Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) apologized for bringing embarrassment to his state by accepting tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and about $120,000 in loans from a controversial tobacco executive. But though his actions are the subject of a federal grand jury and a state investigation, cable news largely ignored this story — opting instead to focus on the sex life of former Congressman and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (D).
Reports emerged Tuesday afternoon that Weiner had shared additional explicit conversations and photos after his 2011 resignation from Congress. Cable news channels reported this news repeatedly throughout the day. At 5:37pm Eastern time, CNN and MSNBC went live to Weiner’s press conference about the matter, while Fox News showed footage of Weiner’s remarks as The Five criticized his behavior. In total, more than 90 segments on cable news channels focused on Weiner and the his sex life between noon and midnight on Tuesday (according to the subscription-only TVEyes Media Monitoring Suite). The news was heavily regurgitated throughout the evening on those channels, as well as Current TV, Fox Business Channel and HLN.
Just two cable news segments covered McDonnell’s statement: MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and Fox News Channel’s Special Report With Bret Baier MSNBC’s Maddow began her Tuesday broadcast noting the two scandals and the media’s disparate coverage, observing, “Here, I thought the Bob McDonnell news was going to be the big political scandal news of the day.” She then joked that McDonnell owed Weiner a thank-you note, proposing a post-script of, “Please save the next pictures-of-your-genitals publication date for day I resign from office. Yours truly, Governor Bob.”
McDonnell currently represents the nation’s 12th-largest state, with more than eight million people. He and his family personally helped Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. market his scientifically-unproven nutritional supplements and he reportedly arranged a meeting for Williams with Virginia’s health secretary. In turn, Williams loaned the McDonnells money, paid $15,000 for the costs of their daughter’s wedding, and bought Mrs. McDonnell a $6,500 Rolex watch so she could give it as a gift to her husband the governor.
Weiner, who currently represents zero people, has been accused to no legal wrongdoing whatsoever.