Overnights While Staffer Contributes
downplays the "possible" connection between the Lincoln bedroom
stars, networks executives and news chiefs among overnight guests. And
a photo reveals who at ABC attended a Democratic fundraiser.
3. What's the
big deal? CNN's Bernard Shaw says "the same thing was done by
major developments -- on Hubbell and the drive to make immigrants citizens
-- are being ignored.
5. The Senate
holds hearings on the TV ratings. Get the facts in the MRC/PTC study
cited Wednesday by USA Today.
won't believe the title of the college course George Stephanopoulos will
The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News as well as CNN's The World Today
led Tuesday night (February 25) with the news that Bill Clinton was
directly involved implementing a plan to use White House bedrooms for
fundraising. But not ABC's World News Tonight.
Dan Rather and
Tom Brokaw set the story to rhyme. Rather opened the CBS Evening News:
"The Clinton Hilton. Turns out it was President Clinton's own idea to
invite heavy money political contributors to stay overnight at the White
House. And he defends it."
CBS aired a story
by Rita Braver followed by a piece from Bob Schieffer on Trent Lott
suggesting he'd shut down the Senate investigation if Attorney General
Reano named an independent counsel.
Miklaszewski's lead story Tom Brokaw announced on NBC: "It's a great
honor to spend a night at the White House, but for hundreds of people in
the last four years 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue turned out to be the most
expensive bed and breakfast in North America. They stayed and they paid.
Whether the two are connected, you decide."
Miklaszewski concluded his story: "And Trent Lott has joined a
growing number of Republicans and Democrats calling for an independent
counsel to investigate Democratic fundraising inside the Clinton White
ABC seemed to be
in a parallel universe where ABC is an acronym for blaming Anybody But
Clinton. The February 25 World News Tonight began with a story on credit
card debt followed by a full report on Clinton's anti-drug plan. Then a
commercial break. The third story, seven minutes into the show, took up
the Clinton role in getting the overnights going. Peter Jennings noted
Lott's call for an independent counsel, but was less sure of what the
"Senator Lott speaks out after he learns, as do we, about a White
House memo having to do with big donors and a possible connection to
overnight stays at the White House"
Donvan concluded his story by relaying the White House's "everybody
does it" spin:
"The White House response to what's in those documents comes down to
this: If people don't like what's going on here, don't blame the White
House, blame the law that allows it. John Donvan, ABC News, at the White
devoted itself to Clinton's fundraising schemes. Ted Koppel took a harder
line than did Jennings, grilling White House special counsel Lanny Davis,
the sole guest. In one humorous exchange, Koppel exposed the lack of real
knowledge held by the man spewing the line of the day:
Koppel: "Here I'm looking at the President's notation on the back. It
says 'yes pursue all three options promptly and get other names at
$100,000 or more, $50,000 or more.' We're not even talking about anyone
that the President necessarily knows, let alone friends, as long as they
gave $100,000 or more or $50,000 or more."
Davis: "Ted, with all due respect that's your assumption without any
evidence. The President--"
Koppel cut off Davis: "No, no. I'm just asking you based on what we
have here, and that's all I can go on right now. And with all due respect
to you, you weren't even at the White House before December so you don't
have a clue what was going on there last year."
While it's nice that the networks finally decided that using overnight
White House stays to raise money is news:
-- From January 1 through February 25 ABC aired 40 episodes of Nightline.
Tuesday night's was the first show of the year devoted to a Clinton
fundraising scandal. But Nightline has done three 1997 shows on Newt
Gingrich's ethics, MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen reports. (The January 13
Nightline examined the Paula Jones case.)
-- The news that Clinton rewarded donors with a White House room for a
night first broke on the front page of the Washington Post on Sunday,
December 15. The networks hardly jumped on it with none mentioning the
revelation that morning, night or next day. Network viewers first heard
about it eight days later on CBS This Morning. NBC didn't bother reporting
it until January 21 -- five weeks later.
Several Hollywood Stars and network executives were sprinkled among the
831 names made public of the 900 plus overnight White House guests in
Clinton's first term. Here are some of the interesting names I observed in
the list run by the New York Times and Washington Times on February 26:
- Candice Bergen
- Chevy Chase
- Ted Danson
- Jane Fonda
- Tom Hanks
Lahti (star of Chicago Hope which last week aired the Ted Kennedy/Ron
Silver socializing health care diatribe described in the February 19
From the news and network executive ranks:
-- Ted Turner
-- Rick Kaplan, the ABC Television specials producer who, while he was
Executive Producer of Prime Time Live in 1992, advised Clinton on how to
counter Gennifer Flowers.
-- Leslie Moonves, President of CBS Television who allowed Chicago Hope to
be used as a Clinton Care platform and who commissioned the CBS movie,
which aired January 21, on the wonders of the Family Leave Act. A January
1 AP story, that I didn't manage to report in CyberAlert at the time,
noted that Moonves played golf with the President during Renaissance
Also on the list:
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, though I can't be sure it's the same Dr. Nancy
Snyderman who serves as a health correspondent for Good Morning America
and is a frequent fill-in host. But if it is, she's not the only GMA air
talent who backs the Clintons and the Democratic cause.
