When FNC's Bill O'Reilly brought up "ABC News's coverage of this Rush Limbaugh/Fluke situation" on Wednesday's The O'Reilly Factor, guest George Stephanopoulos not only misled FNC viewers about ABC coverage by focusing only on how much time his weekday edition of Good Morning America devoted to the story while ignoring other ABC shows like World News and the weekend edition of GMA, but he even substantially understated the amount of time his own weekday GMA show spent on the controversy.
He also failed to mention that he repeatedly brought up the story as he hosted Sunday's This Week on ABC.
Referring to GMA, Stephanopoulos claimed that he only included the story on Friday and Monday - with only about one and half minutes on Friday and "another follow-up on Monday morning," asserting, "We didn't obsess over this in any way, shape or form. We pretty much covered what was going on."
But reality was substantially different from the ABC host's recollection.
GMA gave attention to the story every day from Friday through Tuesday, with Friday, Monday and Tuesday being days Stephanopoulos was co-hosting. A total of more than eight minutes were spent on the Limbaugh story during the days Stephanopoulos was co-hosting GMA.
Friday's GMA devoted three minutes to the matter, which included a full report of two minutes, 40 seconds, along with 20 seconds of preview discussion at the beginning of the show between Stephanopoulos and co-host Robin Roberts.
Monday's GMA devoted two minutes and 50 seconds to the story, which included nearly all of a report plus a half minute of discussion with ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd.
Tuesday's GMA included another full report lasting two minutes and 20 seconds.
The Stephanopoulos-free weekend edition of GMA ran a full report on Saturday and a brief update on Sunday.
On Sunday's This Week program, host Stephanopoulos brought up the story with two guests - Democrat David Axelrod and Republican Newt Gingrich - and included the matter in the Roundtable discussion later in the show, totaling about eight minutes of discussion.
As for World News, the ABC evening show ran a full report on Friday, a brief update on Saturday, and another full report on Monday. The controversy was mentioned again on Tuesday's World News within a report.
From Tuesday: “Onslaught: ABC Airs Eight Limbaugh Stories in Less Than Five Days ”
Below are both video and a transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, March 7, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
Well, I mean, Rush Limbaugh has a huge audience. He gets headlines. It became such an issue that he had to apologize for it, and this was after we picked it up after the pressure already began.
And, you know, I should also add we didn't do all that much on this. I think we did a minute and a half piece on Friday morning and another follow up on Monday morning. And that was it - no guests. We didn't obsess over this in any way, shape or form. We pretty much covered what was going on.
-- Brad Wilmouth is a News Analyst for the MRC's News Analysis Division