Can Networks Cover WikiLeaks but Not Russian Hacking?

CBS has covered Russian hacking more than once following the Oct. 19 presidential debate, when Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton had no idea who was behind cyber attacks against the United States.

On Oct. 20, CBS reported that the same Russian-linked hackers who had targeted other Democratic groups had hacked Chairman John Podesta. The piece — longer than two minutes — also covered Clinton’s and Trump’s statements on the issue.

Then on Oct. 26, CBS covered the hacks on the Democratic National Committee, Podesta and Bellingcat, a Russian investigative website. The network also had an interview of Bellingcat’s Moscow contributor spending three minutes on the issue.

NBC spent close to three minutes on Russian hacking the day of the third and final debate. The story included U.S. claims that the Kremlin was behind the theft of classified information and the defensive measures taken to stop infiltration.


NBC Nightly News

The piece also reported that the United States considers WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a “willing participant in the Russian scheme” and concluded thousands of documents remain to be seen. All networks have given attention to WikiLeaks.

ABC has not presented a separate hacking story after the last debate.

Since all networks have covered WikiLeaks, is there an obligation to devote significant time to Russian hacking? Should ABC have devoted more time to this?

Former NBC correspondent and anchor Ann Curry said, “The Russian hacking story is important enough to be significantly covered by all the networks, given the mounting evidence that Russia appears to be meddling in this presidential election.”

Curry added, “Though the evidence is mounting, it still relies on sources who could potentially be motivated to overstate, mislead or misinform the public about Russia’s involvement. It does not seem to rely on hard evidence or proof that a reporter can actually show the public. … So there is also a good reason to be cautious about giving too much time to this story.”

More from Curry:

  • “Given the nature of this story, there is also an extra responsibility to attribute, attribute, attribute.”

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