COMMENTS: Karl Bags the Scoop Yet ABC Still Buries the Lead

ABC's Jonathan Karl claimed the Exclusive for the Story of the Day, the continuing investigation into last September's attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi. But his network did not even consider Karl's scoop important enough to make it the lead item on its newscast. NBC did pick Benghazi. ABC chose to update the triple-kidnapping in Cleveland, its lead for the fourth straight day. CBS selected the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service.

ABC altogether had a strange news agenda, not only for its decision to bury Karl's scoop. Its assignment desk also decided not to have a correspondent cover the IRS scandal, nor the installation of the spire to complete the new World Trade Center skyscraper, nor a record global warming landmark. Instead, on this heavy news day, ABC's reporters filed two separate sports stories.

The revelation exposed by Jonathan Karl's scoop on Benghazi consisted of the back-and-forth between the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency over the wording of a set of security-cleared talking points for members of Congress immediately after the assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Karl got access to an e-mail exchange that ended up with the words al-Qaeda being deleted, along with a reference to the Ansar al-Sharia militia, perhaps to put the President in a positive light. CBS also covered the exchange from the White House, assigning Bill Plante.

NBC offered a different insight from diplomatic correspondent Andrea Mitchell, which makes Barack Obama's re-election campaign look like a sideshow. Watch her report on the "knife fight" between diplomats and spies, and you will see that Foggy Bottom believed it was being screwed by Langley.

NBC's man at the White House, Chuck Todd, observed that the IRS scandal is more serious than the Benghazi brouhaha. Both CBS' Chip Reid and NBC's Tom Costello covered the admission by an IRS bureaucrat that social welfare organizations applying for a 501(c)4 exemption were subject to extra scrutiny if they were conservative political activists. The tip off was in their names: "Tea Party" or "Patriot."


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