ABC and NBC Ignore Possible Obstruction of Justice in Growing VA Scandal

Wednesday's morning shows on ABC and NBC ignored the latest details of the growing scandal engulfing the Veterans Affairs department. Only CBS bothered to report on the story, allowing a scant 20 seconds. This Morning co-anchor Gayle King revealed, "USA Today says the VA scandal now includes obstruction of justice allegations. Ninety three health care facilities are being investigated by the VA's inspector general." [MP3 audio here.]

She added that the "Justice Department and FBI are joining this probe." USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya wrote, "The report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General said 93 VA health care sites across the country are being investigated in connection with falsifying scheduling records to hide delays in veterans' health care and 'attempting to obstruct OIG (Office of Inspector General) and other investigative efforts.'"

USA Today explained: 

Investigators found thousands of veterans in the Phoenix hospital who were not being seen by doctors and whose names were kept on secret lists to hide them from official records that might reflect scheduling delays. The VA has since worked to contact nearly all veterans whose care was delayed to either get them to a VA physician or pay for their care by private doctors.


The report outlined 45 cases of shabby treatment and delays for veterans at Phoenix. Among them: staff trying to set up a promised appointment for a veteran three months after he died; coronary bypass surgery done on a veteran in his 60s five months late because no cardiology appointment was ever scheduled; after 10 months of delay, a veteran in his 40s who feared he had skin cancer was finally examined and the lesions found to be benign; another in his 70s tested likely for prostate cancer but waited 11 months before a biopsy led to a diagnosis.

ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today found no time for the latest developments. Instead, GMA devoted two minutes to the superficial topic of "celebrating stretch marks." Similarly, instead of investigating what the new report means for veterans, Today, a four hour program, spent five minutes on the best makeup that will "conceal problem areas." 

On Tuesday night, the NBC Nightly News allowed 45 seconds. Guest host Lester Holt chose to highlight the part of the report that "found no conclusive evidence that delays in care caused deaths of veterans at the VA hospital in Phoenix." CBS managed a full report. ABC's World News skipped the story, just as the network would do on Wednesday morning. 

A July 2014 analysis by the Media Research Center found that coverage of the VA scandal dropped off 84 percent in June. 

A transcript of the August 27 CBS This Morning segment is below: 


GAYLE KING: USA Today says the VA scandal now includes obstruction of justice allegations. Ninety three health care facilities are being investigated by the VA’s inspector general. The Justice Department and FBI are also joining this probe. At issue, whether workers at VA centers who falsified scheduling records were getting in the way of investigators. 

— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.