Comey dumping on a president eclipsed by Stormy
James Comey takes the oath before congress last May
NEW YORK: Before airing George Stephanopoulos’s interview with former FBI director James Comey, ABC News made the unusual decision of releasing a full transcript of its nearly five-hour talk, including all the material that was not included in the broadcast.
ABC News president James Goldston said yesterday it was an important example of transparency, and it had paid off with the transcript becoming by far the most popular item on ABC News’s website.
Mr Comey’s interview, the first on the tour to promote his book A Higher Loyalty, was seen by 9.8 million viewers on Sunday. That’s a good number for the network, which reached 3.6 million viewers in the same time slot the week before with Deception.
It was less than half of the 22 million people who watched porn star Stormy Daniels talk on 60 Minutes last month about her alleged affair with Donald Trump, which he denies.
Mr Comey probably would have drawn more viewers if he gave his first interview to 60 Minutes; the CBS show reached 10.4 million people on Sunday. But Mr Comey sought more time on the air for his first interview, and ABC offered the full hour.
Mr Trump was apparently one of his viewers — at least for awhile — as Mr Comey described his contacts with the President and said Mr Trump lacked the moral authority to be president. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump had seen “bits and pieces of it.” “We didn’t learn anything new,” she said.
Mr Comey is on a media tour to promote his book that will include interviews by Jake Tapper of CNN, Judy Woodruff of PBS, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, Bret Baier of Fox News Channel and appearances on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show, The View, and a CNN town hall. But Stephanopoulos was first.
The network released the full transcript of the Comey interview when the show began airing. Mr Goldston said the decision to post the transcript was made after it was clear the network didn’t have enough time to broadcast all of the material from the interview.
“We thought we had an obligation to put everything out there and let people look at it and decide,” he said. “It’s a part of modern journalism.”
The decision could make ABC vulnerable to criticism from thosewho might not have liked its choices about what deserved to be on television. But it could have the opposite effect of insulating the network. “We don’t have anything to hide here,” he said. It could prevent people from asking “Why didn’t you ask this, when we knew we had asked the question”.