CBS fails to mention Ivanka’s new role in White House

On March 29, NBC spent almost three-and-a-half minutes explaining Ivanka Trump’s new role in the White House. The network showed her saying previously that she wouldn’t take on an official role but only be a daughter. In contrast, ABC spent about 35 seconds on this announcement, while CBS didn’t mention it at all.

NBC anchor Lester Holt began the broadcast: “Ivanka Trump’s recently announced informal role in her father’s White House is about to become a formal job, despite her proclamations during the campaign that she had no desire to be a part of the administration.”

Holt further pointed out that since John Eisenhower no children have worked in their father’s administration. Trump, he said, will be joining her husband, Jared Kushner, in the White House.

NBC News Screenshot, March 29

ABC anchor David Muir showed beside Angela Merkel, saying that raised questions of Trump’s role in the administration. Correspondent Jonathan Karl explained that she won’t take a salary and will be held to the same ethical standards as a government employee.

CBS presented a two-minute story on First Lady Melania Trump’s recent appearance in D.C. Reporter Jan Crawford said, “The president’s daughter Ivanka has picked up some of the traditional [first lady] duties.” There was no mention of Ivanka’s new role.

Former executive producer Mark Nelson said this missing detail was an important story.

“CBS in my opinion made a mistake by not reporting this. There was news in the fact that Ivanka Trump became an unpaid advisor. There’s news in the fact that as an unpaid advisor, she has stake in a Trump hotel just down the street from the White House,” said Nelson. “She and her husband are independently wealthy now and she has other businesses as well that are reliant on Trump.”

However, former ABC News correspondent John Martin didn’t think CBS missed the mark.

“I don’t fault CBS News for skipping the story; without taking time to explain the potential significance in depth, it seems to me it’s better to move on to other news while digging deeper for another night,” Martin wrote in an email.

Additionally, NBC led with the Ivanka Trump story, while the other networks both led with aspects of the investigation into Russian meddling.

Muir began: “The Congressman under scrutiny – even some members of his own party now wondering if he can truly lead an independent investigation into Russian meddling and any possible collusion.”

Similarly, CBS anchor Scott Pelley started: “We’ve known for some time that the Russians meddled in the U.S. presidential election but today we got a chilling account of one of the tactics used.”

Should NBC have led with the Russia story as the other two networks did, or was it right to begin with Ivanka’s new job?

Nelson said he thought both were viable options, but personally would have started with Russia because of the weight of the country’s actions.

“I’ve weighed the value of each story and I said, if I were the executive producer of NBC, could I have made a case for leading with [the Ivanka] story? Yes. Would I have done it? No,” Nelson said.

NBC News Screenshot, March 29

Martin thought NBC missed some important elements that the public needs to know, including what is at stake for taxpayers.

“I applaud any effort to dig deeper into any public issue and NBC News’s segment seemed aimed at going beyond the surface,” Martin said. “Unfortunately, I think it failed the test. What’s missing?  The why – why is Ivanka Trump’s status change important? And how – how might it lead to or prevent a conflict of interest? And what, specifically what Trump family holdings might be in conflict with the public interest?”

More from John Martin:

  • I thought ABC News’s solution was adequate. Jonathan Karl noted that she would be subject to the same conflict of interest rules as any other federal employee, raising the issue of potential conflicts.

More from Mark Nelson:

  • NBC had a solid lead by laying out all of the issues and ethical concerns of her new unpaid White House job.  Now the President will now have three family members – daughter Ivanka; son-in-law, Jared Kushner and First Lady Melania – working closely by his side in the White House.  
  • I have no problem with ABC and CBS leading with the ongoing and very important Russia Spying Investigation, which has been the lead or in the first block of most newscasts for sometime. A good case can be made for leading with either story on that particular day. Show producers and anchors make judgement calls like this almost daily. But I am curious why CBS had no mention in its newscast of Ivanka’s new role as advisor to the president.
  • All day long, we’ve been hearing about both stories. And you’ve got to be living in a cocoon in this world today not to know what’s going on by the time the evening news comes on.

Jacqueline Hyman

Jacqueline Hyman is a junior multi-platform journalism and English double major at the University of Maryland. She is the editor-in-chief of the Mitzpeh, the independent student-run publication catering to the campus Jewish community. This past summer, she was an intern at Washington Gardener Magazine. Previously, she was the opinion editor for Mitzpeh for two years and was a copy editor at both Unwind and the Writer’s Bloc on campus. Jacqueline hopes to go into editing professionally for several years before becoming an English (and maybe journalism) high school teacher. She can be contacted at or via Twitter @jacqbh58.

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