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Nightline in 1987 Decries Media Obsession With Crime; Nightline in 2013 Hypes O.J. and Skimps on IRS

On Wednesday night, the journalists at Nightline allowed a mere 31 seconds to the exploding scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservatives. This was after anchor Terry Moran introduced stories on O.J. Simpson's latest trial, one on determining your "Klout score" and the new reality TV show Ice Cold Cold.

On Thursday night, the program focused on pop singer Demi Lovato's problems and clowns.

The disinterest Nightline is showing towards Barack Obama's scandals, including the IRS, the AP controversy and Benghazi, contrasts to how the show's journalists viewed scandal when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. On November 17, 1987, then-correspondent Jeff Greenfield lectured the media for not covering Iran-Contra enough. Speaking of a report on the controversy, Greenfield huffed, "It is, after all, not about a sex or drug scandal or dramatic crime. It is instead about how a great nation defends its vital interests while keeping faith with its highest values."  Obsessed only with crime? Sounds like a good critique of ABC and Nightline in 2013.

He added, "The report also raises, unintentionally, another issue: the attention span of the media and the American public. Within a few days, this once-dominant story will most likely be shunted onto the back pages of our newspapers."

At 1:05am ET, in early hours of May 16, Moran noted, "A lot of Americans see [the IRS controversy] as a scandalous effort to silence conservatives. So, what do you think? Did the IRS carry out a politically motivated attack or was this violation spawned by a few bad apples?"

A scandalous effort? Wouldn't that warrant more than 31 seconds? Perhaps instead of a  full report on Klout scores? On Thursday night, none of Obama's scandals came up at all.

Moran seems interested in serious news-- just not on his TV show. A look at his Twitter page will prove that. It must be frustrating to have important stories constrained only to the web. Quite the fall for the once-prestigious Nightline. Apparently, clowns and O.J. Simpson are what the program's hosts are now interested in.

A transcript of the May 15 Nightline brief on the IRS is below:

1:05am ET

31 seconds

TERRY MORAN: Now, tonight's "closing argument." Today, President Obama announced the resignation of acting IRS head Steven Miller and vowed to get bottom of reports that IRS officials targeted conservative organizations when determining whether or not to grant them tax exempt status. A lot of Americans see this as a scandalous effort to silence conservatives. So, what do you think? Did the IRS carry out a politically motivated attack or was this violation spawned by a few bad apples? Weigh in at the Nightline Facebook page or tweet us at Terry Moran. Thanks for watching.

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.