ABC & NBC Spike Hearings; Even New York Times Finds Newsworthiness
The MRC on Wednesday launched
a daily one-page fax report titled "Media Reality Check: A Daily
Report on the Media's Coverage of the Campaign Finance Scandal
Hearings." It's largely a compressed version of CyberAlert
targeted at those without e-mail. Put together by Tim Graham based
upon CyberAlert and the morning show logging completed by the MRC's
Steve Kaminski, Geoffrey Dickens and Gene Eliasen, it's distributed
just past noon on days after hearings. We cannot afford to offer this
to everyone, but if you are in the media and would find a same day
review of the morning shows useful, please send your name, affiliation
and fax number to Kristina Sewell: firstname.lastname@example.org
- CBS This
Morning and NBC's Today skipped the hearings Wednesday morning.
CBS hasn't uttered a word about them since July 9.
brought news at Huang's boss at Commerce considered him
"totally unqualified," but both ABC's World News Tonight
and NBC Nightly News ignored the hearings. ABC has yet to show a
- A rundown of
who is showing the hearings on cable and via the Web.
- The New York
Times decried those who claimed "there was nothing to be
learned from these hearings." Like their own news pages?
1) What if they held
hearings, and no reporters covered them? That happened with the
television networks on Wednesday. Two of the three networks skipped
the hearings in the morning and the evening. Let's start with the
-- ABC's Good Morning
America, MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen reported, ran a two sentence
item read by news reader Elizabeth Vargas, during the 7:30am news
update, on the 1992 Huang donation and how Democrats would now return
it. This brief citation made GMA the only morning show to actually
mention the hearings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
-- CBS This Morning once
again ignored the hearings on Wednesday. As MRC news analyst Steve
Kaminski pointed out, that's the fifth day in a row without a word
about the hearings on the CBS morning show which last mentioned them
on Wednesday, July 9, the morning after the opening statements. This
Morning, which ran several stories and an interview segment on the
Versace murder, managed to find time to show Jane Robelot and Mark
McEwen learning to tango.
-- NBC's Today, for the
second of three mornings this week, couldn't find time to tell viewers
anything about the hearings. But MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens
pointed out that Today dedicated the entire 7am half hour to three
interview segments on the Versace murder and much of the 7:30 half
hour to the man fired for sexual harassment for talking about the
Seinfeld episode revolving around Jerry trying to remember his
girlfriend's name which he knew rhymed with a part of the female
anatomy. The man won his wrongful dismissal suit. (The woman's name:
2) A big day of hearings with
testimony from about ten witnesses, but neither ABC's World News
Tonight or NBC Nightly News told viewers a syllable about any of it.
Only the CBS Evening News ran a story.
Just before 5pm ET on
Wednesday, CNN's Brooks Jackson told Judy Woodruff what we learned
from Wednesday's witnesses:
"A rather interesting day, actually, slow at times but the
Republicans are building a circumstantial case understand. I think
they've shown that John Huang got a patronage job at the White House
by virtue of his being an active fundraiser in 1992....We've shown
that his superior at the Department of Commerce considered him
unqualified for the job, so he got into a job that he might not have
gotten if it had not been for that fundraising. And we're learning
that he had access to quite sensitive classified information. Of
course we knew that, but we're getting that in somewhat more detail
now from the CIA briefers."
CNN's Prime News carried a
full report from Candy Crowley mentioning all those elements and
emphasizing how the Commerce Department failed to perform a background
check on Huang.
Here's how broadcast network
coverage, or lack here of it, went Wednesday night, July 16:
-- CBS Evening News. After
two stories on Versace and serial killer Andrew Cunanan and a piece of
the stock market's Dow Jones hitting 8000, Dan Rather noted that at
the hearings "the focus of attention: John Huang." Bob
Schieffer opened his story:
"The committee bored in
on how Huang wound up in a sensitive Commerce Department job that gave
him access to highly-classified trade secrets. His old boss conceded
Huang didn't get there on expertise."
CBS ran a soundbite of
Jeffrey Garten declaring Huang "totally unqualified" for the
job those above Garten made sure he landed.
Schieffer also reported that
"CIA officials testified from behind a security screen that Huang
got plenty of trade secrets in his government post," before
ending by explaining that the Senate committee is investigating a
hand-written note then DNC chairman Don Fowler faxed to Mack McLarty
in 1995 which said the party had to raise $4 million within 14 days.
The fax "listed a group of oil company executives and asked
McLarty to call some of these people and ask them for $25,000. Federal
law prohibits such fundraising by White House employees,"
Schieffer asserted before concluding by saying that McLarty denies
getting the memo.
-- NBC Nightly News and ABC's
World News Tonight spiked the hearings. Let me allow you to play
editor and evaluate their Wednesday night story line-ups so you can
judge whether all the pieces they ran were more newsworthy than the
NBC Nightly News:
- Versace/Andrew Cunanan
- profile of suspected
serial killer Cunanan
- stock market Dow Jones
- who benefits from stock
- Bill Gates is the richest
man in world
- Mir health of cosmonaut
- Army General Henry Shelton
to be Chief of JCS
- In Depth on Cunanan. FBI
challenge in catching a serial killer
- JonBenet Ramsey parents
- new drug to relieve
- Safest and most dangerous
states crime wise
- man fired for sexual
harassment for joking about Seinfeld episode about a woman's name,
wins his wrongful dismissal lawsuit.
