Why The New York Times Controversy Is Missing On The "Evening News"
The escalating war of words over the decision by The New York Times (and other newspapers) to run a story detailing the government's bank-monitoring program has gained attention in just about every national news outlet – except for the CBS "Evening News." Last Friday, the day The Times ran its story, correspondent Bob Orr covered it. The show has not, however, weighed in on the administration's continuing claims that disclosure of the program has harmed national security or the passionate debate over whether The Times should have run the story. At least one group has noticed the lack of coverage -- the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group.
I asked Rome Hartman, executive producer for the "Evening News," about why the program has not covered the ensuing flap and the implication that it was downplaying the importance of the story or covering for The Times. In an e-mail, Hartman responded:
Simply, I don't think it's such an interesting story, and I don't think the audience cares much for stories by the press about the press. Perhaps we should have run the president's comments the other day about how it's disgraceful – other than that, no regrets. If we're covering up for The Times, it's not working out so well. I just don't think there's much to the story for us. They went with their story, they're under attack for doing so.My two cents: I tend to agree with Hartman that, except for hyper-focused people like us at Public Eye and politically charged observers, the general audience isn't all that interested in stories about the press. And it's hard to argue that the "Evening News" is somehow helping to bury the story. But when a story reaches the level of chatter and political maneuvering that this one has, isn't there some angle of interest worth running? At least up to this point, Hartman doesn't think so, and it's his call to make whether we agree with it or not.