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Contra hearings: revelations mount, but is the public listening? Americans tune out hearings, but not Reagan's role in affair

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The Iran-contra hearings haven't bowled over public opinion in Albuquerque. Or Pittsburgh. In Marceline, Mo., a hike in cable-television rates made more news. In Beulah, N.D., ``we don't hear a lot about that subject,'' says Ken Beauchamp, managing editor of the local paper.

Middle America, it seems, is not very interested in the Iran-contra investigations by Congress.

``Lately, I've been avoiding the congressional hearings,'' says radio talk-show host Mike Levine at KDKA in Pittsburgh. His national topics this particular night: the hard times at the PTL ministry and a newly published photo of former presidential candidate Gary Hart with actress Donna Rice. ``Against this world of wild, juicy things, why would anybody want to talk about those congressional hearings? They're a bore,'' Mr. Levine says.

The reaction is much the same in San Francisco.

``The average person isn't paying that much attention,'' says Ronn Owens, radio talk show host for KGO. ``It just doesn't have the spark that other controversies have.''

There are exceptions, of course.

When Democratic Sen. David L. Boren went home to Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend, he says he found more support for his role in the congressional inquiry than any other action he has taken in the Senate.

In Miami, portions of the large Cuban-American population are concerned because they fear a weakening of American support for the contras in Nicaragua.

``Our fight against communism has been paralyzed,'' says Carlos Perez, president of Concerned Citizens for Democracy, a Miami-based nonprofit group.

But the number of people around the country closely following the investigations is quite small, says California pollster Mervin Field, probably less than 10 percent.


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