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Rivals Aggressively Cover Misfortunes of WABC’s Heidi Jones

Viewers are used to seeing personal swipes coming from cable news competitors like Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly but it’s rare that network and local news outlets will trump up the misfortunes of their rivals. But that’s what appears to be happening in the case of WABC’s Heidi Jones.

Jones, a weekend weathercaster for WABC and sometimes fill-in for “Good Morning America,” has been charged with lying to police about an attempted rape in Central Park. The New York Post broke the story on Wednesday, reporting that Jones had admitted to making up her account of being dragged into a wooded area by a hispanic man who tried to rape her. She faces a misdemeanor charge and, if convicted, could face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine. Jones has been suspended by WABC pending an internal investigation.

Since Jones’ charge came to light, CBS and NBC have been thoroughly covering the story, perhaps more than they would if Jones was not a member of ABC’s flagship station. NBC sent veteran reporter Mike Taibbi to report on the story from Central Park on Thursday morning and Meredith Veira spoke with “Today” psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz about Jones’ potential mindset.

CBS gave the story a similar treatment on Thursday’s “Early Show,” with Harry Smith discussing the situation with psychologist Jennifer Hartstein and CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford. WCBS also covered the story during all of their daytime and evening newscasts on Wednesday. (Video here)

For its part, WABC reported on Wednesday afternoon that Jones had been suspended. Her lawyer told the Associated Press that Jones plans to plead not guilty.

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