The addition of House hearings to Senate hearings on the fundraising scandal might cause one to suspect that media coverage would have to double. In the House, Charlie Trie's sister testified she and a friend, Joseph Landon, made donations to the DNC and were illegally reimbursed, in part from a bank in China. (The witnesses asked not to be videotaped.) The Senate returned to its first witness, ex-DNC Finance Chairman Richard Sullivan, and fellow fundraiser Mark Thomann on the Teamsters-DNC connection. But instead of doubling their efforts, the networks gave no sign they sent reporters to either hearing. Coverage was almost totally missing. Neither CNN nor MSNBC offered live coverage yesterday.
Evening news, October 9:
ABC's World News Tonight led with fundraising for the second night in a row. Peter Jennings announced: "Tonight we have come upon a videotape in which President Ronald Reagan seems to be clearly lobbying for money at a donors meeting in the White House." [See box.]
Brian Ross made ABC the first Big Three network to cover the September 18 guilty pleas of three figures in the fraudulent Teamster election. Ross included 17 seconds on the Senate hearings, the totality of Big Three Senate coverage of the night.
CBS Evening News featured a report on Attorney General Janet Reno from Scott Pelley at the White House, and then 20 minutes into the newscast, reporter Eric Engberg denounced the Senators investigating Clinton. "Individual members of the committee have a certain familiarity with the shenanigans they're denouncing." Engberg ran down a list of charges: Carl Levin (D-Mich.) took $715 from James Riady; Max Cleland (D-Ga.) used state workers to track his supporters when he was Georgia's Secretary of State; Don Nickles (R-Okla.) signed a letter offering GOP donors the chance to meet then-Vice President Dan Quayle at his residence; and Bob Smith (R-N.H.) made fundraising phone calls from his Senate office. Engberg ended: "When it comes down to sniffing out the breakdown of a system created to police money and politics, this committee, like many places on Capitol Hill, could easily start by setting up a great big mirror."
NBC Nightly News aired nothing on the House or Senate hearings, and gave only 24 seconds to the Attorney General declaring she was "mad" at White House delays. But NBC followed that with a full David Bloom story on Clinton praising gun manufacturers for agreeing to include childproof safety locks when their guns are sold.
CNN's The World Today included a Wolf Blitzer report on Reno and the Reagan tape. After a brief on the Senate hearing, Bob Franken made CNN the only network to mention the House hearing.
Morning shows, October 10:
ABC's Good Morning America only aired one anchor brief - on the Reagan videotape.
NBC's Today aired two briefs combining the Reno and Reagan stories. Both ABC and NBC aired reports on the latest Versace fashion show.
Instead of covering the hearings, CBSThis Morning co-host Mark McEwen danced with purple PBS kiddie star Barney the Dinosaur. That's appropriate: PBS has said it won't provide fundraising hearings coverage to "public" stations since the stations would rather air their kiddie shows.- Tim Graham and Brent Baker