As tonight’s network evening newscasts went on the air, news broke of a superseding indictment in the federal bribery case against U.S. Sen. Bob Menéndez (D-NJ). Of the three major networks, only CBS made time to cover the story.
Major Garrett, filling in for Norah O’Donnell on tonight’s edition of CBS Evening News, read a quick 22-second note on the indictment. Here is that report, in its entirety:
MAJOR GARRETT: In New Jersey, Senator Bob Menendez was hit with new federal charges today, alleging that he used his influence to promote the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar in exchange for gifts, including luxury watches. Menendez is already facing charges for allegedly taking bribes of gold bars among other things, to help Egypt’s government. Menéndez has denied the charges and resisted calls to resign.
Those 22 seconds were scant but were 22 seconds more than the other guys offered.
There was certainly sufficient time to cover the story. Could there have been other, more pressing items that compelled ABC and NBC to bump Menéndez’s indictment off of the evening newscast?
NBC devoted a full two minutes and 25 seconds to its exclusive interview with the just-released Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and another nearly two minutes to Michigan’s mystery $842 million Powerball winner. Breaking corruption of a sitting Democrat senator? Nah, bruh. There was just no time.
What, you might ask yourself, did ABC prioritize over breaking news coverage of the superseding indictment of a sitting United States Senator? In fairness, they did cover the migrant buses from Texas being rerouted into New Jersey in order to circumvent New York City’s onerous notification order. But they also covered a minor earthquake in NYC, and a shark bite in Hawaii. There was also the matter of the twins born less than an hour apart, but billed as a “year” apart since the eldest was born as the year wound down. Many such babies in that feature.
We don’t have to wonder whether somebody with an “R” attached to their name would garner similar treatment, given the torrent of unsubstantiated adverse reporting accorded to Donald Trump over the years.
Even Univision and Telemundo, immigration advocacy allies of Menéndez, did the right thing and aired news of the superseding indictment in prime time. There’s simply no excuse for ABC and NBC not to do likewise.
Exit question: would there even be any corruption charges to cover today had the media done its job on some of the more unsavory allegations against Menéndez?