60 Minutes Goes Black–Who Does It Protect?

As a number of you pointed out in the comments, 60 Minutes curiously went off the air in Northern Alabama last night for over half of the segment on Governor Siegelman. The station did rebroadcast the show at 10 PM last night. Still, the fact that just one station in Alabama lost the show just when it was showing a damning story on Alabama’s politicized prosecutions sure reeks, particularly given the way the local newspapers have buried the story.

Now it is possible that the station’s explanation–that its receiver went out–is true. But on the off chance that it’s not, I wanted to look at whom the Bush crony-Bass owned station might have been trying to protect, if the lost signal was intentional.

According to this comment from Mooncat, the broadcast picked up just past midway.

The first thing I saw was Doug Jones and this is the first bit I recall hearing (p. 3)

"They started over. People started getting subpoenas that had never gotten subpoenas before, for testimony, for records. The governor’s brother, his bank records started getting subpoenaed. The net was cast much wider than had ever been cast before," Jones says.

It may have been on for a few seconds before that, but not much.

Thus, the segment that showed included details about how DOJ got involved in the process:

Justice Department headquarters in Washington had ordered a top to bottom review of the case

And how Leura Canary oversaw a prosecution in which she had serious conflicts.

The prosecution was handled by the office of U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, whose husband Bill Canary had run the campaign of Siegelman’s opponent, Gov. Riley.

“Why would you do it that way?” Woods asks. “Why wouldn’t you say, ‘You know what? We’re going to bring in someone from another jurisdiction to do it.

So the blackout certainly didn’t protect Leura Canary. But it did leave out the damning comment from Canary’s husband, where he said "his girls" would fix his Siegelman problem.

Canary told her she didn’t have to do more intelligence work because, as Canary allegedly said, “My girls” can take care of Siegelman. Simpson says she asked “Who are your girls?”

“And he says, ‘Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she’s the Middle District United States Attorney.’ And he said, ‘And then Alice Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I’ve helped with her campaign,’” Simpson says.

And it did block out Simpson’s description of Rove asking her for oppo research on Siegelman did show:

"Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" Pelley asks.

"Yes," Simpson replies.

"In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," Pelley clarifies.

"Yes, if I could," Simpson says.


Simpson says she wasn’t surprised that Rove made this request. Asked why not, she tells Pelley, “I had had other requests for intelligence before.”

“From Karl Rove?” Pelley asks.

“Yes,” Simpson says.

Once again, there may be a perfectly plausible explanation for why this station lost the feed of a story that would do its owners’ friends some damage. And if they were trying to protect Rove and Canary, they ultimately failed to do so, since the rebroadcast the show and have focused a lot of attention on themselves and the story.

But suffice it to say that Northern Alabama’s regular 60 Minutes watchers–those that weren’t already engrossed with the Oscars–didn’t see the part of the story that detailed plans to intentionally use the Federal Justice system to take out a political rival.

29 replies
  1. Phoenix Woman says:

    Here’s Scott Horton’s report on this:

    Off the Air in Alabama

    I am now hearing from readers all across Northern Alabama–from Decatur to Huntsville and considerably on down–that a mysterious “service interruption” blocked the broadcast of only the Siegelman segment of 60 Minutes this evening. The broadcaster is Channel 19 WHNT, which serves Northern Alabama and Southern Tennessee. This station was noteworthy for its hostility to Siegelman and support for his Republican adversary. The station ran a trailer stating “We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring ‘The Prosecution of Don Siegelman.’ It was a techincal problem with CBS out of New York.” I contacted CBS News in New York and was told that “there is no delicate way to put this: the WHNT claim is not true. There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters.” I was told that the decision to blacken screens across Northern Alabama “could only have been an editorial call.” Channel 19 is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, who can be contacted through Rhonda Barnat, 212-371-5999 or [email protected]. Oak Hill Partners represents interests of the Bass family, which contribute heavily to the Republican Party.

  2. JimWhite says:

    As several people pointed out last night, it’s pretty unlikely many viewers stuck around through all of that dead air to catch the end of the story once the broadcast restarted. It seems unlikely also that many people unfamiliar with the story would have pursued the later rebroadcast or the online version. I think the “interruption” managed to keep the story away from the casual viewers who most needed to see it.

