Money Laundering Piques Nets; Budget Deal Leads
The MRC's fax reports, Media
Reality Check: A Daily Report on the Media's Coverage of the Campaign
Finance Scandal Hearings, can now be read from the MRC home page or
directly from: http://mediaresearch.org/archive/realitycheck/archive1997.asp
- Zilch on the
fundraising scandal Tuesday morning, but both CNN and MSNBC
provided live coverage of the FBI agent's testimony.
- ABC, CBS and
NBC all aired full stories Tuesday night on the testimony about
money laundering, though deep into the newscasts.
- Networks fail
to note how small the tax cut is compared to projected revenue.
Dan Rather assumed all the money is the government's: "When
Washington writes those checks will you be among the
1) None of the morning shows
touched the fundraising story on Tuesday morning, though their first
interview segments were at least about a serious policy matter -- the
tax and budget agreement -- instead of a celebrity murder. Tuesday,
July 29 also marked the 14th day in a row without a fundraising
mention on CBS This Morning.
CNN and MSNBC both carried
the testimony live of FBI agent Jerry Campane. Except for ad breaks
and half hourly news updates, from a bit past 10am ET to about 1pm ET
viewers saw Campane in the first live coverage by CNN and MSNBC since
day two of a witness called by Republicans. Last Thursday they both
showed Haley Barbour's appearance.
C-SPAN continues to re-play
the hearings at night. Tuesday night the tape began at about 10:30pm
ET. Fox News Channel and National Empowerment Television are still the
only networks offering ongoing live coverage. On the internet you can
get FNC's cable feed at: www.foxnews.com. CNN is providing
uninterrupted live coverage at: http://allpolitics.com/gaveltogavel.
It's a bit late now for the
current round, but if you want to see the Senate and House hearings
live this fall on TV, you'll have to get access to either FNC or NET
(assuming both will continue coverage). If your cable provider doesn't
offer either, you could consider DBS. FNC is carried by DIRECTV and
NET, as you may have seen in their Tuesday USA Today ad, by the Dish
2) In the evening, the three
broadcast networks all ran full stories on the day's testimony on how
Charlie Trie laundered money. Tuesday night was only the second time
since the opening statements that all three networks offered full
stories on the same night. The first: Last Thursday after Haley
Barbour's appearance, meaning Trie is the first Democratic
scandal-related witness to generate full stories on all three
-- ABC's World News Tonight.
About 21 minutes into the July 21 broadcast, after a
"Solutions" story on new technology to detect bridge decay,
substitute anchor Diane Sawyer announced:
"Those Senate hearings
on campaign fundraising focused today on former restaurant owner
Charlie Trie, who raised more than $1 million for President Clinton
and the Democrats. The money has since been returned. Investigators
think that a lot of it came from one very elusive man in Asia."
Linda Douglass, as
transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson, began: "Meet one of
the most mysterious suspects in the campaign finance investigation, Ng
Lap Seng, also known as Mr. Wu, a multimillionaire from the Portugese
colony of Macau on the tip of mainland China. Mr. Wu evaded
congressional investigators who went to Asia hoping to find him, but
we caught up with him at one of his businesses in Macau. Wu says he
made his fortune by being shrewd."
Wu: "My philosophy is
that I should not break the law, but I wouldn't mind bending it."
Douglass: "But today, an
FBI agent working for the Senate committee, testified that Wu is not
just a businessman, but an advisor to the Chinese government, who
allegedly funneled foreign money to his friend Charlie Trie. Trie, in
turn, gave huge donations to the Democratic Party."
FBI agent Jerry Campane in
testimony to the committee: "Overall, it appears to me that Mr.
Trie relied upon Mr. Wu's foreign wire transfers to make his
contributions to the DNC."
That clip of Campane, other
than a soundbite from Barbour last Thursday, is the only soundbite
longer than two words run by World News Tonight since the hearings
commenced. In other words, it's the first Republican-called witness
that ABC showed for more than two words.
"Senators were stunned to learn that beginning in 1994, Wu wired
nearly $1 million to Trie, the former Little Rock restaurant owner and
friend of President Clinton's. A mind-numbing chart showed how Trie
moved the money through various accounts."
Sen. Robert Smith: "In
your opinion, did Mr. Trie launder money?"
Campane: "Yes, sir, in
my opinion he did."
Douglass: "What did Mr.
Wu want? Access to the President, in part. ABC News has learned Mr. Wu
visited the White House at least six times."
Only ABC reported the six
White House visits as neither CBS or NBC relayed that revelation
-- Only the CBS Evening News
ran a story on Monday night. Bob Schieffer outlined the Macau to DNC
money laundering scheme that would be detailed at Tuesday's hearings.
But CBS still aired another piece on Tuesday night in which Bob
Schieffer summarized the testimony from the FBI agent and two Northern
Virginia women who wrote checks after being reimbursed by Trie.
Schiefer concluded by
emphasizing what the testimony had not proven: "Money laundering
is clearly illegal, but investigators are having a harder time proving
what some Republicans see as a larger issue, that all this is somehow
tied to a Chinese plot to influence American elections. So far, no
evidence of that."
-- NBC Nightly News placed an
"In Depth" look at paternity questions nagging celebrities,
such as Bill Cosby, before their story on the hearings. Lisa Myers
opened her July 29 report:
"The man in the
spotlight today, the President's friend Charlie Trie, was 7,000 miles
away, hiding somewhere in China. One of the mysteries of the money
trail is how Trie, who owned a modest restaurant in Little Rock, could
give $220,000 to the Democratic Party. Trie told Tom Brokaw, who
tracked him down in China, that it was all his own money. But today an
FBI agent told a Senate committee that Trie did not earn that much
money, that the contributions actually came from overseas."
