Illegal Donations to DNC Buried Last Night

Wednesday Morning CBS and NBC Viewers Don't See a Thing About Hearings; ABC Airs One Brief

Major revelations tumbled out of yesterday's hearings - Democrats admitted there was a Chinese attempt to influence elections, John Huang's 400 phone calls to Lippo bosses, a donor buying his way into meetings at the National Security Council, proof of an illegal 1992 contribution Huang made to the DNC - but the networks buried brief updates late in their evening shows, and the morning shows again went AWOL.

Evening shows, July 15:

ABC's World News Tonight. About 17 minutes into the show, after stories on the Versace murder, Versace's designs, three pieces on the Mir space station situation, a Mars update, and the Cosby extortion trial, Peter Jennings announced: "The Senate committee investigating campaign financing has heard the clearest testimony yet about a foreign contribution to the Democrats." Jennings gave it 26 seconds, with no soundbites from any of the three witnesses.

CBS Evening News led with the Versace murder, followed by reports on the Versace empire, Ken Starr's verdict on Vince Foster, the Cosby trial, Mir, Mars, heart disease studies and a new treatment for migraines. A bit more than 15 minutes into the show, Dan Rather reported Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) supported GOP claims that China tried to buy influence. CBS noted Huang's 400 calls to the Lippo Group while at the Commerce Department (more than one call per day), but aired no witness soundbites.

NBC Nightly News also led with the Versace murder, then a look at the suspected serial murderer, followed by Cosby, Mir, Mars, and an "In Depth" piece on Versace's life. Twenty minutes into the show, Tom Brokaw aired a soundbite from Sen. Lieberman, and then turned to Tim Russert, who offered his take: "Today's an indication that at least one Democrat is willing to put the chips on the table." Brokaw replied: "When do you think we're going to begin to hear more from Republicans, however, about some of their transgressions?"

CNN's The World Today (at 10pm ET) featured a thorough Candy Crowley report that summarized the day's hearings and included soundbites from witnesses.

Morning shows, July 16:

ABC's Good Morning America only aired an anchor brief at 7:30 am.

CBS This Morning has ignored the hearings entirely for five weekday mornings in a row. (They did have a long segment on the tango.) Last hearings mention: Wednesday, July 9.

NBC's Today had no story this morning. NBC devoted most of the 7:30 half hour to a man fired for recounting NBC's Seinfeld at work. - Tim Graham & Brent Baker