COMMENTS: More Attention on Attorneys

For the second straight day the firing of those eight federal prosecutors was Story of the Day. The networks finally paid attention to George Bush on his Latin American tour--sort of. They paid no mind to the fact the President was in Mexico. Instead they covered his acknowledgement in a press conference there that his Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was right to concede error. CBS and ABC led with the US Attorneys story. NBC, oddly, chose the dangers of sleeping pills instead.

When the President announced that he had sent his Attorney General to Capitol Hill to set matters straight, it was clear that a political showdown is looming. At the Justice Department, NBC's Pete Williams observed that the President was "obviously irritated." From the White House, CBS' Jim Axelrod surveyed Gonzales' morning with a four-way split screen, receiving a "rough reception" on CNN, Good Morning America, Today and The Early Show. "It will only get rougher when he heads to the Hill." ABC turned to This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos (no link). He related that GOPer Sen John Sununu told him that there was a "widespread" feeling among his Republican colleagues that Gonzales is "neither credible nor competent."

CBS and ABC fleshed out the political controversy with a couple of the specific cases. ABC's Pierre Thomas looked at prosecutor Carol Lam of San Diego: she won the bribery conviction of one local Republican congressman, Randy Cunningham and was revealed by The Los Angeles Times to be investigating a second. The day the Times story broke, the Justice Department e-mailed the White House that they had a "real problem" with Lam. She was let go, without cause as is the President's prerogative, seven months later. CBS' Sandra Hughes profiled fired Seattle prosecutor John McKay. McKay claimed he was targeted by the Republican White House and the Justice Department because he refused to investigate alleged voting fraud when the Democrats won the 2004 Washington Governor's race by a whisker thin margin.


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