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Nothing Leaking Here

The ConWeb's coverage of the Charles Bakaly case shows that lying to a judge is newsworthy only when it happens to Democrats.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/1/2000

It's a story that should be right up the ConWeb's alley: A former associate of ex-independent counsel Ken Starr going on trial for lying to a judge about a story leaked to the New York Times.

It has all their favorite elements: Ken Starr, lying under oath and the "liberal news media."

But the coverage of this story by NewsMax and WorldNetDaily has been sadly lacking. Why? Chalk it up to their political agenda: Conservatives and those aligned with them get less scrutiny from them than, say, Democrats or anyone with the last name of Clinton.

NewsMax has had the better coverage of the two, producing two stories -- one before the trial started and the other on the closing arguments. Both were filed under a generic NewsMax byline which, as ConWebWatch has demonstrated, makes the sourcing of these stories suspect (though they do seem to read like news stories written by actual journalists).

WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, has generated exactly one paragraph about the case on its news pages. You can't bury a story much deeper than this -- it's the last paragraph of a 24-paragraph story that devotes the other 23 paragraphs to an Ohio congressman and a former Clinton campaign-finance investigation fiture, the only connection between the three being that they are all under investigation. That's not just burying the lead, that's using an offshore drilling rig to shove it to the bottom of the ocean.

Nary a word about the trial can be found at the Conservative News Service.

Even the New York Times -- whose story ultimately got Bakaly in this predicament and who has some questions to answer regarding the story's sourcing -- provided daily coverage of the trial.

The case does get a brief mention elsewhere on WorldNetDaily, in a column by Paul Sperry, its Washington bureau chief. In it, he whines that the "mainstream" media is paying more attention to the Bakaly case than to the White House e-mail saga being played out in the same Washington courthouse. (This would be news to those of us who somehow missed the gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Bakaly trial on the three networks.) Guess which story Sperry is covering?

Sperry declared the scene "a snapshot of old-media bias. Two trials, same building. In one trial, an aide to the poster boy of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," the veritable bull's-eye of all Clinton-hater haters, is accused of obstructing justice. In the other, the White House is accused of obstructing justice."

It's a column meant as a Clinton-bashing effort, but ends up demonstrating only that Sperry is too lazy to go down the hall and gather information on a newsworthy story.

"The failure of the Fourth Estate to do its job -- to tell the unvarnished truth and put aside political agendas -- is the real scandal in this town," Sperry writes. And he amply demonstrates it by ignoring a story because of his political bias.

This, however, is the kind of coverage we've come to expect from the likes of NewsMax and WorldNetDaily.

A verdict on the case is expected on or after Aug. 11. Will the ConWeb devote any substantial coverage to it? Don't hold your breath.

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