Over the last three days, ABC's World News devoted almost six times as much coverage to Senator Jim Bunning and his temporary hold-up of an unemployment bill as the program did for the ongoing revelations that Democratic Charlie Rangel violated House ethics with his trips to the Caribbean.
World News investigated and followed the Republican for four minutes and 38 seconds over two days. In comparison, the program could only manage a scant 48 seconds of coverage for Rangel. (Anchor Diane Sawyer on Wednesday finally asked George Stephanopoulos about the news that Rangel was stepping down from his powerful Ways and Means committee.)
The difference here is that Rangel's story was an actual scandal and ABC only treated Bunning's actions, which amounted to not giving unanimous consent to a $10 billion spending bill, as a scandal.
As the MRC's Brent Baker observed on March 2, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl hyperbolically reported how Bunning was "denying" people unemployment. Karl confronted the politician and tried to force his way onto a Senator's only elevator.
The reporter breathlessly asserted, "We wanted to ask the Senator why he is blocking a vote that would extend unemployment benefits to more than 340,000 Americas, including Brenda Wood, a teacher in Austin, Texas who has been out of work for two years."
On Wednesday, anchor Diane Sawyer explained in a matter-of-fact tone: "Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, powerful, immensely powerful, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is stepping down as chairman." Guest Stephanopoulos did describe the resignation as a "real blow" to Democrats. But, the brief coverage lacked the dramatic tone of ABC's stakeout for Senator Bunning.
World News featured Bunning for two minutes and 16 seconds on Monday and two minutes and 22 seconds on Tuesday. The program devoted 48 seconds to Rangel on Wednesday.