CNN stood out as especially pathetic. On CNN's "American Morning" the day after the Reid story broke (and nearly two weeks after Foley resigned), they aired 18 minutes of Foley stories and 35 seconds on Harry Reid. On "The Situation Room," Wolf Blitzer quarantined the Reid story to little dribs and drabs heavy on Reid protesting his innocence. Meanwhile, CNN was devoting minutes to more substantial stories, like Arnold Schwarzenegger joking on "The Tonight Show" that connecting him to Bush was like connecting him to an Oscar. Toxic Bush -- now that's Blitzer-tickling news.
But the networks were not alone in displaying fall-campaign favoritism. The New York Times put its Harry Reid story the next day on page A-19. The headline? "Senator to Amend Financial Forms." Could the Times have possibly come up with a better "please don't bother to read this, no real scandal here" headline?
In case you're wondering if the Times favors Democrats on scandal stories, this was the Page One headline on the very same day: "Foley Case Snags Incumbent In Ohio Race for House Seat." Reporter Adam Nagourney found Republican House leader Deborah Pryce in deep trouble in Columbus. On that day, the Foley news spilled over into 74 column inches of text and pictures. By contrast, the Reid story was merely 18 column inches. Clearly, the Times doesn't hide its partisan priorities.
How about the news magazines? Last week, their covers taunted and jeered at Republicans. Time's cover showed the back of an elephant's behind, signaling a goodbye to Republican corruption. Newsweek had a big picture of Mark Foley with the words "Off Message." This week, Time has a cover hailing the greatness of liberal Democrat Sen. Barack Obama. Neither one even mentioned Harry Reid. U.S. News mentioned Reid, but not his disclosure forms. They merely warned "Republican leaders trying to outrun their own scandals" would attack Reid and Pelosi.
This week, another little story erupted, again featuring Reid. He was paying a few thousand dollars in Christmas bonuses to employees of his condominium at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington out of his campaign funds, not his own wallet. That's a clear violation of campaign laws. And besides, isn't this a juicy story by today's TV standards? The Senate Democratic leader, living at the Ritz-Carlton? And tipping the hired help with someone else's money at Christmas time?
Predictably, NBC gave it a few seconds. The other networks did nothing. The papers buried it inside. And they wonder why there are bumper stickers saying, "Don't Trust the Liberal Media."