ABC & NBC Ignore Dead; GOP's Disastrous Disaster; Clift's Idea
- 1) Dead
people and people who never existed contributed to the DNC. NBC
ignores the news and ABC focuses on donations to the GOP.
- 2) ABC
devotes more time to Chelsea's graduation as Bill Clinton's words
evoke an emotional response from Peter Jennings.
- 3) After
emphasizing how Republicans are delaying disaster aid, ABC
discovers even conservatives are mad at House Republicans. The
delay will "kill us" says one North Dakotan.
- 4) Eleanor
Clift says sex life of Paula Jones should be probed and that the
Constitution should be changed to protect Clinton.
- 5) CBS names
an Executive Producer for Bryant Gumbel's show. Good news: Three
of the last three news magazines he ran failed.
1) Friday's New York Times
carried a front page exclusive headlined: "Donations to Democrats
Traced to Phony Firms and Dead Person." Reporters Don Van Natta
Jr. and Christopher Drew discovered:
"At least $200,000 in
contributions to President Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign came
from donors that federal investigators now suspect were fictitious,
including checks from several phony corporations and a $3,000 draft
funneled through the account of a dead woman."
Big news, this evidence of a
systematic effort to hide the true source of money spent by Democrats?
Not at the networks. ABC's GMA, CBS This Morning and NBC's Today all
ignored the revelation on Friday morning. By that evening they surely
had plenty of time to put together stories, right? Yes, but two of the
three broadcast networks didn't. The CBS Evening News aired a story,
but not NBC Nightly News and ABC's World News Tonight. (CNN aired a
piece by Brooks Jackson on The World Today.)
Noting that at least 20
individuals and corporations that donated to the DNC cannot be
located, Dan Rather declared on the June 6 CBS Evening News:
"This is the strongest evidence yet of attempts to hide the real
donors. One sure clue: some donors to the Democratic National
Committee, to the DNC, were DOA, dead and buried long before the
checks were written. Bill Plante is at the White House. Bill, what
about these grateful dead?" Plante showed a couple of checks and
noted that they were submitted by John Huang and Charlie Trie.
ABC skipped the development,
but what did World News Tonight find newsworthy: Republican
fundraising. After spending 24 seconds noting that the Justice
Department says the Supreme Court should hear an appeal from the White
House to keep Kenneth Starr from reading the notes lawyers took in
meetings with Hillary Clinton, Jennings to 30 seconds to alert
"And there's a note
tonight about Republicans and campaign money. New evidence that
foreign money may have been used to elect Republican congressional
candidates in 1994. A letter from a Hong Kong financial company to the
Republican Party Chairman released this evening says $2 million
dollars was sent from the Hong Kong company."
So, ABC has a consistent
standard that news about foreign money in congressional campaigns is
always worth reporting? Let's go to the videotape.
-- COMPARISON #1:
"FEC Probing Illegal Funds from India," declared an April 23
page one headline in The Hill, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.
Reporter Jock Friedly discovered:
"In the first solid
evidence of illegal campaign contributions by a foreign government
official in a dozen years, the Federal Election Commission is
investigating at least $46,000 in contributions from a senior Indian
intelligence officer to 18 current and former Democratic congressional
candidates. The confidential FEC investigation -- which some critics
fear has run off-track -- focuses on the activities of Lalit Gadhia, a
long-time Maryland political activist who has ties to Gov. Parris
Glendening (D) and pled guilty last summer to a felony charge of
making false statements in campaign disclosures. Gadhia has admitted
receiving $100 bills from a top Indian Embassy official and illegally
laundering the cash through Indian-Americans to election campaigns of
ABC Coverage? As reported in
the April 25 CyberAlert, none of the networks picked up the Hill
-- COMPARISON #2:
About two months ago the Wall Street Journal reported that a large
donor's money may have come from the Chinese government. The April 1
story began: "Charlie Yah Lin Trie, a central figure in the
controversy over foreign contributions to the Democratic Party,
received a series of substantial wire transfers in 1995 and 1996 from
a bank operated by the Chinese government. The transfers from the New
York office of the Bank of China, usually in increments of $50,000 or
$100,000, came at a time when Mr. Trie was directing large donations
to the Democratic National Committee."
ABC Coverage? As elucidated
in the April 2 CyberAlert, nothing on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS
Evening News or NBC Nightly News. (CNN's The World Today did offer a
brief anchor-read item.)
2) So what did ABC find more
newsworthy than the scandals of either party? Chelsea Clinton's
graduation from the District's Sidwell Friends school. ABC devoted
more than a minute to the subject. World News Tonight viewers heard an
audio clip of President Clinton's address to the students (the media
were not allowed to attend). The clip ended: "....Though we have
raised you for this moment of departure and we are very proud of you,
a part of us longs to hold you once more as we did when you could
barely walk, to read to you just one more time Goodnight Moon or
Curious George or the Little Engine that Could."