After summarizing what the
FBI agent discovered, Myers explained: "Trie wasn't alone. Today
two women testified, through an interpreter, that they wrote these
checks, totaling $25,000 to the Democrats, and then Wu's company
reimbursed them. That is illegal. Why?"
Testifying woman: "The
boss wanted to go to the White House."
Myers then offered a
conclusion which left open the possibility of a China connection:
"The boss is Wu, and he
did in fact attend a presidential fundraiser at this hotel last year,
the same day the checks were written. Today a quarter of a million
dollars in apparently illegal foreign money was traced back to
mysterious Mr. Wu. Why would he want to give Democrats all that money?
Well, one reason, in Asia, even the appearance of a relationship with
the President of the United States brings stature. Still unknown
tonight is whether any of Wu's money actually came from the Chinese
3) The budget and tax deal
announcement led the three broadcast network evening shows as each
aired multiple stories on the deal which raises spending and the
amount collected in taxes. The $91 billion in net tax reduction
represents about one percent of projected federal revenue over the
next five years, hardly a major tax cut. But that's not an angle
viewers heard anything about in the July 29 stories. (I'm basing the
one percent on a June 25 Heritage Foundation analysis of the then
planned $85 billion in tax cuts.)
-- CBS Evening News. Dan
Rather operated under the assumption that all the money is owned by
the government, so a tax cut does not mean that you are able to keep
more of your own money but that the government is giving you
something. His top of the show tease: "When Washington writes
those checks will you be among the winners?"
Rather began the show:
"Good evening. The big new tax break and budget deal in
Washington is already on the fast track for passage by
Congress..." Reporter Richard Schlesinger looked at the winners
and losers, concluding:
"But the bottom line is
to get the most out of this new deal: Buy a lot of stocks, buy a lot
of houses, or make a really risky investment -- have a lot of
CBS aired a piece by Eric
Engberg on how structural problems with Medicare and Social Security
were not addressed followed by a piece from Bill Plante on how both
Clinton and GOP leadership celebrated and each got key elements they
-- ABC's World News Tonight.
Diane Sawyer announced: "Good evening, it's official, there is a
budget deal with lots of new tax breaks. But what does it all mean for
you? We're going to spend some time tonight trying to figure it
Instead of looking at the
percent each income category saved, Sawyer relayed the liberal, class
warfare angle by emphasizing how wealthier people "benefit"
the most dollar-wise:
"As you can imagine,
economists everywhere spent the day trying to sort out who wins and
who loses. Here's one view the economists agreed on: People with very
low incomes -- under roughly $13,000 a year -- will stay the same, or
actually pay a little bit more if they smoke because of higher
cigarette taxes. As for everyone else, the range of the tax cuts is
huge, as you can see [on screen graphic], ranging from $14, at the
lowest income levels [$12,800] to nearly $17,000 at the highest levels
[$246,000]. Those with the very highest incomes benefit the most from
cuts in capital gains, estate, and inheritance taxes."
But, having illustrated from
the liberal angle how the rich benefit the most, ABC next bustrussed
the view argued by conservatives that capital gains cuts would benefit
more than just the rich. Sawyer asserted: "That cut in the
capital gains tax has long been a rallying cry for the wealthiest
Americans, but as ABC's Bob Jamieson reports today, a lot of middle
class people are excited, too."
As transcribed by MRC intern
Jessica Anderson, Bob Jamieson began: "There were cheers today
for the capital gains tax cut from a surfer in California, from a cop
in Illinois, and from a bellman at a hotel in New York, Homer Pope,
who makes $23,000 a year. Over the years he's put $7,000 in the stock
Homer Pope: "Capital
gains tax cut is very important to people of all classes, more
particularly me, because now I can reinvest those capital gains and
not worrying about having to be taxed for them."
Allen Sinai, economist:
"I think this is a tax cut for mainstream America. I might not
have said that ten years ago, but I would now because we have so many
Americans, at all income levels, who are invested in the U.S. stock
Jamieson: "In the last
five years as stock prices have nearly tripled, the number of people
invested in the market has doubled. Half of all investors today never
graduated from college; 35 percent are middle-class or blue-collar
Following a profile by Dean
Reynolds of a middle class family with three children, Sawyer turned
to John Donvan to explain how the deal came together and then to John
Cochran to examine the criticisms. Sawyer wondered: "There are
some doubters on this deal, right? What are their concerns?"
Cochran relayed three, all
liberal, concerns: "Diane, the naysayers say that this is a
Christmas-in-July budget, with tax cuts paid for with money that
should be used to reduce the national debt. The critics also say that
with the economy booming, there's no need to encourage investors to
invest more in the stock market with a big capital gains tax cut. They
also point out that the last time we had a big cap gains tax cut in
1981, the very next year the economy fell into a deep recession."
Note no mention of the
conservative concern about the piddling size of the very selectively
targeted tax cuts.
-- NBC Nightly News. NBC's
Claire Shipman at least hinted at the small size of the tax cut as she
gave a sentence to criticism from both ends of the spectrum:
"But some conservative
Republicans are still grumbling that the tax relief isn't enough and
some liberal Democrats, like House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt
who's staking out political territory for the year 2000, complained
that the tax cuts are skewed to the rich..."
Like CBS, NBC next
highlighted how the deal failed to tackle Medicare and Social
Security. But neither Engberg on CBS or NBC's David Bloom recalled how
Republicans were savaged, by both liberals and the media, when they
tried to take on the impending insolvency.
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