NEW YORK — One day before Super Tuesday, it’s politics as usual.
The Republican National Committee circulated office phone numbers of anchors and execs for the Big Three broadcast news orgs Monday, urging the public to complain about the shortage of coverage on the conviction of Maria Hsia.
Hsia, who organized a fund-raiser for Vice President Al Gore at a suburban Los Angeles Buddhist temple, was recently convicted on five felony counts. According to the RNC, her conviction warranted 19 seconds on “ABC World News Tonight,” 23 seconds on “CBS Evening News” and no mention on NBC’s “The Nightly News With Tom Brokaw.”
RNC chairman Jim Nicholson is protesting the network’s “non-coverage” by giving out the private phone numbers of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather as well as the president and VPs of the networks’ news divisions and urging GOP activists to begin “networking.”
“How do you solve a problem like Maria Hsia?” Nicholson asked in a statement. “If you’re a network anchor, you make like a Buddhist nun and take a vow of silence. Maybe a few thousand phone calls, e-mails and faxes will give them the news and get them to kick the habit.”
None of the news divisions plans to respond to the RNC’s criticism. A CBS spokeswoman dismissed the accusations as “politics.” Both ABC News and NBC News reps said they stand by their editorial decisions. “We don’t measure the importance of news by seconds,” an ABC News spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, the cable news nets were gearing up for Super Tuesday. CNBC’s Geraldo Rivera will anchor two special editions of “Rivera Live” from Los Angeles today. Rivera will be joined by a panel of journalists and political analysts, including Carl Bernstein, Arianna Huffington, Republican strategist Ed Rollins, Alan Dershowitz and the Revs. Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton.
At CNN, anchors Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff — along with lead analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider — will provide viewers with live coverage, beginning at 5 p.m. Fox News Channel will begin its live election coverage at 6 p.m. with a special report by Brit Hume.