Network Evening Newscasts Ignore First Day of Menendez Trial


Senator Bob Menendez
Senator Bob Menendez / Getty Images
September 7, 2017

All three major network newscasts ignored the first day of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez's (N.J.) corruption trial during their Wednesday night airings.

CBS, NBC, and ABC all began their programs discussing Hurricane Irma before reporting on President Donald Trump's decision to support a short-term debt-ceiling extension or providing an update on the recovery efforts in Texas for Hurricane Harvey victims.

"CBS Evening News" led off with a story about Hurricane Irma, followed by:

  • Houston's recovery from Hurricane Harvey
  • Trump's $1 million donation for Harvey relief
  • The latest on Trump's cancellation of the DACA program
  • Trump's deal with Democrats on raising the debt ceiling
  • Violence in Chicago
  • Hillary Clinton's upcoming memoir on her election loss
  • Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett's claim of police misconduct in Las Vegas
  • Safety ratings for pickup trucks
  • Wildfires in the western United States
  • Legos

"NBC Nightly News" also began with Irma, followed by:

  • FEMA's financial struggles to keep up with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
  • Republicans blindsided by Trump's deal with Democrats
  • Western wildfires
  • Michael Bennett
  • A shoplifter in Texas escaping handcuffs and stealing a police car
  • The latest on the U.S. Open
  • A young boy who got a police escort to school after his father, a cop, died
  • A woman making her wedding registry about donations to others

"ABC World News Tonight" began with Irma, followed by:

  • Trump's deal with Democrats
  • The latest on DACA
  • The Texas shoplifter's escape
  • Michael Bennett
  • Facebook revealing $100,000 in political ads bought by fake accounts based in Russia during the election
  • A safety recall on dressers
  • Jo Dee Messina revealing her cancer diagnosis
  • A plane flying by Hurricane Irma

NewsBusters noted that the ABC and NBC morning shows also ignored the trial Wednesday morning, while "CBS This Morning" did a brief blurb on it.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez "sold his office" for lavish vacations and gifts in return for political favors on behalf of his friend Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida ophthalmologist. Menendez has professed his innocence and believes he will be vindicated.

While Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) was on hand Wednesday in the courtroom to support his fellow New Jersey lawmaker, other Senate Democrats have showed reticence to comment on the trial.

Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, however, have covered the trial this week. MSNBC's Ari Melber said Wenesday the case appeared "overwhelming" against Menendez, while CNN's Jake Tapper previewed the trial on Tuesday's edition of "The Lead." Fox's "Special Report" also had a full story on the case on Wednesday evening.

UPDATED 2:52 P.M.: This story was updated with information about Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC's coverage of the trial.