It’s not that there isn’t still an important news story unfolding in the saga of California State Senator Leland Yee… there is. In fact, federal indictments were handed down on Friday and one of his alleged co-conspirators was ordered released on a quarter million dollars bail. But the fact is that there’s a fair chance that this story has pretty much been told already. Assuming the allegations are true, the situation has been fairly well described. A hugely corrupt and even more hypocritical Democrat who ran on stricter gun control laws was caught channeling campaign donations and bribes to expedite the illegal smuggling of weapons. It would take something truly extraordinary to make this story shine with a fresh light. (Think of something along the lines of the deals going much further up the food chain to bigger fish or some sort of established tie to a known terrorist organization beyond the local gangs.)
What’s really begun to come into focus here is the mind boggling side bar involving the complete radio silence on this at CNN. It’s gone well beyond the level of slow response, lack of interest or some sort of administrative snit at the network and moved into the range of the truly bizarre. We’ve already seen the list of other news outlets covering this story. The LA Times has it. The Gray Lady was on it on day one. The WaPo is still covering it in their national section. For Pete’s sakes, the first link I included at the beginning of this article was from CBS. (And if anybody was going to bury this story…) Given the speed at which the competitive news cycle moves, entire species could have risen and fallen to extinction since this story broke and yet there has been not a single flickering frame of images on CNN where the story is mentioned. There was not, as of Friday evening rush hour, a single syllable on their web site.
This is, as I said above, beyond curious. And while this is nothing but personal conjecture on my part at this point, it couldn’t possibly have been an accident. Somebody had to have made a conscious decision that Leland Yee’s name would not be uttered on CNN, and that person must have been pretty high up. But why? What’s so special about Yee? It’s not as if they haven’t covered other Democrats in trouble.
By now we all know the story of how the CNNWriters account on Twitter claimed that stories about state senators just don’t merit coverage. But that’s a curious position, given that CNN actually did consider Yee worthy of coverage when he was involved in an issue regarding, (wait for it…) shark fin soup. State senator Yee was also deemed worthy of mention at CNN when he was trashing Sarah Palin. In fact, a search of the phrase “state senator” at the network’s we site returns nearly 3,000 hits. These include such hot topics as state senators talking about taking upskirt shots and another with an opinion on a shooting. And, of course, Wendy Davis is just a state senator running for another office.
Let’s reflect on these stories for a moment and then recall something. Leland Yee allegedly tried to sell a freaking rocket launcher to a federal agent.
CNN was making something of a comeback this past year, at least in my opinion. They pulled off a real coup when they snagged Jake Tapper from ABC, bringing a huge shot in the arm to their credibility and image of unbiased, hard hitting reporting. (Pro-Tip to ABC: if you’d just given Tapper the chair at This Week I bet he would have stayed. And the show would be competitive again.) Victor Blackwell does very well for them on the weekends, and honestly, to this day I couldn’t tell you if he’s a conservative or a liberal. Smerconish has been doing pretty well with his new show as well. But not even they touched it. I don’t know if we’ll ever find out the real reasons at the bottom of this particular well, but there just has to be more here than meets the eye.
An UPDATE of sorts. After I began working on this story on Friday, I asked Jake Tapper on Twitter whether or not he’d gotten a chance to cover it yet. This was his response.
@JazzShaw we're waiting til next court date
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 4, 2014
He pointed out that the Fort Hood story was big on Friday, but I take that to mean that he, at least, plans on talking about it when Yee is next in court. It would be interesting to hear his side of things as to why this took so long.