Light on Lums; Equating Tuskegee to End of Quotas
- Guilty pleas
from the Lums get covered, but in very short stories well into the
newscasts. Only CBS mentioned charges of influence-peddling.
experiments, ending race-based quotas for medical school
admission. To CBS, they're equivalent examples of why blacks can
no longer trust the government.
Now on the MRC's Web site:
"Team Clinton, the Starting Line-Up of the Pro-Clinton Press
Corps." The booklet contains the most colorful pro-Clinton and
anti-conservative quotes from 28 of the most prominent television
reporters and commentators -- from Ken Bode to Jim Wooten, with Al
Hunt and Peter Jennings in between. Go to:
Wednesday Nora and Gene Lum pleaded guilty to funneling campaign
contributions through straw donors. All the networks reported the
first charges from the Justice Department investigation of campaign
fundraising, but all ran the story well into the newscast and, except
for CBS, failed to mention the influence-peddling allegation
surrounding the Lums and their dealings with former Commerce Secretary
-- About 15 minutes into
World News Tonight, ABC turned to the news in its new
"Briefings" segment, a series of three short items read by
Peter Jennings, each followed by Q&A from Jennings with a
reporter. Jennings announced:
"In Washington today two
Asian-Americans pleaded guilty to arranging illegal campaign
contributions to Democratic candidates in the 1994 congressional
elections...." Jennings noted that the Lums were "very
close" with Ron Brown, but provided no details.
In Q&A, reporter Brian
Ross said the Lums were "part of the Democratic fundraising
machine" and observed that Nora Lum was close to John Huang. But
Jennings tried to deflect attention from the Clintons by raising the
everybody does it theme: "Can this then be a real window do you
think into foreign money in U.S. politics?"
The entire segment lasted
barely a minute.
-- Ten minutes into NBC
Nightly News Tom Brokaw gave Jim Miklaszewski about a minute and
fifteen seconds the explain the news. Miklaszewski offered a tougher
assessment than ABC, explaining that "Federal investigators claim
the Lums used their political connections to cash in on big business
deals. And those connections reach all the way into Clinton White
House. The Lums made frequent visits to the White House, including a
state dinner." Miklaszewski concluded by reporting: "Federal
investigators tell NBC News they're looking into allegations that the
Lums also funneled illegal campaign contributions into the
-- CBS Evening News led with
a "CBS News exclusive" on how Hillary Clinton won't be
indicted by the grand jury assembled in the District. About 14 minutes
later, Dan Rather announced the guilty pleas from the Lums. Rita
Braver observed that "Most people have never even heard of the
Lums. But they are very controversial." Indeed, the networks have
ignored their story, though they were central to the independent
counsel probe of Brown aborted by his death. But Braver then proceeded
to tell viewers why the couple is so controversial:
"They began to raise
money for the Democrats in about 1992. They had business interests in
Asia and they became good friends with the late Commerce Secretary Ron
Brown. In fact, he hired their daughter to work at the Commerce
Department and they hired his son to be a director in their company
and gave him five percent of the stock. And there have been
suggestions and allegations - these are only allegations - that this
was part of an illegal influence-peddling scheme..."
-- In April, the usually
left-wing Frontline show on PBS examined the Lums, but the program
failed to generate much media interest. For the May MediaWatch,
Associate Editor Tim Graham wrote a short summary of the show for our
On the Bright Side feature. Here's an excerpt that explains to
connection between the Lums and Mack McLarty:
Frontline Finally Arrives
More than four years in, the
PBS documentary series Frontline finally aired its first program
investigating a Clinton administration scandal. In the April 15
program "The Fixers," correspondent Peter Boyer plowed new
ground on the Asian fundraising connection of Eugene and Nora Lum of
Boyer explained how the Lums
were major Democratic fundraisers among Asian Americans during the
1992 campaign, and came to know party chairman Ron Brown. Meanwhile,
in Oklahoma, utility regulators with the state Corporation Commission
were uncovering a regular pattern of bribery and corruption in the
awarding of natural gas contracts, including bribery by Arkla Gas -
led by Mack McLarty, soon to become White House Chief of Staff.
