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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| July 1, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 98) |


Foreign Scheme Begun in 1991; Stinging Starr; Top Ten

If you use AOL you may be reading this days from now. I've noticed that AOL mail delivery has become particularly slow. My personal AOL account has yet to receive the last four CyberAlerts. Normally, I would suggest that if your provider has problems that you go to the MRC Web site to read these updates, but unfortunately, our Web site on Town Hall is no more reliable than AOL. Town Hall has been down since Saturday and we don't know when it will be up again.

  1. The LA Times discovered that the Democratic scheme to raise foreign money goes back to a 1991 trip led by Ron Brown. But the networks skip the latest Brown revelation.
  2. Gwen Ifill, Gloria Borger, Linda Greenhouse, Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt all launch attacks on Ken Starr.
  3. Letterman's "Top Ten Revelations About President Clinton's Sexual History."

1) The search for foreign donations to fund Democratic campaigns may have been launched by Ron Brown in 1991, the Los Angles Times reported on Monday in a story headlined "DNC Seen as Exploring Foreign Funding in 1991 Politics: Overseas Trip Led by Then-Chairman Ron Brown Explored Avenues for Contributions, Records Show." What the Times uncovered contradicts Clinton administration claims that the scandal is limited to a few low- level fundraisers who got over-enthusiastic in 1996.

Coverage: Nothing Monday morning or Monday night on ABC, CBS and NBC. Just as the networks refused to pursue Nolanda Hill's charges aired on the June 18 Prime Time Live, so far they have ignored this latest wrinkle in Ron Brown's history.

Though ABC and CBS devoted half their Monday night shows to Hong Kong (and NBC about 80 percent), they all found time for full stories on Mike Tyson and other less than critical news stories. All three aired items on how Benedict Arnold's sunken ship has been located in Lake Champlain.

Monday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, couldn't find any time for the LA Times discovery, but managed to squeeze into the 7am newscast a story about an elephant at the LA zoo which fell over and couldn't get back up. Today also found time to note that Time and the New Yorker had reported that a former Arkansas state trooper had lied in stories he told about Clinton's infidelities.

Here are the opening paragraph's of LA Times reporter Alan Miller's front page June 30 piece:

"In cinematic terms, it may well have been the prequel to the epic 1996 Democratic fund-raising debacle. Foreshadowing key elements of last year's campaign-finance controversy, then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Ronald H. Brown and a coterie of Asian American activists -- individuals who now are central to federal investigations of foreign campaign contributions -- traveled to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Hawaii in late 1991. Their itinerary included meetings orchestrated by the fund-raisers, and their plans called for assessing future prospects for raising money in Taiwan and Hong Kong, according to a review of previously undisclosed records.

"Examined in hindsight, information about Brown's involvement in the trip could undercut efforts by Democratic officials and the White House to portray foreign-linked fund-raising activities as the work of rogue, low-level individuals operating without party knowledge or supervision.

"The 1991 trip, which has yet to draw the scrutiny of investigators, suggests that Brown, who later became President Clinton's Commerce Secretary and died last year, may have played a significant role in laying the groundwork for the Democrats' foreign-linked fund-raising. Money funneled into the DNC from Asia is at the core of ongoing Justice Department and congressional probes.

"Brown 'knew that the mother lode for Asian money was closely connected to Taiwan and Jakarta and Hong Kong,' said a confidant. 'Ron always had dual purposes in everything...one was raising money for the DNC.'...

"....The DNC entourage was joined in Taiwan by John Huang, who solicited at least $1.6 million in questionable foreign-linked contributions for the DNC in 1996, and Maria Hsia, who teamed with Huang to plan the controversial 1996 DNC fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights, Calif....

"....In Hong Kong, Brown and his DNC colleagues were scheduled to attend a lunch and a dinner hosted by the Lippo Group, the Indonesia-based conglomerate that donated large sums to the DNC to support Clinton's presidential bids -- and employed Huang as its chief U.S. executive."