ABC's World News Tonight:
- Versace/Cunanan murder
- profile of Cunanan's gay
life in California
- Versace's business empire
after his death, will it survive?
- Mir update
- Shelton picked
- Korean DMZ gun
battle/starvation in North Korea
- UN Secretary General to
cut UN budget
- NAACP annual convention.
Courting new generation. Trying to find new issues to press,
re-thinking school integration
- Inflation at just 1.4
percent this year.
- Dow Jones closes above
- Virginia Beach teller gave
bank robber bills with dye pack which ignites. Man stuffed into
his pants and it exploded, burning his pants. Last seen fleeing in
- SBA loan applicants only
asked if ever convicted of a crime. "No" answers never
- FDA approved an implant
- Casting for Recovery.
Fly-fishing program for breast cancer victims.
World News Tonight's lack
of coverage means that if you watched every WNT since the hearings
began you would yet to have seen one second of video of any
Updating the ABC rundown
which appeared in the last two CyberAlerts, here's how ABC's World
News Tonight has "covered" the hearings so far:
Monday, July 7:
Tuesday, July 8: Unlike CBS and NBC, ABC does not lead with
hearings, instead airing two stories on the Fen Phen diet drug.
Wednesday, July 9: Led with poll showing Clinton with a
high approval rating. The story mentioned the hearings, but did
not include any soundbites from witness Richard Sullivan.
Thursday, July 10: Devoted 41 seconds to Senator Sam
Brownback mimicking a Chinese dialect, but just 23 seconds to a
vague hearings update.
Friday, July 11: nothing
Saturday, July 12: no story
Sunday, July 13: Story on how John Glenn insisted that Fred
Thompson's Chinese influence charge is not supported by the FBI
and a story on "why average Americans seem to be paying so
little attention to the campaign finance hearings."
Monday, July 14: nothing
Tuesday, July 15: 26 seconds on John Huang funneling a
foreign donation to the DNC in 1992. Nothing correcting the Sunday
story on Thompson by noting that Lieberman now agrees with
Thompson's China comments.
Wednesday, July 16: zilch
3) Who is showing the
hearings on TV and on the Web.
-- MSNBC. On Wednesday, as on Tuesday, MSNBC didn't offer any live
coverage, just occasional live updates from Joe Johns. On
Wednesday, live coverage of a press conference by police on the
Versace murder cut MSNBC's usual 4:30pm Money Trail review of the
day down to a five minute piece at about 4:52pm ET.
-- CNN. For the first
time since last Wednesday, on Wednesday, July 16 CNN actually
showed some live testimony. From just after 4pm ET until the
Versace press conference at about 4:30pm, CNN aired the hearings.
After Versace, CNN ran a full review of the day from Candy Crowley
and Brooks Jackson (see Jackson in item #2 above).
-- Fox News Channel
promised to run continuous coverage, minus news updates and ads. I
have no reason to doubt they are, but I can't see it.
-- NET and C-SPAN.
National Empowerment Television is running the hearings live all
day, as is C-SPAN3 for those with satellite access or serviced by
one of the limited number of cable providers carrying either
channel. C-SPAN's Wednesday night re-play began just past midnight
ET, but C-SPAN2 carried a few hours of hearings earlier in the
-- On the Web. I've been
told the direct address I gave yesterday for Fox News video
doesn't work, but I'm sure anyone interested figured out how to
find the video service. Forget the direct address, go to: http://www.foxnews.com
and then click on "video." Fox News offers both video
and audio only of its cable signal.
CNN's AllPolitics site
with Time magazine offers live video and audio of the hearings. Go
http://allpolitics.com/gaveltogavel .Then pick "Live
Coverage" to watch the hearings via "Vxtreme streaming
video." (With AllPolitics there's no need for the www in the
MSNBC claims to offer
audio of the hearings at its Web site:
http://www.msnbc.com . But good luck finding it. I couldn't.
Bill Gates may be worth $41 billion, but he can't create a decent
news Web site that approaches CNN or Fox News. MSNBC.com is the
shallowest, most convoluted, slow to load, and illogically
designed news site I've ever encountered. At least that's my
4) Referring to the
revelation at Tuesday's hearing that the Lippo Group reimbursed
John Huang for a 1992 $50,000 donation to the DNC, a July 16 New
York Times editorial declared:
"So much for the
commentators who spent last weekend assuring the country that
there was nothing to be learned from these hearings. The fact is
that every time the Senate Government Affairs Committee can get a
straight answer or a fresh document, another $50,000 or $100,000
wire transfer from Asia turns up."
Who could the Times be
referring to? How about to their own news staff? MRC news analyst
Clay Waters recalled a July 13 Sunday "Week in Review"
story. The headline: "A Scandal Falls Victim to Its Own
Even the New York Times
editorial page writers find the hearings of interest. How far to
the left must that place the network producers who don't?