The Los Angeles Times published a big scoop on Friday: pieces of an internal Justice Department memo by former special counsel Charles LaBella.
LaBella charged Attorney General Janet Reno with employing an "intellectually dishonest" double standards to prevent investigation of 1996 campaign fundraising by Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Al Gore and aide Harold Ickes. But the Big Three networks filled their Friday night newscasts with anything else:
ABC's World News Tonight led with what anchor Charles Gibson warned was the "most dramatic evidence yet" of how humans alter the environment, a study in Science magazine on how pollution reduces rainfall. ABC's second story: How a Centers for Disease Control report found the media overhyped the flu epidemic. ABC also filed full reports on floods in Mozambique, Allstate Insurance practices, and an FAA dispute in Louisville.
CBS Evening News opened with House passage of a $1 hike in the minimum wage combined with tax cuts for small business. Ray Brady came next, promoting a crusader for a "living wage" without using the term "liberal." Other full stories included the FAA's new plan to reduce storm-related delays and cancellations; a brewing bribery scandal at the Illinois Secretary of State's office; the ease of getting prescription drugs from overseas via the Internet; a Maryland plan to allow cameras in nursing homes to discourage abuse; and how scientists study weather atop New Hampshire's Mount Washington.
NBC Nightly News began with the FAA's plan to reduce flight delays followed by a look at rising gas prices. NBC's "In Depth" explored the minimum wage. Next, NBC discovered the scandal of how restaurants charge more for meals than the food components cost. NBC's other full-length pieces dealt with security concerns for Clinton's trip to Pakistan, a profile of an American missionary in Mozambique, and a "Home of the Brave" piece by Tom Brokaw on a woman who finally met a man who was with her husband when he died in World War II.
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams echoed NBC's FAA and gas prices stories. Anchor Forrest Sawyer also did interviews on Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's effort to curb racial quotas, the Reform Party, and what to do with the six-year-old Michigan shooter.
CNN and FNC both led with multiple stories Friday on the LaBella memo on CNN's The World Today and FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. (FNC's lighter 7 PM Fox Report carried one story on LaBella.)
ABC and NBC each filed campaign stories Saturday night, but with no mention of the LaBella memo. (CBS Evening News didn't air in most Eastern and Central time zone affiliates on Saturday, but a Nexis search found reporter Mark Knoller mentioned LaBella for Western time zones.) On ABC Sunday night, Terry Moran reported Gore is "trying to inoculate himself" against GOP charges on campaign "reform," but ABC still ignored LaBella.
How can the networks claim McCain voters want campaign "reform" and cite polls showing Gore is "trusted" more on the issue, and then ignore every new story on Gore's 1996 fundraising? The Justice Department isn't the only group with intellectually dishonest double standards. - Brent Baker and Tim Graham