Yesterday, a federal judge in Michigan issued “a sweeping rebuke of the once-secret domestic-surveillance effort the White House authorized following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” The ruling was “a significant blow to Bush’s attempts to expand presidential powers,” but you wouldn’t know that by watching last evening’s network newscasts.
All three major TV networks led their evening news with stories on JonBenet Ramsey’s death and the comments made by arrested teacher John Mark Karr. The networks offered multiple segments and numerous expert analyses to provide in-depth coverage on the legal case. The NSA decision received only a passing mention from two of the newscasts, while ABC devoted a full segment to it.
Still, ABC devoted twice as much time to Ramsey as it did to the NSA story. More egregiously, CBS offered seven times as much airtime to Ramsey as it did to the NSA story, while NBC devoted 15 times more airtime. Below is a comparison of the allocation of time made by each network:
|NETWORK||RAMSEY SEGMENT||NSA SEGMENT|
As CBS host Bob Schieffer wrapped up the Ramsey segment, he reassured the audience, “We’ll stay on this case. That’s for sure.”
UPDATE: Jeff Cohen offers an explanation for why the TV newscasts are focused on the Ramsey case.