  3. Jim Clausen says:

    Peterr at firedoglake has a pertinent comment.

    “Speaking of endangering things, the Bass family might be putting their station license at risk.

    Using the public airways is a privilege, not a right, and the manipulation and lies about editing out a story they don’t like might be detrimental to getting their station license renewed.

    No one says they have to air something they don’t want to air — but lying about it makes a mockery of “serving the public interest.”

    • emptywheel says:

      It’ll take some doing to wrest the station license out of them. There was a well-informed discussion of this on DKos last night–there USED to be a rule that the FCC could punish you for not airing something in the public interest (which is how they forced Alabama to show the Selma attacks), but that has been watered down.

      Plus, given that they DID show it, it’d be hard to make the case that they didn’t show it.

  4. freepatriot says:

    so ho9w do you file papers to DISBAR somebody in Alabama

    My girls” can take care of Siegelman. Simpson says she asked “Who are your girls?”

    “And he says, ‘Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she’s the Middle District United States Attorney.’ And he said, ‘And then Alice Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I’ve helped with her campaign,’” Simpson says.

    and we can take care of your girls for you

    filing a false criminal charge oughta be reason for disbarment rigth

    oughta be a reason to convict in a criminal court too

    wonder how “His Girls” will like him after that

  5. masaccio says:

    It looks like Oak Hill Partners owns 9 stations, including a CBS channel in Memphis, Fort Smith AR and Norfolk. None of them had suspicious interruptions.

  6. Minnesotachuck says:

    One of the threads I scanned during the middle of last night (can’t remember which) mentioned an interruption in the Mobile, AL, area also. Anyone heard or seen anything else about that?

  7. bmaz says:

    Random musings:

    1) This station is called Channel 19. That means it is either UHF and/or cable. Maybe times have just changed that much, but this seems odd. CBS, NBC and ABC are the old time big three broadcast networks. Their signals were always on the lower numbered VHF channels. I am sure this is irrelevant here, but it seems like an odd frequency/channel for the only local CBS affiliate.

    2) There must be some kind of certified tech reports for this kind of outage, what do they look like?

    3) Sure doesn’t seem like a bright move. Guaranteed to cause more of a ruckus than it’s worth; especially with the thing masked by the Oscars to start with. This is Alabama we are talking about here, but the Bass boys are Texas I believe. They are not the best folks in the world, but are they this stupid?

    4) As much griping as all the progressives have done about the prosecution of Siegelman, not nearly enough attention has ben placed on the District Court judge. His conduct absolutely reeks. Grant pointed out last night some of the really unusual conduct by Fuller; but he didn’t mention that in addition to all that, Fuller’s court somehow managed to not produce the trial transcripts necessary for any appellate consideration, likely even release revisitation. In this day and age, with the modern court reporting equipment, this is inconceivable.

    • dakine01 says:

      …CBS, NBC and ABC are the old time big three broadcast networks. Their signals were always on the lower numbered VHF channels. …

      Not necessarily. In smaller cities (Lexington, KY for instance) the stations were all UHF (Channels 18, 27, and 32 IIRC).

      • freepatriot says:

        I got a question about FISA, and I need some experts to consider it

        I was just talking to my congresscritter’s staffer about telco immunity, and the staffer said that the “Pay-Go” law might derail FISA

        I know what “pay-go” is, but I’m thinking that the staffer was just trying to baffle me with bullshit

        when I told her that I understood what “Pay-Go” was, and I couldn’t see how it applied to FISA, the staffer had to go

        anybody ???

        what does “pay-go” have to do with FISA

        I understand it would be in play if we substitute liability to the fed from the telcoms, but in a straight rejection of immunity, would “pay-go” ever come up ???

        • bmaz says:

          … would “pay-go” ever come up ???

          Not that I see, unless they are arguing that the Administration cannot afford the money to operate under the law. OR that they have figured out that the Administration gave indemnity agreements and that there would pretty much have to be a tax increase to pay for the liability that Bush assumed in the taxpayer’s names.

