President Clinton's post-impeachment press conferences sound more like friendly bull sessions in the faculty lounge than the dodge-the-beanball approach of the Reagan years. Yesterday, not a single reporter asked Clinton about former Justice Department investigator Charles LaBella's long memo arguing the President and Vice President received preferential treatment in the DNC fundraising scandal. But it's just a small part of a continuing scandal blackout among the broadcast networks and news magazines:
E-mail Hide and Seek. One reporter asked yesterday if the White House had a computer disk with Monica Lewinsky's e-mails. But what about the growing scandal surrounding 100,000 e-mails the White House failed to turn over to Congress despite a subpoena?
Coverage? The story, first revealed last year by Insight magazine, broke through last Thursday with a congressional hearing and a Justice Department pledge to investigate, but nothing's been done on the broadcast networks in nearly a week. Last Thursday, CBS aired one Bob Schieffer story, but ABC gave it only 20 seconds, NBC 16. The next morning, ABC's Good Morning America gave it 17 seconds. The missing e-mails drew only two paragraphs in this week's U.S. News, one in Time, and zero in Newsweek.
Air Hillary. Also last Thursday, a House Appropriations subcommittee released a report showing that Hillary Rodham Clinton's trips to New York on military aircraft last year for her Senate campaign cost more than $182,000 over a seven-month period, with taxpayers footing 80 percent of the bills. In a separate study that counted more trips over a longer period of time, the Republican National Committee found flights by "Mrs. Clinton and her entourage" into and around New York cost $905,000, with taxpayers getting back only about 3 cents on the dollar.
Coverage? Unlike the network drubbing administered to Bush chief of staff John Sununu for taking military planes in 1991, the Air Hillary story drew only one NBC Nightly News story by Andrea Mitchell and two sentences late in a Time article this week. ABC, CBS, Newsweek, and U.S. News ignored it. Nobody asked Clinton about it yesterday.
Coelho's Party in Portugal. On Friday, National Journal magazine reported that State Department investigators are conducting a criminal inquiry into Gore campaign manager Tony Coelho. Investigators found numerous financial irregularities when Coelho was head of the U.S. exhibition at the World's Fair in Portugal in 1998. While Coelho listed a net worth of more than $10 million in his disclosure forms, he leased an $18,000-a-month apartment at taxpayer expense in Portugal.
Coverage? Nothing on the broadcast networks. Coelho drew two paragraphs in U.S. News, two in Time, and zero in Newsweek. Nobody asked Clinton about this yesterday.
Willey Should Have E-Mailed. Yesterday, Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that the White House release of Kathleen Willey's hand-written notes to Clinton after her interview on 60 Minutes last March charging the President with sexual harassment was "a criminal violation of the Privacy Act."
Coverage? Last night, ABC carried only 19 seconds, CBS 29, NBC 18, CNN's The World Today 28, and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, 23. This morning, ABC's Good Morning America aired 29 seconds, but CBS and NBC offered nothing. The scandals may never stop, but these outlets keep suppressing them. - Tim Graham