Cunanan Frenzy Buries Fundraising Again

The catch phrase "If it bleeds, it leads" is no longer just a local-news mantra. While the networks dwelled on serial killer Andrew Cunanan's manhunt and suicide, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee made a bipartisan move yesterday, voting 15-1 to grant limited immunity to four Buddhist nuns and 13-3 to grant it to Keshi Zhan, an alleged "pass-through" donor of Charlie Trie. Even Democrats expressed their displeasure with the Clinton Justice Department. Senators also took up GOP connections to Hong Kong donor Ambrose Young. But ABC and NBC did nothing last night, and ABC and CBS aired nothing this morning.

Evening shows, July 23:

ABC's World News Tonight hasn't mentioned fundraising since last Friday. They led with three stories on Cunanan, and also covered the health benefits of folic acid, the reopening of an Oakland freeway that collapsed in the 1989 earthquake, and a New York exhibit of drawings with one continuous line.

NBC Nightly News had four Cunanan stories, but no fundraising update. (See box.)

CBS Evening News made the hearings its number two story. Dan Rather announced: "The Senate hearings on campaign fundraising shifted gears today to focus on possible, if not probable, abuses by Republicans." Instead of noting the Democratic votes for immunity, Rather suggested "the Republicans took some action of their own today." Bob Schieffer never announced the bipartisan vote counts, glossing over the Democratic votes by simply stating "the committee" voted for immunity. He underlined: "Justice Department officials argued the immunity grants might interfere with future prosecutions, but Republicans suspect Justice is just trying to spare the Vice President future embarrassment, and they're hot about it."

CNN's Prime News (at 8 PM ET) aired another thorough story by Candy Crowley.

Morning shows, July 24:

NBC's Today sent co-host Matt Lauer to Miami, but also aired its first fundraising report in eight days - in the second hour. Lisa Myers echoed the New York Times front-page story this morning on Clinton personally requesting donors' numbers to call: "Documents obtained by NBC News suggest strongly that the dialing for dollars was far more extensive than the White House has admitted."

ABC's Good Morning America sent co-host Charlie Gibson to Miami, but did nothing on the Times story or any other fundraising angle.

CBS This Morning ignored the hearings for the eleventh weekday morning in a row. In addition to five interviews on Cunanan's death, CBS aired two long segments on this morning's announcement of the Emmy nominations. For news value, Garry Shandling trumps Bill Clinton. - Tim Graham & Brent Baker