ABC, CBS, NBC All Avoid Coverage of 'Ferocious' Alcee Hastings Fight In The House

It was surprising to learn from Byron York how little The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Nancy Pelosi’s struggle over whether to appoint 14-year Representative (and impeached federal judge) Alcee Hastings to lead the House Intelligence Committee. It might be a little less surprising to report that a look at morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC found the networks have so far skipped that House fight as well, with the exception of ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

In fact, the Big Three networks have barely mentioned or quoted Nancy Pelosi at all since Jack Murtha was defeated in the majority leader’s race on November 16. It’s odd for the networks to skip the Hastings fight, since Pelosi made "draining the swamp" of Republican corruption such a big campaign issue (and the exit polls suggested this as well.)

In the roundtable discussion on the November 26 "This Week," Stephanopoulos said Pelosi was under "tremendous pressure" to name Hastings, although he said Hastings realized his chances weren’t good. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne said "the politics are totally against her. This is a mess for her." Democratic consultant Donna Brazile said it was a "tough decision," but later praised Hastings as a "good and decent man" who has "acted in good faith" in seeking the job.

On the November 19 "This Week," Stephanopoulos pressed incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Hoyer would only say of Hastings, "Those who have served with him think he’s a very able, credible candidate." He would not give a definitive answer when Stephanopoulos asked if the impeachment was disqualifying.

The NBC-syndicated "Chris Matthews Show" included another description of a big battle when from NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell on November 12:

Mitchell: "There is a ferocious fight going on already in the House side. Speaker Pelosi, Speaker-designate Pelosi, is not going to yield on Jane Harman on the Intelligence Committee, and a little-known decision known by Rahm Emanuel not to challenge an African-American congressman for the whip post means that the Congressional black leadership will feel that they already have been mollified. This will take Alcee Hastings, an African-American, off the waiting list for Intelligence....and they're going to go to an Hispanic for Intelligence."

Chris Matthews: "Yeah. Well, Why is Pelosi so tough on Harman?"

Mitchell: "Feels she hasn't been tough enough on the Bush administration on intelligence issues, that she was too moderate, too centrist, even though she is the most credible Democrat on all of these issues and has a national following. And it is a really nasty fight among two powerful congresswomen."

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell found a "ferocious...really nasty fight among two powerful congresswomen," and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos found "tremendous pressure," so why did these heavyweights not press their network bosses that this was a news story that should not be ignored? It looks like sensitivity to underlining examples of ethically challenged Democrats.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis