The House voted to pass two immigration measures on Thursday, but both ABC and CBS completely omitted that information from their nightly news programs.
On "NBC Nightly News," anchor Lester Holt dedicated just 26 seconds to the story after leading his program with a three minute segment on President Trump's tweets about Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, according to a survey of the coverage conducted by the conservative Media Research Center.
One of the immigration reform bills voted on by the House, Kate's Law, passed with bipartisan support, a newsworthy development amid heightened partisanship in Washington. The bill also touches a topic about which people have very strong feelings. Although it's unlikely the legislation will survive a vote in the Senate, the decision by two of the three major networks simply to blow it off is somewhat remarkable. The law passed more than an hour before either broadcast aired, a development that had been widely anticipated all week.
Kate's Law is named after 32-year-old woman Kate Steinle who was murdered in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant with several previous deportations and felony convictions. It was a key campaign policy pledge of President Trump's campaign. Steinle's murder had been a major national news story during the summer of 2015.
In contrast, the evening news programs for ABC and CBS dedicated more than three minutes and more than five minutes, respectively, to covering Trump's tweets about the hosts of Morning Joe, according to MRC. Clearly, the programs had at least a few seconds to spare for the passage of immigration reform legislation. They chose not to.
Millions of viewers around the country still depend on nightly news programs to keep them informed on developments in Washington, a task that requires more respect for political balance than these networks are willing to muster. That number has long been in decline — and given editorial decisions like these, perhaps that's a good thing if we're hoping to have a well-informed voting population.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.