Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why is NBC Still Staking Out Anthony Weiner's Office?

Whenever I’m up on Capitol Hill, I usually walk by Anthony Weiner's old office because it's literally right next door to one of the press work rooms. For the last couple weeks, it was fairly common to see about a dozen or so reporters camped out in front of his office. While I personally thought there were a lot more important things that deserved attention, the way he handled the situation caused it to become a huge story (even though sex scandals seem to always get attention anyways) and I wasn’t surprised that news outlets wanted to make sure they were there immediately in case Weiner decided to give interviews while going to and from his office. Considering how most of the reporters were simply reading books or chit-chatting while waiting for a glimpse of Weiner, however, I couldn’t help but think how much more valuable for the public it would be if they were actually sent to cover some of the dozens of Congressional hearings that happen everyday on the Hill that usually receive little attention.

Since Weiner’s no longer a member of Congress, it seemed like commonsense to me that networks wouldn’t be spending money to pay folks to sit outside his office. After all, we are constantly hearing about how news organizations can’t cover as many stories now because they’re losing money and are being forced to layoff reporters. When I walked by Weiner’s office on my way to the press workroom yesterday, however, I noticed that there were still reporters staked out in front of his office. There was a video camera operator from NBC and a still photographer whose affiliation I didn’t catch.

As I said, I understand that in the height of the scandal news organizations were competing over getting the latest developments in the story. But now that it’s over and the only things these reporters will see is staffers occasionally opening and closing the door while on their way to meetings, it’s time for NBC and other news outlets to move on and have their reporters cover some of the more pressing issues of the day -- like the budget negotiations, the charter school legislation that passed House Education and Workforce Committee, or how the Chairwoman of the FDIC was testifying about how banking regulations are important to our economic recovery. All of these events were taking place yesterday, after all, while there were reporters staked outside Weiner’s old office.

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