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NBC Slams GOP for 'Unfortunate Image' of Religious Freedom Hearing 'Dominated by Men'

On Friday's NBC Today, substitute co-host Savannah Guthrie eagerly touted liberal talking points attacking a hearing held by House Republicans over the controversial ObamaCare contraception mandate on Thursday: "[They] held a hearing on the matter and Democrats got a lot of mileage out the fact that, that first panel of witnesses was all men."

On to discuss the political fallout, Meet the Press host David Gregory concluded: "You look at a scene like yesterday and it just underscores the fact that not only government, but our religious institutions, are dominated by men. It was an unfortunate image to put out there." Guthrie added: "...maybe Republicans stepped into it a little bit on that."

After Guthrie cited a derisive tweet from Nancy Pelosi condemning the GOP for "having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel," Gregory voiced his agreement with the left-wing framing of the issue: "I think Nancy Pelosi underscores the point for a lot of women in the country that this is not about birth control, that contraception today, as you well know, is much more about women's health and is prescribed much more widely than just birth control."

At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams did his part in promoting the Democratic line of attack: "What's wrong with this picture? The image that's getting a lot of attention and outrage. Tonight, the exploding disconnect involving women, birth control and politics."

Later, in a full report on the supposed controversy, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell announced to viewers: "The politics of contraception provoked outrage today....This picture set off that anger, when only men had a seat at the witness table during a hearing related to contraception."

Introducing the report, Williams remarked: "Today a congressional hearing about contraception got heated. Lawmakers got angry because of what was missing."

Well, let's take a look at what was "missing" from the NBC News coverage. While O'Donnell included several sound bites of Democrats and Republicans at the hearing, she failed to make any mention of Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly berating the religious leaders who appeared, calling their testimony "shameful" and accusing Republicans of using "Stalinist-like tactics."

Why didn't Williams and O'Donnell describe the "outrage" over those offensive comments?

Surprisingly, ABC and CBS hardly touched the issue. ABC's Thursday World News did not cover the story and Friday's Good Morning America only featured a news brief, with news anchor Josh Elliot reporting:

New political drama, meanwhile, surrounding that controversial plan to require health insurance companies to cover contraception, even for religious institutions. Congressional Republicans hosted two hearings, Tuesday, but no women were invited to the first one and the only women at the second hearing opposed the President's birth control mandate, prompting Democrats to walk out in protest.   

CBS did not cover the hearing at all on Thursday's Evening News or Friday's This Morning.

Here is a portion of Guthrie's February 17 exchange with Gregory:

7:08AM ET

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And then yesterday, House Republicans held a hearing on the matter and Democrats got a lot of mileage out the fact that, that first panel of witnesses was all men. Here's what Nancy Pelosi had to say, quote, "Imagine, they're having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel. Duh!" You know what strikes me about this, David, neither Republicans nor Democrats seem very anxious to move on from this issue in an election year that's supposed to be about the economy.

GREGORY: Well, I think that's the important point. And I think that on both sides they're itching for this fight. Republicans see this as not just a women's health issue, as a matter of fact, they'd rather de-emphasize that. They see it as a religious freedom issue, they see it as a role of government, government making decisions about health care for Americans. That energizes a lot of conservatives around the country who think that the government has intruded into our lives too much.

But I think Nancy Pelosi underscores the point for a lot of women in the country that this is not about birth control, that contraception today, as you well know, is much more about women's health and is prescribed much more widely than just birth control. You look at a scene like yesterday and it just underscores the fact that not only government, but our religious institutions, are dominated by men. It was an unfortunate image to put out there.

GUTHRIE: Well, and maybe Republicans stepped into it a little bit on that.

(...)

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.