Democratic Michigan Representative John Conyers Jr. found himself in the spotlight on Tuesday after BuzzFeed reported that the Congressman paid $27,000 in a settlement allegedly linked to sexual harassment. “[Conyers] settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not ‘succumb to [his] sexual advances,’” BuzzFeed wrote. But that wasn’t enough for ABC and CBS who downplayed the accusations throughout the day.
The Conyers story broke with enough time for it to be picked up by the morning broadcasts of the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). Both CBS This Morning and NBC’s Today barely touched the story. Each gave the accusation just a news brief lasting 22 seconds and 35 seconds respectively. Meanwhile, ABC’s Good Morning America failed to report the accusations against Conyers period.
But come Tuesday evening, NBC got its act together and gave the accusations the attention they deserved. NBC was the only network news outlet to dedicate an entire segment to the accusations against Conyers. The NBC Nightly News report lasted two minutes and 14 seconds, which blew the others out of the water.
In sharp contrast, CBS Evening News allocated a mere 22 seconds for Conyers out of a total of 14 minutes they dedicated to covering stories related to sexual harassment over six segments. That meant only 2.6 percent of their sexual misconduct reporting had to do with the longest-serving Representative in the House. But meanwhile, they spent two minutes and 37 seconds continuing to harp on the 12-day-old Roy Moore story.
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Absent from CBS’s reporting was the fact that Conyers settled the allegation using $27,000 in taxpayer funding and that the accuser was allegedly fired for rejecting his sexual advances. But they did explain away the settlement as Conyers wanting to avoid a long legal battle in court.
But to CBS’s credit, the most amount of time they dedicated to a particularly alleged harasser was to their former host Charlie Rose at five minutes and 11 seconds over two segments.
During ABC’s World News Tonight, they spent three minutes and 14 seconds on Moore while only spending one minute and one second on Conyers. The network actually spent more time drooling over Black Friday car sales than the alleged sexual harassment by a congressman. They spent one minute and 31 seconds on the cars and the report ran part of a commercial for Dodge Ram pickup trucks.
For the Spanish-language networks, Telemundo continued its outrageous blackout of select harassment reports. On Tuesday they dedicated zero time to the allegations against Conyers just as they did with former CBS host Charlie Rose the day before. As for Univision, they ran the Conyers allegation in a report that reviewed the major allegations of the day and spent a total of one minute and 12 seconds on him.
The dearth of critical coverage of Conyers from both ABC and CBS was another piece of evidence that demonstrated that when it came to politicians being accused of sexual harassment they favor one side over the other. It becomes even more evident when you include their reluctance to stay focused on the allegations against Democratic Minnesota Senator Al Franken.