The passage moved Peter
Jennings emotionally. Immediately following, he sighed and uttered:
"whoofs." (As in "who" with a "efs"
Tom Brokaw, who also ignored
the New York Times story, played a nearly identical clip of Clinton,
but wasn't so impressed. Brokaw playfully lectured: "Hey Mr.
President, don't forget Green Eggs and Ham."
Of course in all the fawning
over this life passage, as Mona Charen pointed out on Sunday's Capital
Gang, none noted that while Chelsea attended a private school Clinton
opposes using vouchers to let his neighbors escape District schools.
3) Network coverage of the
disaster relief bill is looking like a re-run of the government
shutdown story. The media blame the Republican House and then do
stories on how the public blames the Republicans. As documented in the
January 1996 MediaWatch study of the late 1995 shutdown, conducted by
Tim Lamer, in the 48 network stories in which reporters allocated
blame, "23 assigned blame to the Republicans, but not one held
Clinton culpable (25 blamed both)." To read the full study go to:
Friday's World News Tonight
story presented a case study. ABC reporter John Cochran began:
"Flood victims in Grand Forks do not understand why Republican
leaders refuse to pass an aid bill without strings attached."
Tomi Lundby, flood victim:
"The river took our home, our posessions, our neighbors, our
neighborhood and we still have our spirit. But the government is
taking our spirit and our strength. And that's what's going to kill
Cochran: "Doug Spray is
a life-long conservative Republican."
Doug Spray: "I believed
in these guys and I voted for some of them and I'm beginning to lose
my faith in the conservative party."
Cochran: "What makes
flood victims especially angry is when Republican leaders insist there
is plenty of short term help available. Food and temporary housing --
Senator Trent Lott:
"Trailers. And if they need more we'll make them in Mississippi
for them real quick. We can turn out a bunch of them in nothing
Cochran: "People whose
homes and businesses were destroyed say GOP leaders should realize
that what they really need is money to rebuild."
After a soundbite from a
flood victim, Cochran continued: "Republicans say they're only
doing what both parties have done for years -- trying to force a
reluctant President to accept items he does not want by tacking them
onto a popular bill, like disaster relief."
Following another Lott bite,
Cochran concluded: "One item Republicans want would prevent the
Census Bureau from using counting methods they fear might inflate the
number of minorities and others who usually vote Democratic. Another
item would guarantee there would not be another government shutdown
this fall, like the recent ones that hurt Republicans in the election.
But some Republicans in Congress now worry that the delay in disaster
aide will hurt them again so they're urging their leaders to stop
playing hardball. No sign of that yet. John Cochran, ABC News, Capitol
The Republican position would
have seemed more persuasive if Cochran mentioned that the Constitution
demands an "enumerated" Census; that given how the Democrats
used the INS in 1996 to create more favorable voters that there's a
legitimate fear of what the administration will do with the Census; or
that Clinton himself said after the last shutdown that he'd never let
it happen again -- so why does he oppose that portion of the bill. And
removing the Census and shutdown portions would hardly leave a
"clean" bill. Clinton supports riders funding troops in
Bosnia, more WIC funding and addtional SSI dollars for disabled
4) Forced to choose between
her feminist and Clinton-defender halves, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift
decided to abandon the usual feminist line on sexual harassment and
instead rationalize Clinton's legal maneuvers.
-- First, MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens caught Clift defending tactics employed by attorney
Bob Bennett, tactics so offensive to women's groups that though the
case involves Clinton even they denounced Bennett. From the June 2
edition of CNBC's Equal Time:
"The discovery process
works both ways though. And we have already seen that Bennett has
brought a former lover to Washington. Interviewed a former lover of
Paula Jones'. I think it's fair game in a sexual, yes it is, it's fair
-- Second, what we really
need Clift thinks, apparently serious, is a constitutional amendment
to protect heroic men like Clinton, who are battling for women's
progress, from bothersome lawsuits from women he personally abuses. As
reported in the June 16 New Republic, the Jones case has generated
"its comic media moments." Among them: "There was
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, interviewed on a Washington radio station,
floating the idea of 'a constitutional amendment, maybe, to ban
lawsuits' against the President."
I don't recall Clift
suggesting a law to protect federal judges from uncorroborated charges
about events that allegedly took place a decade earlier. Clift didn't
have any doubts about Anita Hill, insisting on the October 12, 1991
McLaughlin Group that Hill "has done nothing to suggest she has a
credibility problem, whereas Clarence Thomas has done a lot to suggest
that he can lie pretty easily."
As opposed to Bill Clinton?
5) The still yet to be titled
Wednesday prime time news hour on CBS with Bryant Gumbel now has an
Executive Producer: Michael Rubin, who held the same position with
Coast to Coast, America Tonight and Street Stories (hosted by Ed
Bradley). Though Coast to Coast, which ran for a few weeks in January,
will return for a six week fill-in run this summer, the three CBS news
magazines all share one thing in common: they didn't make it and were
canceled within months.
Is it too much to wish that
Rubin's touch will also doom Gumbel's hour? Here's hoping that Rubin
goes four for four.
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