NBC, CBS Finally Discover Ugly Attack on Ann Romney, Highlight GOP 'Gender Gap'

NBC and CBS's evening and morning shows on Thursday and Friday finally discovered the ugly comments made by a Democratic operative against Ann Romney. After skipping the story Thursday morning, CBS Evening News reporters did their best to minimize it. Correspondent Nancy Cordes insisted that Hillary Rosen, who knocked Mrs. Romney for "never working," made sure to stress that the woman "is not connected to the Obama campaign, but Republicans called out the campaign anyway."

Anchor Scott Pelley offered a similarly dismissive attitude: "Democrats and Republicans tripped over one another to see who could denounce with the most force what most everyone agrees was a dumb comment from a single pundit." Cordes pointed out an 18 point lead (among women) Barack Obama enjoys over Romney in one poll. On Friday's Good Morning America, reporter John Berman stressed this theme: "...Mitt Romney trails the President by 19 points among women. 19 points."

On Thursday's World News, reporter Jake Tapper also highlighted the gender gap. However, unlike CBS, he did not try and minimize Rosen's role in Democratic politics, noting that she "has ties to the White House. Here she is attending a recent White House state dinner."

NBC, while slow to discover the story, found it to be a serious problem for the President. Nightly News anchor Brian Williams intoned, "As we said, this is likely not a one-day story, and it's certainly not just a Washington story."

Reporter Chris Jansing identified, "Maria Smith is a suburban Atlanta stay-at-home mom of three, with a fourth on the way. She considers herself a liberal. But was shocked when she heard Hilary Rosen's comments."

Jansing featured a second voice, Kelly Wallace of iVilliage, who insisted, "This debate totally resonates."

On Friday's Today, Carl Quintanilla deemed it a "political storm over the role of women." However, Andrea Mitchell echoed the claim that Mitt Romney is in deep trouble, "But Mitt Romney is far behind, facing a yawning gender gap that could doom his campaign, if not fixed. Romney has been relying on his wife."

CBS This Morning on Friday saw a "gender canyon" for Romney and that the "debate is far from over."

A transcript of the April 12 CBS Evening News segment follows:

SCOTT PELLEY: In the presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are fighting hard for the votes of women, and with good reason. Women are likely to decide the election. Four years ago 53 percent of the votes were cast by women, and 56 percent of them went for Mr. Obama. And that explains all of the gnashing of teeth in Washington today. Democrats and Republicans tripped over one another to see who could denounce with the most force what most everyone agrees was a dumb comment from a single pundit. Nancy Cordes has the story.

NANCY CORDES: It started when Democratic commentator Hilary Rosen said Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, had no experience in the working world.

HILARY ROSEN: Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's-- she's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.

CORDES: Rosen is not connected to the Obama campaign, but Republicans called out the campaign anyway. Romney's senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said the remarks insult hardworking moms. Democrats quickly distanced themselves from Rosen. Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina said she should apologize. Even First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in, tweeting that every mother works hard and every woman deserves to be respected. Ann Romney herself, who normally avoids controversies, had this to say.

ANN ROMNEY: My career choice was to be a mother, and I think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that women make.

CORDES: Republicans have been looking for a way to win back women after damaging fights this winter over insurance coverage for contraception, and funding for Planned Parenthood. A recent "USA Today" Gallup poll found President Obama led Romney by 18 points among women. So Romney has been spending more time talking about his wife, calling her his sounding board.

MITT ROMNEY: She reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy. And getting good jobs for their kids. And for themselves.

CORDES: This week, he repeatedly argued that the president has failed working women.

ROMNEY: This is an amazing statistic. The percentage of jobs lost by women in the president's three years, three and a half years, 92.3 percent of all the jobs lost during the Obama years have been lost by women. 92.3 percent.

CORDES: The White House pointed out today that one of the President's first acts was to sign the law promoting equal pay for women, a law they note, Scott, many Republicans in Congress opposed.

PELLEY: Thanks, Nancy. You know, we asked our research department today to look into Governor Romney's statement that 92 percent of the jobs lost since the president took office in January of '09 were held by women. Numbers from the Labor Department show that is true. But if you go back to the start of the recession in '07, the number changes dramatically, only 36 percent of the jobs lost since then were held by women. 64 percent were held by men. Speaking of jobs, we got some unwelcome news today in the latest unemployment report. There was a rise in the number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week. 380,000 applied, which is up 13,000 from the week before, and that may mean that hiring is slowing.

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.