UPDATE: CNN picked up, sort of, one of the scandal developments listed in the June 30 CyberAlert. As documented in that CyberAlert, other than one mention on GMA, the broadcast networks failed to report that notes from a White House aide suggested that the President made fundraising calls. MRC news analyst Clay Waters informed me that in a Saturday, June 28 World Today story on Clinton's newest campaign reform proposal, new CNN reporter John King gave one sentence to noting that congressional investigators are looking into the charge that Clinton made calls from the White House.

But Clay observed that on neither Friday or Saturday night did CNN report the other developments cited in the last CyberAlert: The Senate committee giving immunity to four witnesses or news about how John Huang has a special interest in CIA briefings about China.

2) On the weekend talk shows some top reporters were more concerned about the scope of Kenneth Starr's probe, urging him to wrap it up immediately, than in White House delays and obfuscation. These reporters seem more interested in discrediting the investigator than in learning what misdeeds Clinton may have committed.

-- On Friday's Washington Week in Review, NBC News reporter Gwen Ifill asserted:

"I think Ken Starr is, is bound and determined to make James Carville look good. James Carville is the President's attack dog who's been after Ken Starr for so long and every time the, another story surfaces in which it seems like Ken Starr is being a little bit too aggressive, going after things which are a little bit seemingly off the point that in, in ways that he can't necessarily justify, he feeds into that."

Gloria Borger of U.S. News & World Report piped in:
"I think Ken Starr better come up with something pretty quick. I, I think it, reading this, it looks like he's looking for pillow talk -- alleged pillow talk and..."
Ifill: "Keep it right, alleged."
Borger: "If there is such a thing -- alleged pillow talk. And, at a certain point you have to say, `Look, if you don't have the goods, you've got to get out of it.' And I think that, to a lot of people, this looks like a sort of a fishing expedition."

Later, in this transcript that MRC intern Jessica Anderson got off the PBS Web site, New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse argued:

"I think what Starr is doing here, he's got his prosecutors' explanations and so on, but what he's really doing is playing with the long-term credibility of the institution of special prosecutors. I think people's patience is running out with that. And, you know, there may be a day in the country's history when we really need a special prosecutor, and I'm not sure that the currency won't have been spent by then."

-- MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught this from Time magazine's Margaret Carlson on CNN's June 28 Capital Gang:
"If the notes had something in them, I think he'd be in less trouble. But I don't think the notes do contain any information. It does turn out it was a matter of principle to fight for their release. It looks like he's on a fishing expedition, and a prurient fishing expedition at that, x-rated. Since this is a family show, I won't go into it. But there were many questions asked that didn't have anything to do with Madison Savings and Loan. And I don't know any pillow talk that involves land transactions and closing costs and sewer hook-ups and other things like that. So it does look like he's a desperate man looking for something at this late date, and, he'd said earlier in the investigation, 'I'm never going to do this. I'm not going to get into -- I'm not going to sink to that level.' And now he's sunk to it."

The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt agreed:
"One is tempted to say that if he really is going to delve into everyone that Clinton supposedly slept with, this is going to be an awfully long investigation. But look, if this were the first instance of poor judgment on the part of this independent counsel, Ken Starr, you could say, 'All right, well fine.' You know. But it's not. There's been repeated and repeated instances of poor judgment. You know, even many conservatives privately now, as you suggested earlier, are fed up with Starr. It's time to finish this investigation. And the point of an independent counsel is to give credibility to a very sensitive inquiry. Ken Starr has flunked that test."

How ironic: journalists blaming the messenger.

3) From the June 27 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Revelations About President Clinton's Sexual History." Copyright 1997 by Worldwide Pants, Incorporated.

10. Lost his virginity in a McDonald's drive-thru.

9. As a patriotic young man, owned an inflatable Betsy Ross.

8. He's President and founder of the Air Force One mile high club.

7. Owns pair of boxers that reads, "Home of the Washington Monument."

6. After his historic meeting with JFK, they went out and picked up a couple hookers.

5. Personally responsible for the entire teenage population of Arkansas.

4. Actually coined the term "Booty Call."

3. Just as in politics, he's never really satisfied anybody.

2. One time, back in the mid-eighties, he actually slept with Hillary.

1. For a change of pace, likes to sexually harass himself.

At least Letterman's staff realizes it's Clinton, not Starr, who has committed misdeeds.

-- Brent Baker




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