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ABC, CBS & NBC Wait Four Days to Report Obama's 'You Didn't Build That' Attack on Business

When Barack Obama insulted job creators everywhere, last Friday, by charging: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen," the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks didn’t pounce on the politically damaging remark. It took four days and Romney making it the centerpiece of his speech on Tuesday before the first network mention - by Peter Alexander on Tuesday evening’s NBC Nightly News. In fact, Obama’s soundbite was run exactly once, in the aforementioned Alexander report. Neither CBS or ABC ran Obama’s actual quote.

However, when former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, on Tuesday, said he wished Obama "would learn how to be an American" NBC jumped to report the story on the very same day on that evening’s Nightly News. CBS got to the Sununu remark on Wednesday’s This Morning. ABC’s World News and Good Morning America have yet to mention the Sununu statement.

Both NBC and CBS used Sununu to bury Romney’s attack on Obama’s "you didn’t build that" charge. After Alexander relayed Romney’s criticisms of Obama, he reported: "The Romney campaign is fighting to redirect the debate, away from his tax returns and tenure at Bain Capital" with "Romney surrogate John Sununu briefly" changing the subject "but not the way he intended." After playing a clip of Sununu saying, "I wish this president would learn how to be an American," Alexander noted he was forced "to clarify" his statement then included a dig from an Team Obama: "An Obama campaign spokeswoman weighed in writing, ‘The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end.’"

On Wednesday morning’s Today show Alexander reported on "a fiery Mitt Romney" accusing the president of "being anti-entrepreneur" but then later noted: "Romney surrogate John Sununu tried to hammer the President on the same theme...but Sununu may have overshot his target."

Over on Wednesday’s CBS This Morning, Dean Reynolds noted: "Romney tried to turn the conversation back to the economy, saying it's hurting because of what he suggested was the President's hostility to business." After playing a soundbite from Romney, Reynolds undercut the GOP challenger’s argument: "But his point was overshadowed all day, after Romney supporter and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu tried to push the argument with words that questioned Mr. Obama's patriotism." After the Sununu soundbite Reynolds slammed: "It was the kind of statement usually emanating from the political fringe, and Sununu apologized within hours. But it was another off-message distraction, as Romney struggled to gain the upper hand, turn the spotlight on Mr. Obama, and talk about something other than how much or little he paid in taxes."

ABC has yet to run a clip of Obama’s anti-business rant. Instead Josh Elliott, on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, could only offer this vague recounting of the most recent campaign fight: "The latest attacks between the two stem from the President's comments that business owners alone are not responsible for their successes. Romney called that an insult. Meantime, Romney is under increasing pressure to release more of his tax returns amidst relentless questioning about his financial dealings."

The following are the relevant transcripts from ABC, NBC and CBS evening and morning shows:

NBC Nightly News

July 17, 2012

PETER ALEXANDER: An unusually animated Mitt Romney today seized on some of President Obama's own words, charging that they reveal an anti-business bias.

MITT ROMNEY: If you want to understand why his policies have failed, why what he has done has not created jobs or rising incomes in America, you can look at what he said.

ALEXANDER: What did the President say? While outlining his vision of American progress as a partnership between business and government last Friday, he included this line.

BARACK OBAMA: If you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen.

ALEXANDER: With both sides angling for any advantage, Romney today pounced.

ROMNEY: To say something like that is not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it's wrong.

ALEXANDER: And he added this about the President's view of the role of government services in economic development.

ROMNEY: We pay for those things, alright? The taxpayers pay for government.

ALEXANDER: The Romney campaign is fighting to redirect the debate, away from his tax returns and tenure at Bain Capital.

NARRATOR [OBAMA AD]: Tax havens, offshore accounts, carried interest. Mitt Romney has used every trick in the book.

ALEXANDER: Romney surrogate John Sununu briefly changed the subject today, but not the way he intended.

JOHN SUNUNU: I wish this president would learn how to be an American.

ALEXANDER: Challenged by reporters, Sununu later tried to clarify.

SUNUNU: The president has to learn the American formula for creating business.

ALEXANDER: Still, an Obama campaign spokeswoman weighed in, writing, "The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end."

...

NBC's Today

July 18, 2012

PETER ALEXANDER: In Pennsylvania Tuesday, a fiery Mitt Romney accused the President of being anti-entrepreneur.

ROMNEY: To say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motor, that – that Papa John didn't build Papa John pizza.

ALEXANDER: Romney surrogate John Sununu tried to hammer the President on the same theme.

JOHN SUNUNU: The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build these businesses...it is the American way.

ALEXANDER: But Sununu may have overshot his target.

SUNUNU: I wish this president would learn how to be an American.

ALEXANDER: Team Obama quickly pounced, writing, "The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end."

SUNUNU: I probably was a little bit too harsh there. That's not the best choice of words, but the message was clear. This President doesn't understand the American free enterprise system.

...

CBS This Morning

July 18, 2012

DEAN REYNOLDS (voice-over): In Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Romney tried to turn the conversation back to the economy, saying it's hurting because of what he suggested was the President's hostility to business.

ROMNEY: Look, President Obama attacks success, and therefore, under President Obama, we have less success. And I will change that. (audience cheers and applauds)

REYNOLDS: But his point was overshadowed all day, after Romney supporter and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu tried to push the argument with words that questioned Mr. Obama's patriotism.

JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY SENIOR ADVISOR: I wish this president would learn how to be an American.

REYNOLDS: It was the kind of statement usually emanating from the political fringe, and Sununu apologized within hours. But it was another off-message distraction, as Romney struggled to gain the upper hand, turn the spotlight on Mr. Obama, and talk about something other than how much or little he paid in taxes.