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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| June 20, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 91) |


Everyone Ignores Brown Revelations; Reporter Backs Quotas

  1. Rest of media ignore Nolanda Hill's allegations against Ron Brown as aired on ABC's Prime Time Live. Even ABC failed to pursue the revelations as neither GMA or World News Tonight mentioned them.
  2. If affirmative action means employing quotas, that's okay with Gannett's Deborah Mathis.
  3. Bias blast from the past. NBC News labels Gerald Ford as "extremely conservative."

1) As the June 19 CyberAlert predicted might happen, the rest of the media failed to pick up on Wednesday's Prime Time Live story by Brian Ross relaying the explosive charges about Ron Brown by his business and personal associate Nolanda Hill. She confirmed allegations about improper investment returns that Brown had denied and provided eyewitness accounts that raise questions about whether potential payoffs from a foreign nation influenced Clinton policy. Plus, she charged that Clinton sent Brown to China to close a deal for the Lippo Group.

Still, CBS and NBC didn't report the allegations. But neither did ABC on any of its other shows. MRC news analysts Jim Forbes, Steve Kaminski and Gene Eliasen checked the Thursday morning shows and informed me that the Prime Time Live revelations were not mentioned on Today or CBS This Morning, nor even on ABC's own Good Morning America.

Thursday night (June 19) the blackout continued, with not a syllable about the subject appearing on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News. ("Live Event" coverage of a Clinton speech wiped out CNN's Inside Politics, but nothing appeared on CNN's Prime News Thursday night.) ABC's Nightline didn't touch the Brown matter Wednesday or Thursday either. Thursday's newspapers didn't have any stories, but ABC held the exclusive story until broadcast time so there's a chance newspapers may catch up on Friday. But I wouldn't count on it.

ABC isn't even featuring their big scoop on the home page of their Web site. It's as if they are embarrassed by it. But abcnews.com does now have the story transcript, if a bit buried. The June 19 CyberAlert ran a summary of the key allegations, but since no one in the rest of the media is reporting any of this, here are some excerpts from the story so you'll know the specifics of what Nolanda Hill revealed. I've edited it down to the key parts, sans the soundbites from former GOP Congressman Wiliam Clinger telling of Hill's inside knowledge and of all of the denials from Reid Weingarten, Brown's lawyer.

From the June 18 Prime Time Live:

Brian Ross: "...Brown soon became perhaps the most investigated member of the Clinton administration, surrounded by questions of bribery and influence peddling, the target of a federal grand jury and a special prosecutor. And behind the scenes through it all was the so-called 'mystery woman,' Brown's little-known business partner, Nolanda Hill....Now coming forward to tell her story, Nolanda Hill describes what she says was a seven-year long business and personal relationship that put her in the middle of Ron Brown's Washington...."

Ross: "As Secretary of Commerce, did he use drugs?"

Nolanda Hill: "Um, yes."

Ross: "Were you there?"

Hill: "Yes."

Ross: "It happened, she said, frequently at her Washington apartment, where Brown would come to relax after work."

Hill: "He smoked pot, and he once did a line of cocaine."

Ross: "Nolanda Hill was the millionaire owner of two television stations when she first met Brown, whose high-powered Washington law firm did work for Hill's company. She soon took him in as a business partner...."

Ross: "Trouble with money began, she says, as soon as President Clinton asked Brown to serve as Secretary of Commerce."

Hill: "We sat down and we looked at what his monthly expenses were versus what his known income was going to be, and he was, you know, $7,000 in the hole when he woke up on day one of any month."

Ross: "Which Nolanda Hill says would twice lead Brown into schemes involving under-the-table money. The first, an offer from the group claiming to represent the government of Vietnam, seeking to get American trade restrictions lifted. Hill says Brown met with them both before and, more significantly, after his selection as Secretary of Commerce."

Hill: "And he said, 'Do you think it would be worth a million dollars?' And I said, 'Ron, this is crazy. I mean, it's nuts.'"

Ross: "But he was trying anyway?"

Hill: "He was considering it. He saw it as an opportunity to afford to be Commerce Secretary."

Ross: "And were bank accounts set up overseas?"

Hill: "There was a bank account set up, as I understand it."

Ross: "In the middle of it, one of the men allegedly involved -- a Vietnamese-American named Binh Ly -- went to the FBI telling of a plan to funnel some $700,000 to Brown through a secret bank account in Singapore."

After showing video of Brown denying the charge that he got money in exchange for advocating that trade restrictions be lifted, Ross asked Hill: "Is that truthful?"

Hill: "No."

Ross: "He lied?"

Hill: "Yes."

Ross: "But Hill says no money ever changed hands, and the bank account was not used because Brown got a tip the FBI was on to him, something FBI agents on the case have told ABC News they always suspected...."

