Here's another nugget of recent media history on indictment coverage of Democrats. While the networks have found a grave problem in Vice President Cheney's office in Scooter Libby, the same networks weren't hot to report the indictment of Maria Hsia, who helped arrange Al Gore's infamous Buddhist Temple fundraiser. On July 8, 1998, in the middle of Monicagate, Brent Baker reported in the CyberAlert that Hsia was indicted:
This 13-seconds from anchor Bob Schieffer represents the totality of network coverage for Hsia: "Democratic Party fundraiser Maria Hsia was hit with a new federal indictment today. She’s already charged with disguising illegal campaign donations to the Clinton re-election campaign. Today she was indicted on federal income tax charges."
Hsia was convicted on March 2, 2000. Baker reported the media's lack of interest on March 3:
A federal jury convicted Maria Hsia on Thursday on five counts related to the illegal funneling of over $100,000 to Democrats and the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. Recalling how she directed the infamous Buddhist temple money laundering event featuring Al Gore, CNN’s Charles Bierbauer suggested that "may be an albatross on" Gore’s "campaign neck." Well, if it does become one it won’t be because of network TV news.
While CNN’s The World Today ran a story and a half of Hsia and her ties to Gore and FNC’s Fox Report gave it half a story, following a full one on Special Report with Brit Hume, ABC’s World News Tonight allocated a piddling 19 seconds and the CBS Evening News devoted a mere 23 seconds to the story. But at least ABC and CBS noticed the verdict. Not a syllable about it appeared Thursday night on the NBC Nightly News or MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams.
Instead, NBC’s newscast ran full stories pushing gun control, on flooding in Mozambique and explaining "phased retirement" in which workers toil part time and simultaneously get a pension and a paycheck. MSNBC’s hour featured six minutes of the "God Squad," and full stories on the late night appearances by McCain and Bush and John Rocker’s return. Plus, an eleven minute re-run of a Dateline story on how two murderers were inspired by hate Web sites.
Here’s the totality of March 2 broadcast network coverage:
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. Peter Jennings took 19 seconds to tell viewers: "In Washington today, Maria Hsia, a key figure in the fundraising abuses in the 1996 Democratic campaign, has been found guilty of lying to prosecutors about more than $100,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Much of it came from the famous campaign event which Al Gore attended at a Buddhist temple in 1996."
-- CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather consumed 23 seconds in relaying: "A federal court jury in Washington today convicted Democratic Party fundraiser Maria Hsia on all five felony counts of funneling illegal donations to Democrats, including the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. Hsia is a long-time friend and political supporter of Al Gore. Asked for comment the Vice President said it was, and I quote, ‘A sad day’ for his friend and supporter."