CBS and NBC Spike Independent Counsel's Report on Clintonite Obstruction

In his report released Thursday on Henry Cisneros, Clinton's HUD Secretary for several years who had pled guilty in 1999 to some charges, Independent Counsel David Barrett asserted that his probe was hindered by Clinton administration officials, even after they left office. But the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, which had time for some hardly hot news stories, such as a popular restaurant in New Orleans, didn't utter a word about Barrett's complaint. ABC's World News Tonight allocated 35 seconds to Barrett and Cisneros. Anchor Bob Woodruff pointed out how “Barrett accused Clinton officials of using their power to quote, 'blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination.'” Woodruff added: “Critics called Barrett's investigation 'incompetent,' 'wasteful' and 'without merit.'"

Barrett maintained in his report: "Beginning in the summer of 1997, the OIC developed, to the extent it could, evidence concerning efforts by officials of DOJ and the IRS to contain and limit the investigation of Cisneros's actions.” Barrett specifically cited Janet Reno and rued: “In the end enough high-ranking officials with enough power were able to blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination of Cisneros' possible tax offenses in the face of what seemed to many to be obvious grounds for such an inquiry." (What CBS and NBC covered instead, the ABC item in full and links to stories on Barrett's report, follow.)

Instead of covering Barrett, the January 19 CBS Evening News aired stories on the argument over who should have access to data in “black boxes”in cars and how “Mother's” restaurant in New Orleans is providing residents with “food locals associate with home.” The NBC Nightly News ran full pieces on the Justice Department of subpoena of Google for a random week's data of what users are searching so DOJ can enforce a law on online pornography, how few residents are returning to New Orleans, “the silent threat of a stroke” and NASA's mission to Pluto.

From San Francisco, World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff announced:
“The independent counsel, who first began investigating a former Clinton administration appointee a decade ago, issued a scathing report today. It was five years ago that David Barrett got former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros to admit he lied to the FBI about payments to a former mistress. But Barrett kept his investigation going in an unsuccessful attempt to see if tax laws were broken. In his final report Barrett accused Clinton officials of using their power to quote [text on screen], 'blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination.' Critics called Barrett's investigation 'incompetent,' 'wasteful' and 'without merit.'”

In a Thursday AP story, “Longtime Cisneros Probe Comes to Close,” Pete Yost explained that “when Barrett went to the Department of Justice seeking to broaden the probe, Attorney General Janet Reno allowed the prosecutor to look into only a single tax year, the report maintains.”

For the January 19 New York Times story, “Inquiry on Clinton Official Ends With Accusations of Cover-Up,” by David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has posted a PDF of Barrett's report
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center