Inside move: NBC’s Lack sez probe, pol ‘absurd’

Waxman accusing news coverage of being influenced

WASHINGTON — It’s Election Night 2000, and General Electric topper Jack Welch decides to pay a visit to NBC News headquarters, one of his empire’s many divisions.

Fast-forward to this past Tuesday, and a terse exchange of words between NBC topper Andy Lack and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) over the exact nature of Welch’s presence in the control room that night.

In a tart letter to Waxman, Lack said the pol is being “simply absurd” when suggesting there is inhouse footage proving that Welch influenced Election Night news coverage.

Specifically, Waxman has contended that Welch ordered news staff to call the presidential race for George W. Bush.

Lack has said repeatedly that Welch did no such thing.

“Your continued pursuit of videotapes and unfounded ‘rumors’ cannot be explained by any objective view of the facts. These ‘rumors’ are simply absurd. As you recall, all of the networks made the identical calls at virtually the identical times,” Lack wrote in a July 31 letter to Waxman, a copy of which was made available Wednesday.

Turns out that Waxman has peppered Lack with several letters over the last few months asking for copies of the alleged inhouse tapes documenting what Welch said, and when. Waxman has said that Lack is being evasive when asked specifically about the tapes.

Not the case, Lack wrote to Waxman.

“As I have said to you previously, there is simply no basis for a news organization to turn over its internal materials, especially when the grounds for the request is a baseless rumor that is dead wrong,” Lack wrote.

Still, no one likes to have a Washington lawmaker nipping at his heels. Waxman in particular is known for his perseverance and was among the pols who took the tobacco industry to task.

Seems the prez race of Nov. 7, 2000, isn’t over after all.