As the networks dwell on the tenth anniversary of the death of a troubled British princess this week, it might be worth remembering that at the time, we noticed the tabloid tendencies toward celebrity deaths at the time were a much bigger media trend than investigations into the scandalous fundraising tactics the Clinton-Gore team used in 1996. Our MediaWatch study at the time noted:
MediaWatch analysts examined fundraising scandal stories in August and September on the Big Three morning shows and evening shows, plus CNN's The World Today. The networks broadcast 686 stories on Diana between August 31 and the end of September compared to just 113 stories about the fundraising scandal. That's a ratio of more than 6 to 1. Isolating the morning shows, collectively they aired 407 stories on Princess Diana's death, while devoting just 36 to the scandal. That's an astonishing ratio of 10 to 1.
...Like most other months this year, most networks skipped fundraising stories on a majority of their broadcasts. In September's 30 days, with the Thompson hearings in their most dramatic stage, the morning shows were all guilty (CBS 28 days with no story, NBC 24, ABC 22). In the evening, CBS, ABC (both 20 nights off) and NBC (19) took more than half the month off, while only CNN (12) didn't.
In the August issue, MediaWatch had noted how compelling details of the Senate fundraising hearings in July were buried by the media frenzy over the Miami murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace, with a Versace-to-hearings ratio of 7 to 1 on the network morning shows.
This should be required reading for those of you who don't remember the Huang-Chung scandals.