Who Makes or Breaks a Scandal?

The Cox Report vs. The Iran-Contra Report

Conclusion: Who needs this scandal?

In the stories that do touch on Chinagate and the Cox Report, network journalists have left the distinct impression that they’re disappointed this story has to be done, that Chinese espionage has to be made an issue on which this administration should be held accountable.

On the November 17, 1987 Nightline, then-ABC reporter Jeff Greenfield concluded his summary of the congressional Iran-Contra probe by decrying the media’s expected failure to keep riding the Iran-Contra story to the end with the same intensity it had shown for the previous year: "The report also raises, unintentionally, another issue: the attention span of the media and the American public. Within a few days, this once-dominant story will most likely be shunted onto the back pages of our newspapers. It is after all not about a sex or drug scandal or dramatic crime. It is instead about how a great nation defends its vital interests while keeping faith with its highest values."

Those high-minded concerns apply just as well to the current espionage fiasco. Has this administration defended our vital interests or kept faith with our highest values? Is this administration’s need to be held accountable for its actions on the world stage so much less important than the Reagan administration? If the American public had a better grasp of the outlines of this scandal, they too might ask: Where are the networks?