BC Beat


With John Eggerton, Marisa Guthrie and Michael Malone

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C-SPAN Flashes Back to Watergate Hearings

The echoes of the Watergate hearings more than 30 years ago were unmistakable when the House Judiciary Committee opened its own hearings last Friday on allegations that the White House obstructed justice and manipulated the media in making its case to invade Iraq.

And if you watched the hearings on C-SPAN, you might've wondered if the public-affairs network was trying to play up those parallels.

Just before the network began carrying the hearings on C-SPAN 3, the channel was rerunning a 1994 forum called Watergate: Corruption of American Politics.

With a House committee chairman (in this case, Michigan Democrat John Conyers) raising the specter of impeachment, and a former Republican White House official (in this case, former press secretary Scott McClellan) being sworn in for high-profile judiciary hearings, was C-SPAN trying to get cute?

No, said C-SPAN spokesman Peter Kiley—complete coincidence.

Kiley said the package of programming had been scheduled weeks ago. The hearing was scheduled for C-SPAN 2, but was moved to CSPAN 3 Thursday night because the Senate was in session.

Frontline's Former Fan

Given some of Frontline's examinations of recent history—Bush's War, Cheney's Law, The Lost Year in Iraq—we're guessing the venerable PBS news program doesn't have many fans in the Bush White House.

Although some Frontline reports have been screened in House Foreign Relations Subcommittee meetings—including The Terrorist and the Superpower, the 1999 documentary that introduced PBS viewers to Osama bin Laden—the current administration hasn't exactly been supportive of the program's mission, having proposed to slash funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in half in 2009, by even more in 2010 and to nothing in 2011.

But there was a time, early in the Bush presidency, when the White House—specifically Vice President Dick Cheney—seemed to appreciate Frontline's work. After PBS stations reran The Terrorist and the Superpower in the days following 9/11, David Fanning, Frontline's executive producer, heard from Cheney's office.

"We got a call from the White House," Fanning recalls. "They said, 'The vice president would like a copy of this film.' So we said, 'We'll send it over right away.' They said, 'There's a car downstairs.'"

What did he expect: an address to Cheney's bunker?

Extra Innings

As the Mets and Yankees prepare for their inter-league Subway Series this weekend, let's quickly review the rules of Major League Baseball. Except for the American League's designated-hitter rule, the rules governing both the American and National leagues are the same: Batters get three strikes, games go nine innings, steroids are not allowed.

Why, then, does our cable programming guide allot three hours for Yankee games, but only 2½ hours for Met games? Does the Yanks' DH Hideki Matsui really eat up an extra half hour a game?

According to MLB figures, the Yankees have averaged 3 hours and 3 minutes per game this season, and the Mets come in at a slightly slimmer 2:57. Both have the dubious distinction of playing the longest contests in their respective leagues.

If Met games go nearly three hours, why would SNY set the guides for 2½ hours? The network says it's to help establish its nightly sports wrap-up program at 10 p.m. "We feel strongly about positioning Geico SportsNite as our nightly flagship sports news show year-round," says a spokesperson.

Too bad, then, for Met fans who record the game on their DVRs and miss the action after the 2½ hour mark. Then again, with the way the Mets bullpen has been imploding of late, perhaps the fans are better off.