No Equal Time for Hillary's Opponents

While Hearings Suffer, Networks Play Up "Child Care Crisis" with No Time for Conservative Views

Yesterday, Senators wondered why the second page of a memo from White House Counsel Charles Ruff asking for materials on White House coffees (like videotapes) had never gotten to directors at the White House Communications Agency. In addition, 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole offered to testify, while the President's aides said he would not appear.

CNN and MSNBC both ran no live hearings coverage, but aired almost four hours of live testimony in a Massachusetts murder trial of a nanny. The evening shows gave 47 seconds to fundraising, but they all covered the White House child care conference. None allowed any counterpoint from conservative experts, including the Cato Institute's Darcy Olsen, whose report came out yesterday (see pa-285es.html).

Evening news, October 23:

ABC's World News Tonight gave 19 seconds to how Thompson invited Dole and Clinton to testify, but the White House said "no chance" on Clinton. (ABC said nothing about Clinton's pledge to "cooperate fully.") Reporter John Donvan focused on the child-care problems of a mom in Reston, Virginia, and concluded: "The White House says that parents have to pressure their bosses and their communities to make child care better, more available and less expensive."

CBS Evening News ignored the Senate hearings completely, but put the nanny trial right before their day care story under the Dan Rather question "Who's watching America's children?" Reporter Scott Pelley focused on a poor mom's reliance on child-care subsidies.

NBC Nightly News carried a 28-second brief on Thompson's invitation to Dole and Clinton, but no mention of Clinton's response. NBC led with the "child care crisis" [see box]. David Bloom profiled another family of day-care victims and suggested Clinton needed to provide government action, not just talk. Their "In Their Own Words" feature focused on an American living in France touting the tax-heavy socialist child-care system there.

CNN's The World Today ignored the Thompson hearings, but reporter Pierre Thomas filed a report on the grand jury investigation of the corrupt Teamsters election, including their questioning of Sen. Bob Kerrey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Morning shows, October 24:

On ABC, Good Morning America news anchor Kevin Newman briefly noted two developments this morning: newly released phone records show Clinton made seven calls to donors from the White House in 1994, and Dole challenged Clinton to testify at the Thompson hearings.

CBS This Morning aired nothing, but featured the nanny trial, Marv Albert, Halloween decorating, and two women poking fun at the World Series.

NBC's Today ignored fundraising, but for the second day in a row, they featured the story of a just-released 18-year-old sex offender in Waterloo, Iowa, whose parents live across the street from an elementary school. National scandals may not fly with network "focus groups" of regular folks, but local scandals are a growing trend in "national" newscasts. - Tim Graham and Brent Baker