While ABC and NBC on Wednesday continued their silence on the bribery trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, CBS This Morning allowed a scant 22 seconds. This was the first time all year CBS even mentioned the scandal swirling around the New Jersey politician. ABC and NBC haven’t touched the trial, which gets underway today.
This Morning co-host Gayle King briefly explained, “The New Jersey Democrat is accused of doing political favors for a Florida eye doctor in exchange for campaign donations and very lavish gifts. Both Menendez and the doctor denied the allegations and both have pleaded not guilty.”
She added, “Menendez is the first sitting senator to stand trial for bribery in 40 years.” One would think that fact alone would garner some attention, but not on ABC and NBC. And it’s not as though these two morning shows were only focused on hurricanes.
ABC’s Good Morning America devoted an eye-popping 22 minutes and 39 seconds to promoting the new season of Dancing With the Stars. Think the show’s “journalists” could manage a few seconds on Menendez?
After all, this has a real impact beyond the alleged corruption of a powerful politician. If the Democrat is convicted and forced to resign in 2017, his successor would be appointed by Republican Governor Chris Christie. This could increase the ability of Republicans to push through Donald Trump’s agenda.
Over on NBC’s Today, the four-hour-long program devoted 4 minutes and 18 seconds to “fall fashion bargains.” But nothing to Menendez. CBS This Morning deserves credit for touching the story at all, but not too much. It was only 22 seconds. As a comparison, the show allowed 5 minutes and 5 seconds on the Broadway play Hamilton.
In 2014, when the Bridgegate allegations exploded around another New Jersey politician, Republican Christie, the three networks devoted 88 minutes in less than 48 hours. On December 4, 2014, when a Democrat-led investigation failed to find any evidence conclusively linking Christie to Bridgegate, ABC, CBS and NBC managed just 32 seconds.
A transcript of the CBS news brief is below:
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CBS This Morning
7:33:18 to 7:33:40
GAYLE KING: Politico today reports on the start today of the bribery trial of Senator Bob Menendez. The New Jersey Democrat is accused of doing political favors for a Florida eye doctor in exchange for campaign donations and very lavish gifts. Both Menendez and the doctor denied the allegations and both have pleaded not guilty. Menendez is the first sitting senator to stand trial for bribery in 40 years.