramatic change in policy for the President.

We want to bring in now senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, who has more on this for us. Bill, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Reversing Course: Obama Campaign Flip-Flops On Super PAC Funding"]

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Erica. Well, late last night, the President's campaign manager signaled that they're going after the big money, too. They're shopping for contributions to the super PACs. The campaign's officials and the White House officials will appear at fundraisers for Priorities USA. That's the super PAC that backs the President- although the First Lady and the President will not be part of that effort. And this isn't surprising, given the fact that super PACs supporting Republicans have raised more than $50 million already.

But it's not also the first time that the President has reversed himself on fundraising. You may remember that in 2008, he said that he would take public funding, then he changed his mind. But this time, it comes after his denunciation of that Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited fundraising. Here's what he said in his State of the Union message last year.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from 2010 State of the Union address): I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

PLANTE: Okay, that was from 2010. And today, in an e-mail, the President's campaign manager, Jim Messina, says we are not going to unilaterally disarm in this election cycle. Charlie?

[CBS News Graphic: "Obama/Biden: 'We decided to do this because we can't afford for the work you're doing in your communities, and the grassroots donations you give to support it, to be destroyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads.'"]

ROSE: Bill, thank you very much. There's also this question: the Obama campaign has returned a donation that was been made because of a link to a fugitive. Did they know anything about this link when they took the money?

[CBS News Graphic: "Donor Controversy: Obama Campaign Returns 200K"]

PLANTE: No, the campaign says that they had no idea where that money came from. They said they do scrub their donations, but they don't catch everything right away. The two brothers of a fellow known as Juan Jose Rojas Cardona- also known as 'Pepe,' who's a casino owner and is wanted on drug charges- the two brothers donated about $200,000 to the campaign. And, of course, the campaign has now returned that, and they've said that- hey, we do make every effort to make sure that our donations are right, and if they're not, we send them back.

HILL: All right, Bill. Thanks.

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