Berger Bumped; Networks Shamed into Covering Mother Teresa
- The highest
ranking official so far testified Thursday, but neither the CBS
Evening News or NBC Nightly News aired a story.
- Two of the
three morning shows again skipped the hearings; CNN and MSNBC
carried a bit of Berger, but Berger and Fowler combined got less
live coverage than Haley Barbour.
- The networks
were shamed into offering live coverage tonight of Mother Teresa,
argued CBS reporter Mike Wallace.
"Top Ten Complaints of Larry King's New Wife."
1) On Thursday the highest ranking official yet appeared before the
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, but two of the broadcast
networks Thursday night ignored National Security Adviser Sandy
Berger's appearance. And twelve nights after her death, Diana topped
all three network evening shows on September 11, though CBS gave more
time to Mother Teresa:
ABC's World News Tonight led
with two Diana stories totaling 4:30. First, a poll showing that most
Britons want Prince William to be next King, not Charles. Second, a
story on the crash investigation. (Much later in the show ABC
allocated 1:45 to preparations for Mother Teresa's funeral.)
After stories on a new CDF
report showing a drop in AIDS deaths, a new drug to correct
osteoporosis and a Pentagon report on sexual harassment in the
military, ABC provided the only broadcast mention of the hearings.
Anchor Forrest Sawyer's 18 second item, in full:
"And at the Senate
hearings on campaign finance today the Senators heard from the highest
ranking member of the Clinton Administration yet to testify. National
Security Adviser Sandy Berger said that donations from Chinese
businessmen never influenced foreign policy. He also defended his
presence at political meetings during last year's election."
Not exactly a skeptical tone.
CBS Evening News anchor Dan
Rather made it to Calcutta, but the show still led with a "new
eyewitness account of the immediate aftermath of the crash that killed
Princess Diana." After a second Diana story CBS went to Calcutta
for a look at funeral preparations. CBS viewers didn't hear anything
about the hearings, but they did see these stories, in order:
- Pentagon sexual misconduct
- Albright in Israel.
- Clinton rejected Lott call
to withdraw Weld
- AIDS down, teen birth rate
down, life expectancy up
- Judge ruled American
Airlines liable for Colombia crash
- Class action lawsuit
against Ford over stalling cars
- Treasury wants to pay
Social Security checks electronically
- Dan Rather in Calcutta
reviewing the life of Mother Teresa, "a towering force for
good the world over."
- Calcutta as a "city
NBC Nightly News spent about
five and a half minutes on Diana, topping the show with the crash
investigation and a story on the flowers being removed in London and
the program ended with a profile of two photographers who spent years
chasing Diana. Like CBS, NBC did not utter a word about the hearings.
Here's a rundown of the rest of the show:
- Mother Teresa funeral
preparations (two minutes)
- Army sexual harassment
- Clinton proposal to limit
access to medical records
- In Depth on prostate
cancer/Michael Milken In His Own Words
- AIDS deaths and infant
- Senate approved national
education standards compromise. David Bloom on Clinton's plan.
- Paparazzi who chased Diana
ABC's Nightline on Wednesday
examined the charges against Al Gore and the impact on his
presidential plans. The show was the first Nightline since July 31 to
deal with the hearings and the third fundraising scandal-related show
since the hearings began.
2) Morning show wipe-out,
less time for two top Democrats than for one Republican, and MSNBC's
Neither the appearance of
former DNC Chairman Don Fowler nor the growing evidence against Al
Gore interests the morning shows. On Thursday, This Morning on CBS and
NBC's Today ignored all aspects of fundraising. Only ABC's Good
Morning America even mentioned the hearings, but barely. During the
7:30am news update MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen noted, Kevin Newman
took 30 seconds to report that Sandy Berger would be asked how those
who gave illegal money got into the White House and that a poll found
a drop in the number who consider Gore to be honest. (How any GMA
viewer would know questions have been raised about Gore's honesty is a
mystery since the show has yet to tell its viewers anything about any
of the series of revelations over the past week.)
CNN went live to Sandy Berger
when he made his opening statement at 11:30am ET in Thursday and
remained with him until almost 12:30pm ET. MSNBC also carried Berger
live from about 11:30 to 12:20pm, their first live coverage of the
But Haley Barbour got more
live coverage than two top Democrats combined. Both CNN and MSNBC
aired Barbour for about four hours on July 24, but CNN gave a combined
total of about two hours and forty minutes to Fowler and Berger. MSNBC
skipped Fowler, so Thursday's less than an hour on Berger compares to
four times more time given to Barbour.
The Incredibly Shrinking
Update. When the hearings began, MSNBC promised a daily Money Trail
update at 4:30pm ET each day. Back in July it often lasted 15 minutes
or more. Wednesday, MSNBC allocated just three minutes. The hearings
got more time on Thursday, but still only eight minutes for an update
from Joe Johns and analysis from Norah O'Donnell.
3) The networks plan live
coverage Friday night/Saturday morning of Mother Teresa's funeral, but
would they be offering such coverage if they had not done so much on
Diana? CBS reporter Mike Wallace thinks not. From USA Today's Peter
Johnson on September 10:
"Wallace said that network news execs have been shamed into
covering Mother Teresa's funeral in Calcutta, India, on Saturday --
NBC's Tom Brokaw, CBS' Dan Rather and ABC's Peter Jennings will be
there -- knowing that critics would savage them if they didn't. 'It
would be impossible to cover Diana's death in such an extraordinary
fashion without giving full understanding and compassionate coverage
to the funeral of this remarkable woman,' Wallace said."
Indeed, Friday night the
three broadcast networks plan to air live coverage from 12:30am ET
Saturday morning to about 2:30am ET. In the eastern and central time
zones, ABC's coverage will start at 11:35/10:35pm with Nightline and
continue for three hours.
A 9:30pm PT/10:30pm MT start
means the coverage will bump part of prime time in half the country,
so unlike Diana's early Saturday morning funeral Mother Teresa's will
cause the networks to lose some prime time ad revenue.
4) From the September 9 Late
Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Complaints of Larry
King's New Wife." The CNN host married for the seventh time last
weekend. Copyright 1997 by Worldwide Pants Incorporated.
10. During sex, he shouts,
"Connie, from Baton Rouge!"
9. Engraving on his wedding
ring reads, "30-day money back guarantee"
8. Two words: suspender
7. Always out drinking with
his brother Don King
6. She's listed on his
speed dial as "the future ex-Mrs. King"
5. Instead of a diamond
ring, he gave her one of his heart valves
4. In his newspaper column,
Larry gave the marriage two months
3. He keeps holding
"auditions" for wife number 8
2. At his age, he needs
suspenders on more than just his pants
1. Refuses to kick Perot
out of the garage
Reminder: To see if
the Friday morning shows did anything on the hearings (doubtful),
check our Media Reality Check fax report. It will be posted on the MRC
Web page Friday afternoon. If they didn't, that would make the above
cited GMA item the totality of coverage in the week during which the
two biggest name Democrats (former DNC Chairman and the current NSC
chief) testified and serious allegations of misdeeds were raised about
the Vice President.
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