Imagine for a moment that the FBI raided televangelist Pat Robertson's office for any reason whatsoever, much less say his 1988 presidential campaign. It'd be a story in the broadcast evening news programs, right?
So why the utter lack of interest in the December 12 federal probe into Al Sharpton's 2004 campaign? A review of Nexis for ABC, NBC, and CBS network news stories for December 12-18 yielded nothing on a December 13 FBI raid.
Here's an excerpt from the AP's reporting from December 13:
NEW YORK — Federal authorities have subpoenaed financial records and employees in an apparent probe of the Rev. Al Sharpton's 2004 presidential bid, nonprofit civil rights group, and for-profit businesses, a newspaper reported Thursday.
As many as 10 Sharpton associates were subpoenaed Wednesday to testify before a federal grand jury in Brooklyn Dec. 26, his lawyer told the Daily News.
They were told to provide investigators with financial records from the campaign and roughly six Sharpton-related businesses, as well as personal financial documents of Sharpton and his wife, the newspaper said.
The FBI and Internal Revenue Service are seeking the records, which go back to 2001, according to the Daily News.
A Sharpton spokeswoman did not immediately return phone calls or e-mail messages early Thursday.
An FBI agent who answered the phone at the agency's New York headquarters declined to comment, and an agency spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message. An IRS spokesman did not immediately return phone calls.
"It was like a sting or a raid," said Carl Redding, Sharpton's chief of staff for eight years during the 1990s. "They converged on everybody."
It remains to be seen if the story heats up on and after December 26. Somehow I doubt it will. What's more, while I'm not sure the Sharpton story is worthy of front-and-center coverage, it is notable that it's received virtually no interest whatsoever in the media.
By contrast, a search of the three broadcast networks for news in 2007 about Oral Roberts University (ORU) yielded a handful of stories about former ORU president Richard Roberts and his financial shenanigans.
Roberts is hardly a household name, but his mishandling of the school's finances and the corresponding scrutiny from evangelical Christians both inside ORU and at-large pressured Roberts to step aside as president.
For more NewsBusters coverage of the media and Al Sharpton, check our comprehensive compilation here.