Ross: "The most serious charge Hill makes is that two big Democratic contributors, Nora and Gene Lum, shown here at Brown's funeral, actually did pass money to Ron Brown when he was Secretary of Commerce."

Hill: "The first number was $60,000. We discussed $60,000."

Ross: "The Lums, who just this month pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, have been under investigation by federal prosecutors for several years over their relationship with Ron Brown and the Democratic Party. In 1993, the Lums took over an Oklahoma gas company called Dynamic Energy Resources that sought special government contracts as minority-owned business. Then, the Lums hired Brown's 28-year-old son, Michael, and made him a well-paid officer of the company -- a convenient way, Hill says, to move money to the father...."

Ross: "...Why would the son give the father money?"

Hill: "Well, the official version from Reid Weingarten is to pay back some of his law school fees, which I fought with Ron about and told him that was the dumbest thing I ever heard. And I even told Reid that that was stupid to say that."

Ross: "What did Ron tell you was going on?"

Hill: "Ron needed money to pay his taxes."

Ross: "...One question many want answered is how the man now at the center of the FBI's investigation of illegal fundraising -- John Huang -- how did he get a top-level job at Ron Brown's Commerce Department? Nolanda Hill says she knows."

Hill: "Ron told me that the White House put him there, and it was Ron's opinion the White House meant Hillary in this instance."

Ross: "...The White House denies that, but Hill says it was also the White House that sent Brown on this 1994 trip to China to urge government officials to approve a billion-dollar power plant project involving the Indonesian Lippo Bank, a bank owned by a family that has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bill Clinton's various campaigns."

The full transcript can be read at: http://www.abcnews.com/onair/ptl/html_files/transcripts/ ptl0618a.html

In the past, some have told me these direct addresses don't always work even when they are accurate. So, here are the click by click instructions: 1) go to http://www.abcnews.com
2) on the left side of the page click "on air"
3) on the left look for "Weekly" and then under it click "Prime Time Live."
4) You'll see "Mystery Women" listed. Click that and you'll get the transcript.

2) Usually affirmative action supporters say that they oppose quotas. But in discussing Clinton's race speech, one reporter conceded that quotas are fine with her. On CNN's Capital Gang on June 15 Deborah Mathis, a Washington reporter for the Gannett News Service, at first argued against giving someone a position just because of their race, but seconds later she said that would really be fine with her:

"I think the President was correct and once again reaffirming. His support for affirmative action and the need for it, which must not be mistaken with tokenism. They are two different things and I think often in the conversation or in the debate, we confuse tokenism, which is, in my view, giving someone a job, a position, an enrollment or whatever because they are whatever, as opposed to affirmative action, which is saying, 'You must be qualified for this, but we're going to look farther out than we have been looking now.' That to me is affirmative action and I think we've been confusing the two too often. I don't blame people for being opposed to tokenism, I am too."

Really? As transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson, a bit later Mathis contradicted herself:

"Well, you know, I have to say that I understand her trepidation, Mona's [Charen] trepidation over it, however it can be enforced by the law. It does amount to, in effect, some quotas, but you gotta show me that you've done something, and that's what affirmative action says: 'Don't just tell me I've got a good intention here. You've gotta prove something,' and to the effect that that equals quotas, so be it, but they are not prescribed quotas."

3) I've only been monitoring the media since the early Reagan years, so sometimes MSNBC's Time & Again reminds me that liberal bias hardly began as a reaction to Reagan. The show uses NBC News video to recall major news events of the past decades. On the June 18 edition MSNBC showed NBC coverage from the day Richard Nixon left the White House.

In one clip from August of 1974 the late John Chancellor asked NBC News reporter Ron Nessen what kind of policies Americans could expect from President Gerald Ford. Nessen, who would later jump to the White House as Ford's Press Secretary, and therefore one would assume would at least be no more hostile than his colleagues toward the incoming President, suggested:

"He doesn't believe that school children should be bussed out of their district to further integration. He believes in revenue sharing, that the states and localities ought to be given money by the federal government and let them decide what to do with it. His basic philosophy is extremely conservative. I think Gerry Ford is a likeable man and I think perhaps people like him and tend to overlook the fact that he is extremely conservative in his policies. His House voting record was that way and the speeches he's made as Vice President have been that way."

Gerald Ford "extremely conservative"? One can only imagine how the networks labeled a true conservative. Well, maybe we have made some progress. In 1974 the media labeled moderate Republicans as extreme. Twenty years later moderates are now tagged as "conservative" (recall coverage of Susan Molinari's jump to CBS) and you have to really be conservative to be called "extreme."

-- Brent Baker




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