ABC wasn't the only network to take a skeptical tone toward the White
House overnights revelations. Interviewing Republican Congressman Dan
Burton on the February 25 Inside Politics, Bernard Shaw asked: "How
can you keep a straight face when you talk about this President, who is a
Democrat, inviting people to the White House -- big, heavy rollers,
contributors --when the same thing was done by Republican
Check your U.S. News & World Report carefully. The March 3 issue
carries a story on Clinton's fundraising illustrated by a two-page photo
of Clinton addressing a February 18 Democratic Senatorial Campaign
Committee fundraiser in New York City. Attendees paid "either $10,000
in direct contributions or $25,000 in soft money," The Washington
Now, if you have the magazine, look in the middle of the portion of the
photo on page 32. Read the name tag of the man with glasses: "Arthur
Miller." He's GMA's legal editor and a Harvard Law professor. I must
admit I didn't catch this -- C-SPAN's Brian Lamb pointed it out on Monday
morning's Washington Journal show.
have been unable to offer any proof that Reagan or Bush did the same
thing. In fact, Bush had one third as many overnight guests.
pointed out that Clinton "brought arms dealers into the White House
to have lunch with him," Shaw turned incredulous: "Mr. Chairman,
are you implying that a President of the United States can be
Wednesday night all the networks carried follow-up stories on the White
House bedrooms/fundraising controversy, but two other significant scandal
developments have gone unnoticed by the networks:
-- The February
25 Los Angeles Times ran a front page story headlined: "Clinton
Intermediary Kept in Touch with Hubbell." Reporter David Willman
discovered: "In public, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary
Rodham Clinton for nearly three years have maintained a firm distance from
former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell since their longtime
friend resigned and pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges. But
in private, the Clintons have stayed quietly in touch with Hubbell --
through a trusted White House aide who has acted as a confidential
"During the 16 months that Hubbell spent in prison, the White House
aide, Marsha Scott, frequently visited him....And when Hubbell was first
appearing before a grand jury investigating the Whitewater controversy,
Scott traveled to Little Rock to confer with him."
The February 26
Washington Times reported that Congressman Gerald Soloman, "the
chairman of the House committee investigating Webster Hubbell's ties to
the Lippo Group said yesterday the White House may have obstructed justice
through an aide's meetings" with Hubbell.
So far, nothing
about this matter on ABC, CBS or NBC. Nor on CNN's World Today Monday or
-- From a front
page February 25 Los Angeles Times story: "Admitting a breakdown of
citizenship procedures, the Justice Department conceded Monday that
180,000 immigrants were naturalized during the last two years without
undergoing the full criminal background checks required by law....House
Republicans immediately labeled the review as 'alarming' confirmation of
allegations that the Clinton administration improperly expedited
citizenship applications in a politically motivated effort to bolster
Democratic ranks..." The New York Times also put the admission on its
ABC, CBS, NBC and
CNN's The World Today: No coverage.
On Thursday (February 27) a Senate committee will hold hearings on the new
TV ratings system children. As you may recall, a MRC/Parents Television
Council study released February 11 proved the failure of the system. A
Wednesday (February 26) USA Today editorial cited the study to support
their argument that the ratings are too vague: "The Media Research
Center's Parents Television Council clocked 150 network hours over two
weeks and found three-letter, four-letter and five-letter vulgarities
popping up in 52% of PG shows. Sexual references, including jokes about
masturbation techniques, were in 55% of PG shows."
Angeles Times also carries a big ratings story that begins by looking at
how MRC analyst Crissy Brookhart evaluated the shows for the MRC/PTC
To read the study
put together by Tom Johnson, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/ptc/wratcov.html
Wednesday night the CBS Evening News ran two very tough pieces on
Clinton's fundraising practices. Rita Braver began and ended her story
with clips of a 1962 tour of the Lincoln bedroom with Jacqueline Kennedy
explaining the history of the room's important guests. Braver concluded:
"And even some of the President's advisers were shaking their heads
in sorrow that President Clinton may have cheapened a symbol of American
"Reality Check" look at the controversy Eric Engberg included
this August 4, 1995 soundbite from Bill Clinton: "It is wrong to
raise money on the promise of guaranteeing specific kinds of access. That
is wrong and we have stopped that."
On a related
matter, scanning through Wednesday's New York Times I caught a piece on
how George Stephanopoulos will teach a course at Columbia University in
the fall. The title of the course: "From Cup to Lip: Presidential
Promises and Presidential Action." Stephanoupoulos should be able to
offer many examples of the lack of any connection.
-- Brent Baker
night at 8pm ET/PT Fox will carry the NAACP Image Awards. They'll present
an award to Bryant Gumbel.
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