          • bmaz says:

            You know, they have whined about all the burdensome man hours necessary to make a warrant application (and no, it is not that bad if you are freaking set up to do that regularly, which they are); I wonder if they are really going to be so audacious as to argue that it is simply to costly to comply with the Constitution…

            • freepatriot says:

              so why is a DEMOCRAT trying to sell this bullshit for bushco ???

              The staffer didn’t like it when I pointed out that the “bluedogs” are welded to bush’s ass

              tried to tell me about all the times my congresscritter opposed george. YES she did

              this whole conversation was a JOKE

            • freepatriot says:

              I wonder if they are really going to be so audacious as to argue that it is simply to costly to comply with the Constitution…

              if we can’t afford democracy HERE, why are we wasting money to defend it over there ???

      • bmaz says:

        Ok, Ok I give on the VHF channel thing. What me worry; thats just what I remembered as a kid…..

        As you well know from all the discussion surrounding Libby, the kind of treatment that Fuller gave Siegelman is simply unheard of in Federal white collar prosecutions. I’ve never seen anything like that even in drug conspiracy cases I have done and seen with others, although in some of those there was at least an arguable basis for flight risk etc. And then the transcripts…. I don’t know, but this Fuller needs to be inspected down to and below the seams. I don’t normally set my sights on judges that easily, but this one reeks, at least on this case.

        • freepatriot says:

          what kind of PIECE OF SHIT JUDGE can’t produce transcripts ???

          if you ain’t got transcripts, then there WAS NEVER A VALID TRIAL

          check the law books, you stupid fucking judge …

          • freepatriot says:

            Court recorder apparently died,


            motion to dismiss, based upon depriving a person’s right to a FAIR TRIAL

          • bmaz says:

            With the modern court reporter’s setup, that should not have been a problem. Non-certified quick transcripts can be produced almost immediately from the computer file produced as the reporter makes the chicken scratch. A secondary reporter could make any necessary corrections. Quite frankly, most modern setups not only allow for quick transcripts, they, in fact, even allow for instantaneous real time transcripts, with somewhere around 98% accuracy, to appear on video screens for the judge and respective counsel (and be temporarily saved) as the live testimony is given right there in the trial courtroom. This delay still doesn’t fly.

  8. masaccio says:

    The station is sticking to the technical problem defense:

    February 25, 2008

    WHNT-TV/NewsChannel 19 experienced technical difficulties last night at the beginning of 60 Minutes, as a special investigative report called “The Prosecution of Don Siegelman” was airing.

    We apologize for this.

    NewsChannel 19 lost our program feed from CBS. Upon investigation, WHNT has learned that the satellite receiver that allows us to receive programming from CBS failed. The problem was on our end, not the network’s. WHNT engineers responded as quickly as possible to restore the feed at 6:12 p.m.

    Again, we offer our sincere apologies to our viewers across the Tennessee Valley.

    To correct the issue, we re-broadcast the entire piece Sunday on NewsChannel 19 at 10:00.

    However, if you missed it, you can watch it right now on WHNT.com. Click here to go to the CBS Video Player. Once you’re there, click on “60 Minutes” to the right of the player, under the “News” category.


  9. freepatriot says:

    file a motion to dismis, under the grounds that NO TRIAL OCCURED

    if there WAS a trial, there would be transcripts of said event

    if there are NO TRANSCRIPTS, what evidence do we have that there EVER WAS A TRIAL

    seems to me that, by this admission, everybody whom was involved in this “Trial” except the defendant, is guilty of violating the Constution of The United States

    if the government wants to claim there was a trial, lets see the transcripts

    if there ain’t any transcripts, mthere wasn’t any trial under the Law of the United States

    this one is a NO BRAINER, folks

    no transcript = no trial

  10. GeorgeSimian says:

    Does anyone know if this 60 Minutes story has lit a candle under anyone in Congress? Wasn’t it a 60 Minutes on steroid use that got them all fired up about that? I didn’t see the show, and it basically aired during the Oscars, which couldn’t have helped it’s ratings, but was there any new information in it?

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