One gas supplier sued to
bring the corruption into the open. In came the Lums, offering to buy
the supplier - if they'd drop the suit. Oklahoma Corporation
Commissioner Bob Anthony told PBS the Lums had "no experience, no
reserves, and they end up getting a contract to sell enormous volumes
of natural gas over a 10-year period of time, and their biggest claim
to fame seems to be their political connections....Mack McLarty had a
motive and an interest in seeing that these lawsuits and the discovery
and the public disclosure go away."
2) Not giving
blacks a preference in medical school admission is just as bad as the
"Tuskegee experiment," in which black syphilis suffers were
misled and not treated, Dan Rather suggested last Friday night.
Rather told May 16 CBS
Evening News viewers:
"Earlier tonight we
reported the President's apology for medical experiments that allowed
black Americans to die of syphilis. The President noted how badly this
hurt public trust in government, especially among minorities. The same
criticism is being made today on another score. As CBS News
correspondent John Blackstone reports, it's the fallout from
California's voter- approved ban on state affirmative action
To fully appreciate the bias
of the story, you need to read the whole report. Though Blackstone
offers time to Ward Connerly, he's outnumbered by quota proponents. As
transcribed my MRC intern Jessica Anderson, here's the entire story:
"In the lecture halls at the University of California Medical
School in San Francisco, the end of affirmative action will mean
dramatically fewer black and Hispanic students next year, 25 percent
fewer, and more whites and Asians. To Ward Connerly, who led the
campaign to end racial preferences in California, it's proof he did
the right thing."
"This is like a bucket of cold water in the face of society
that these numbers are going down as dramatically as they are. But
it really says that for all these years we have been propping the
system up with these horrendous preferences."
"But fourth year med students Derrick Butler and Cynthia Fowler
say the dropping numbers will make it harder for those who follow
"We have the largest class of African-American students, there
were 16 of us when we started, and now, that was wonderful."
"This year they'll all graduate, but with fewer minorities
entering medical school, eventually there will be fewer black and
Hispanic doctors. And a study by the University of California just
released shows there's already a shortage of doctors in low-income
and minority communities. Dr. Kevin Brumbach is one of the authors
of the study."
Dr. Kevin Brumbach:
"What we found is that minority physicians are much more likely
to serve minority patients. They're much more likely, than white
physicians, to go out to communities that don't have many doctors
and to set up their practice there."
"While 26 percent of California's population is Hispanic, only
four percent of the state's doctors are Hispanic. Without
affirmative action, the gap is expected to grow. Dr. Enrique
Gonzalez rejects the suggestion that those who have benefitted from
affirmative action are somehow less qualified."
Dr. Enrique Gonzalez:
"Medical school is very rigorous, and once you're in there, you
have to produce just like the next person."
"Derrick Butler intends to practice medicine in the
"I've chosen to serve that community, myself."
"But he says, others who might do the same may now never become
doctors, discouraged by the end of affirmative action."
"It sends a message to the rest of the nation that California
isn't welcoming to, you know, students of color."
"Indeed, the main reason for the drop in medical school
enrollment next year is that minority students have chosen not to
apply. Many seem to believe no matter what their qualifications, the
welcome mat has been pulled in at California's universities. John
Blackstone, CBS News, San Francisco."
Not considered by Blackstone:
that affirmative action has failed. If the number of minorities
getting into grad schools falls when they no longer get a preference,
might that mean that affirmative action in college failed to bring
them up to the average of others? Or, maybe it just proves that a lot
of minorities got in all along that couldn't meet the standard set for
everyone else. If everyone is treated equally maybe more people will
trust the government now that it is no longer playing favorites.
No matter what the reality,
CBS pulled in the welcome mat on balanced reporting about the end of
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