TV Anger Dwells on Lott, Not Clinton
Network anger flowed last night and this morning about fundraising, but it was directed at Republicans instead of the Clinton White House. Anchors denounced the Senate's failure to pass the McCain-Feingold bill, but did not express outrage over the White House's stonewalling of a subpoena for any videotapes relevant to the Senate fundraising investigation. All three networks led with fundraising, and all the morning shows touched on it today. CNN and MSNBC both provided substantial live coverage yesterday.
Evening news, October 7:
On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings complained: "We begin tonight with stalemate in the Senate.The majority thwarted. Politics prevails. Campaign finance reform, which the public wants, dead as a doornail, all of the above. After many months of talking about it, the first real effort to reform how campaigns for federal office are financed, the push to get some of the big money out of election campaigns has gone nowhere." Later, Jennings added: "Now let's turn to getting money out of politics. In the full Senate today, campaign finance reform never had a chance."
Dan Rather began the CBS Evening News: "Legislation in Congress to reform campaign fundraising is dead, at least for now. It was killed in key votes spearheaded by Republicans today in the Senate. This happened as the political rhetoric turned hotter and nastier, with Republicans charging the White House coffee videotapes are a grounds for a special prosecutor. CBS's Phil Jones begins our coverage of hot talk and no action on campaign cash." Rather later returned to the sore subject: "When all was said and done on campaign fundraising reform in the Senate today, all was said but nothing was done."
Tom Brokaw led off NBC Nightly News: "It was showdown time on Capitol Hill today on the issue of campaign fundraising. There was a sharp escalation in the personal and political attacks, the kind of language we have not heard in Washington for some time. Words and phrases like presidential responsibility and cover-up. Challenges to the integrity of the Attorney General. At the same time, the chances of real reform of campaign fundraising are diminishing with every passing hour." NBC's Lisa Myers contributed a story on how DNC-contributing Indian tribes got a proposed Indian casino competitor in Wisconsin shut down by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
CNN's The World Today led with three fundraising reports, but none editorialized about McCain-Feingold.
Morning shows, October 8:
ABC's Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson interviewed Sen. John McCain: "It was a strange juxtaposition yesterday. You've got this committee documenting campaign finance abuses, and then you've got the full Senate preserving the system that led to those abuses. What's going on?"
CBS This Morning had a Bill Plante report in its first hour, but no interview segment.
NBC's Today featured a heated Katie Couric interview with Sens. Arlen Specter and Robert Torricelli [see box] - the first morning show interview of Senate investigators. But the interview dwelled on campaign finance "reform." - Tim Graham and Brent Baker