Wednesday's congressional hearings on the September 11 terrorists attacks in Benghazi provided a stark contrast between Fox News Channel and MSNBC. From the time the whistleblower testimony began at 11:36am through their conclusion after 5pm, FNC devoted 108 minutes to simply airing the hearing with no anchor commentary. MSNBC, in comparison didn't allow any live coverage. Instead, the cable network aired a scant five minutes and 20 seconds of taped snippets of testimony.
CNN came in second, allowing a mere 17 minutes of footage. After the 2pm hour, CNN lost all interest, instead the network's anchors eagerly promoted the coming verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial. (FNC's reporting on the story after 2pm dropped off to five minutes of taped footage.) The hearings commenced at 11:36 and so did Fox's coverage. CNN waited until noon to break in and MSNBC came in last at 12:17 (with a taped report and discussion only).
[The time totals relate to live coverage of the actual hearings, not journalists talking over them. MSNBC devoted much of the 12pm hour to Libya, but Now host Alex Wagner and her guests skeptically discussed the witnesses.]
The networks did not break into regular programming during the day, instead they stuck to The Price is Right, soap operas and other shows.
CBSNews.com recounted the damning assertions of witnesses, such as Libya's former deputy chief of Mission Greg Hicks:
According to Hicks, "everybody in the mission" believed it was an act of terror "from the get-go." But on Sept. 16 - five days after the attack - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hit the Sunday show circuit, peddling the theory that the strike began "spontaneously" out of protests in Egypt and was not a premeditated terrorist act. Rice's spot on "Face the Nation" that day was preceded by the new president of Libya, Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had "no doubt that this was pre-planned, predetermined."
"I've never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day," Hicks told investigators of Rice's appearances.
Will Wednesday's evening newscasts and Thursday's morning shows cover these serious developments or stick with sensational crime stories, such as the Arias murder trial?
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.