Benghazi Hearing Only Gets Second Place Billing on Network Evening Newscasts

The evening news broadcasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS on Wednesday all offered full reports on the compelling congressional testimony regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack, but only after all three programs led with coverage of the Cleveland abduction case.

NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News both at least informed viewers of the hearing during top-of-the-show teases, but ABC World News failed to make any mention of the hearing until a report nine minutes into the program (though anchor Diane Sawyer did find time to preview a story about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams).

NBC's Brian Williams got to the story the quickest, at five minutes in, and CBS's Scott Pelley got to it at seven minutes in with two consecutive reports.

In total, the three network evening newscasts gave a combined 19 minutes 12 seconds to coverage of the kidnapping case, while only 10 minutes 3 seconds to the new Benghazi revelations. A nearly 2-to-1 disparity.

[UPDATE: On Thursday night, May 9, ABC's World News and the CBS Eevening News didn't mention Benghazi. NBC Nightly News offered 27 seconds on House Speaker John Boehner's call for the release of State Department e-mails.]

One might expect such a tabloid story to get top priority on the morning shows – NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning on Thursday gave a combined 56 minutes to the abduction story and Jodi Arias murder trial but only 7 minutes to Benghazi – but viewers should be able to expect more substance on the evening newscasts.

In a statement released on Thursday, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell called the media to account: "If ABC, CBS, and NBC don't thoroughly investigate and report on each and every one of these bombshell developments, and provide the American public with a true and honest account of the administration's deadly mistakes and outright lies, they will also be guilty of deliberately censoring the news."

Despite putting Benghazi second, both Williams on Nightly News and Sawyer on World News acknowledged the hearing was a "big story":

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now to another big story getting a lot of attention today. The emotional testimony by a top diplomat about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. And the aftermath of that evening, which has been consumed ever since by controversy. Today we heard a chilling account of what really happened in Libya. Our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell following it all from our D.C. newsroom tonight.

DIANE SAWYER: And now we turn to some other big stories today. Starting in Washington, the dramatic story told today by people at the center during that attack in Benghazi last year, people who said they were pleading for help. As you know, four Americans, including the ambassador, died and ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl has more on what we learned today.

On CBS, Pelley emphasized the uniqueness of the testimony:

PELLEY: We've heard for the first time today from an American diplomat who was in Libya when a U.S. consulate there was attacked last September. Gregory Hicks was in Tripoli when the consulate in Benghazi was attacked by militants. Today, he testified before a House committee investigating the Obama administration's response to the attack which killed a U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans. Sharyl Attkisson covered Hicks' testimony for us.