Comey dump­ing on a pres­i­dent eclipsed by Stormy

The Australian - - WORLD -

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”.


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