Does ABC's Nightline have an aversion to covering stories that embarrass the Bush White House? Last summer it was the Cindy Sheehan phenomena, which "Nightline" successfully avoided for weeks on end. Now it's the Scoot Libby indictments, which appear to have created no interest inside one of ABC's signature news broadcasts. The apathy stands in stark contrast to Nightline's seemingly insatiable appetite in covering the Clinton White House scandals.
Fact: In the 24 months between Jan. 1994 and Jan. 1996, long before Monica Lewinsky entered the picture and back when Whitewater was about an alleged crooked land deal, Nightline devoted 19 programs to the then-unfolding scandal and investigation, for which no Clinton White House official was ever indicted. But during the 24 months between Sept. 2003 and Sept. 2005, Nightline set aside just three programs to the unfolding CIA leak investigation, for which Libby, an assistant to the president, was indicted. On the night of the Libby indictmnets, Nightline devoted just five percent of its program to that topic.
To be fair, Nightline was caught in an awkward position because that night it had a long-planned Town Hall meeting broadcast from Houston to discuss emergency preparedness, so it could not very well abandon the topic. But what about the following Monday, did Nightline address the Libby indictments? No. Tuesday? No. Wednesday? No. Thursday? No. Friday? No. In the ten days since the criminal charges were filed Nightline has refused to revisit the issue.
Am I stating the obvious by suggesting it's inconceivable that if an assistant to president Clinton had been charged with lying to a grand jury investigating Whitewater that Nightline would have shrugged off the development so effortlessly?