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ABC's GMA, NBC's Today Fail to Report Susan Rice's Now-Disputed Claims About Libya Consulate Attack

ABC's Good Morning America hasn't once reported on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's claim on the September 16 edition of This Week that the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was "a spontaneous - not a pre-meditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo." Even worse, the morning show hasn't reported on the subsequent developments on the consulate attack over the past 12 days that cast doubt on Ambassador Rice's statement.

NBC's Today show also hasn't covered Rice's talking points on the attack, after she appeared on Meet the Press on the same day as her This Week appearance. News reader Natalie Morales merely reported on September 19 that "the White House says there is currently no evidence that last week's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned and pre-meditated. Officials say it appears that the violence was sparked by that anti-Islam film made in the U.S." Two days later, Morales gave an update on how "the White House is now classifying the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack....But intelligence officials now believe it was a planned attack in the guise of a protest."

Both of those programs provided voluminous coverage of Romney's "47%" tape, but have no time to scrutinize the Obama administration's public statements about an incident that claimed the life of an American ambassador?

Ten days after Rice's Meet the Press appearance, the Today show played Ann Curry's pre-recorded interview of Libya President Mohammed Magarief on September 26. Curry asked, "Would you call the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi an act of terrorism?" Magarief answered that it was a "pre-planned act of terrorism directed against American citizens" and that the controversial movie about Islam's prophet Mohammed had nothing to do with the attack. However, the NBC correspondent didn't once mention the U.N. ambassador's statements from the Sunday morning show.

The ABC and NBC morning shows' omission of Rice stands in stark contrast to the two network's evening newscasts, which not only covered the U.N. ambassador's claims, but as well as subsequent developments. On September 16's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin played a clip of Ambassador Rice stating that "what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially, a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo." Mohyeldin then added that "Libya's president had a different assessment, saying this was a pre-planned assault with foreign help, possibly from al Qaeda."

The same evening, on World News, ABC's Lama Hasan reported that "the Libyan president saying the attack was planned by foreign fighters linked to al Qaeda, who'd entered the country months ago." Anchor David Muir then noted that "on ABC's This Week, the US Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, would not go that far, saying the investigation continues, and that, so far, there is no indication of a planned attack....Ambassador Rice went on to say that the protest then – quote, 'seems to have been hijacked by extremists', who descended on the compound and attacked with heavier weapons."

The following evening, correspondent Lisa Myers pointed out that "U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice claimed there was a strong security presence at the consulate....But multiple U.S. officials and other sources contradict that account. They tell NBC News that the two former SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who died while trying to repel the attackers and who, undoubtedly, saved lives, and were not in Libya to provide personal security for the ambassador or for consulate personnel."

On the September 20 edition of NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams led the broadcast by reporting that "the storming at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in Libya is being labeled an act of terrorism by the White House. That was not the initial story, and some in government have given conflicting versions for what happened there that night." NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell soon added that "intelligence officials now believe it could have been a planned attack all along, masquerading as a protest. But after the killings, the administration blamed it on protests sparked by the anti-Islamist video." She then played the clip of Ambassador Rice's claim from Meet the Press.

The same evening, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl highlighted that "the White House today for the first time called the assault on the consulate a terrorist attack. But there are mounting questions about how it all happened....The administration has suggested there was no advanced warning because the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Muslim video that sparked protests in Egypt last week....Republicans say that's just not right." Karl's report included Rice's "spontaneous, not  pre-meditated" statement from September 16's This Week.

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