Broadcast networks’ flagship news programs have yet to report on text messages between then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Republican lawmakers Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chip Roy (R-TX), in which they strategized ways to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of then-President Donald Trump. Among newspapers, only 2 of the top 5 U.S. newspapers have covered the story in their print editions so far.
Last Friday, CNN reported on and published text messages exchanged between Lee and Meadows and Roy and Meadows in the weeks and months after the 2020 presidential election. The revelations come on the heels of reports that conversative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, -- who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- sent texts to Meadows to the same end.
The messages from Lee and Roy, which span from just days after the 2020 election up to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, included Lee trying to assist discredited pro-Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell in getting access to Trump, promoting an episode of Fox News personality Mark Levin's featuring elaborate election disinformation, and boasting about hours of work he did calling state legislatures to give the election to Trump. For his part, Roy pushed for conservative legal scholar John Eastman’s further involvement. (Eastman is a key player in the January 6 Capitol attack and is still trying to overturn the 2020 election.)
But regular viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and This Week; CBS’ Mornings, Evening News, and Face the Nation; and NBC’s Today, Nightly News, and Meet the Press would not know about this story. As of publishing, the major broadcast news networks have not reported or mentioned the story on their flagship news programs.
In fact, NBC’s late-night news satire show Late Night with Seth Meyers was the only program we could identify that discussed the texts at all on April 19, which should be embarrassing for any hard news show on these networks.
Of the top 5 U.S. newspapers -- The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times -- only the New York Times and the Post have published stories on the texts in their print editions.
This isn’t the first time broadcast news has ignored scandalous stories after Trump left office. Last September, the networks failed to report on the Eastman memo, which essentially outlined a plan for a coup d’etat that relied on false claims of voter fraud to provide a pretext for then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electors of certain states in order to hand the election to Trump. The same networks also provided a mere 28 minutes of coverage to the news that Trump was involved in potentially criminal handling of official government records, which included classified material, by moving 15 boxes of documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida during the presidential transition.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original episodes of ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and This Week; CBS’ Mornings, Evening News, and Face the Nation; and NBC’s Today, Nightly News, and Meet the Press for any of the terms “Meadows,” “Lee,” or “Roy” from April 15, 2022, though April 18, 2022. We also searched articles in the Factiva database for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today for any of the terms “Meadows,” “Lee,” or “Roy” in the headline or lead paragraph from April 15, 2022, through April 18, 2022.