Now that the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee fundraising hearings have gone on hiatus (with 49 seconds of notice between ABC and CBS), the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee becomes a new site for hearings news. But the House panel's intitial hearings a month ago drew no notice from ABC or NBC, despite charges that Bill Clinton offered praise to an Asian candidate in 1992 for a $50,000 donation.
Today, the Government Reform and Oversight panel takes up White House stonewalling with Counsel Charles Ruff and other witnesses. While Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) has been scorned as a "zealot" in many national media outlets, the partisan exploits of the committee's ranking Democrat, liberal Henry Waxman, have gone ignored entirely. [See box.]
Yesterday, a House Commerce subcommittee chaired by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) held hearings on Molten Metal Technology, a Massachusetts firm that won a $1.2 million Energy Department research contract from the Bush administration that swelled to $33 million under the Clinton administration. The firm, represented by lobbyist Peter Knight, chairman of the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, made numerous contributions to the Democrats within days of new Energy Department contract agreements. Despite print scoops on the case, the broadcast networks have avoided this story.
Evening news, November 5:
ABC's World News Tonight led with a tough investigative piece by Sam Donaldson charging acting IRS Commissioner Michael Dolan had signed a report on widespread IRS abuses well before he claimed to be surprised by testimony in recent congressional hearings.
CBS Evening News led with Iraq, with Dan Rather noting Clinton "made a concession" to Saddam Hussein by suspending reconnaissance flights.
Tom Brokaw began NBC Nightly News with this Iraq spin: "The delicate game of talking tough, but taking no military action, not yet, against Saddam Hussein continues tonight."
CNN's Inside Politics carried a Brooks Jackson report on the Molten Metal hearing, but there was no replay of Jackson on The World Today.
Morning shows, November 6:
None offered an update on the Molten Metal hearing or a preview of the Burton hearings this morning, but all three interviewed defense lawyers for convicted nanny Louise Woodward.
ABC's Good Morning America carried an anchor brief at 8:30 on the Reform Party lawsuit against Republicans and Democrats charging violations of soft-money laws in last year's campaign.
CBSThis Morning did preview one congressional hearing: Senator Sam Brownback's hearing today on violent lyrics from rock groups like Marilyn Manson.
On NBC, Today co-host Matt Lauer joined George Bush in touring his new presidential library, which opens today. News anchor Ann Curry did offer a brief on the strange turn in the Whitewater case: a check made out to Bill Clinton for $27,000 from Jim McDougal's Madison Savings and Loan was found in the trunk of an abandoned car. - Tim Graham and Brent Baker