ABC Finds GOP Abuse and Follows McCurry's Wish on Jones
Starting Monday at 10am ET
C-SPAN2 will replay the fundraising hearings each weekday during the
weeks of August 4 and August 11.
- Total morning
show fundraising stories on Thursday: Zero
- Neither NBC
Nightly News or ABC's World News Tonight ran a piece Thursday
night, but ABC did raise foreign money fundraising -- by a
little-known Republican Congressman.
- CBS and NBC
note the subpoena from Paula Jones for a White House staffer, but
ABC followed Mike McCurry's wish and ignored the matter. Newsweek
suppressed an incident in which their staffer inadvertantly pimped
1) Morning Calm. The White
House release, hours after the committee visited the subject of Wu Lap
Seng and Charlie Trie, of information the committee requested in May
that listed Wu's White House visits prompted stories Wednesday night
on ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News. But producers
for the morning shows didn't find White House obstructionism or visits
by the foreign citizen newsworthy on Thursday morning.
For the third day in a row on
July 31 ABC's Good Morning America failed to mention fundraising. Same
went for This Morning on CBS, the 16th straight weekday morning that
CBS has not bothered mentioning fundraising.
NBC's Today, like Nightly
News the previous night, did not raise the obstructionism, but Today
also skipped telling viewers anything about what Lisa Myers had
reported on Wednesday's Nightly News: Trie's funny money donations to
Clinton's legal defense fund. But it wasn't like Today avoided
politics. Thursday's Today featured a q&a session with Tim Russert
conducted by Matt Lauer, but MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed
that they stuck to talking about the approval ratings for Clinton and
2) The current round of
hearings held by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee wrapped up
Thursday with testimony from a couple of investigators hired by the
Clinton legal defense fund. One investigator said he heard that DNC
fundraisers told an Oklahoma Indian tribe that a donation would ensure
the return of their lands and the committee zoomed in on a never
pursued offer from the investigator to the tribe to dig up dirt on
Senator Don Nickles who opposed the land return.
Evening show coverage: Only
the CBS Evening News ran a story, though ABC's World News Tonight
found time for news of foreign fundraising by a Republican. Nightline
also offered its second show on the hearings.
-- ABC's July 31 World News
Tonight skipped the Senate probe, but anchor Aaron Brown relayed:
Jay Kim agreed to plead guilty today to charges that he accepted more
than $230,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Kim admits receiving
illegal corporate and foreign money, including $50,000 from a
Taiwanese national. Kim says he will not resign."
-- NBC Nightly News ignored
the hearings, so those who watch Today in the morning and Nightly News
in the evening have yet to learn of how the White House delayed
releasing the documents detailing Wu's White House visits or of how
that obstructionism had led committee Chairman Fred Thompson to issue
subpoenas for all pending documents.
(When the tribe's story first
broke, it should be noted, only NBC Nightly News picked it up. As
reported in the March 11 CyberAlert, only NBC mentioned the March 10
Washington Post story on how "the Cheyenne-Arapaho Indians of
Oklahoma kicked in $107,000 to the Democratic National Committee and
hoped the money would help result in favorable Clinton Administration
action on the return of their tribal lands. It didn't happen."
Noting how the DNC later asked for another $25,000 for inaugural
activities, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski asserted: "Tribal leaders
believe they're the victims of what they call a shakedown.")
Thursday's NBC Nightly News
made time for a full story on baby talk, an In Depth report on the
hidden danger of drivers with suspended licenses who keep driving, and
how the Energy Dept gave free, water saving washing machines to every
resident of a Kansas town with a water shortage.
-- It's clear that This
Morning and CBS Evening News are run by different teams of producers.
While This Morning never touches the hearings, on Thursday the CBS
Evening News aired a fundraising story for the fourth straight day.
Dan Rather announced:
"The U.S. Senate
investigation into dirty money and foreign cash funneled into American
political campaigns branched off in new directions today, most
revolving around activities of fundraiser Charlie Trie. Congressional
investigators say that, working with Trie, a Buddhist sect helped
raise $800,000 for President Clinton's legal defense fund. And then
today's testimony went from the strange to the downright bizarre, as
CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer reports."
Schieffer began by explaining
how investigator Terry Lenzner admitted he drew up proposal to
investigate, for the Oklahoma Indian tribe, Senator Don Nickles and
his wife his wife. As transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson,
"After the Indians gave
the Democratic Party $100,000 in an unsuccessful effort to recover
this land, a donation the party returned when it came to light, the
Indians said a close friend of the President told them the best way to
get the land was to hire Lenzner to dig up dirt on Nickles."
Senator Don Nickles,
R-Oklahoma: "I think clearly the tribe, or your group, or the
Democratic officials were trying to dig up something and use that for
either extortion or bribery or intimidation, I'll just tell you it
Schieffer: "In the end,
Lenzner said the Indians decided not to hire him, so he didn't
investigate Nickles. The committee now plans at least a two-week
summer break before resuming its investigation, but clearly this phase
couldn't have ended on a weirder note. Bob Schieffer, CBS News, at the
A weird note World News
Tonight and NBC Nightly News viewers never heard a word about.
-- Thursday night Nightline
aired its second show on the hearings. Linda Douglass reviewed the
testimony, emphasizing how slowly the hearings had begun. Then host
Cokie Roberts interviewed Fred Thompson. She focused on style and
spent as much time pushing her personal crusade for "campaign
finance reform" as exploring the wrongdoing uncovered so far.
Sample questions from Roberts
-- "Is part of the
problem in terms of us grasping it, or the public getting ahold on it,
that some of the people telling the story are not very compelling
-- After Thompson rejected
her premise that everybody does it and countered that the Democrats in
1996 committed unprecedented violations, Roberts pushed campaign
reform: "One of the questions then is will you be able to get all
that out in a way that people finally say 'Enough, change the law,' or
are you being sabotaged every step of the way both by Democrats and by
members of your own party on that?"
On the July 10 Nightline
Forrest Sawyer also pressed Senator John Glenn from the left on
"reform." See the July 14 CyberAlert. Sawyer opened that
edition by arguing:
"Look at the latest ABC
News poll: Do you favor campaign finance reform? Sixty-two percent
said yes. Do you think it's likely to happen? Sixty-seven percent said
no. In the meantime, President Clinton's approval rating is as high as
it's ever been, 64 percent, which means, Senator Thompson, so far
America is either not listening or not believing. Maybe bad news for
the Republicans and good news for the Democrats. But for those hoping
for real campaign finance reform, it's all disappointing."
3) Reporters asking about how
lawyers for Paula Jones issued a subpoena for a White House staffer,
supposedly sexually harassed in 1993 by Bill Clinton in the White
House, angered Press Secretary Mike McCurry. On Thursday's Inside
Politics CNN's Wolf Blitzer recounted that day's press briefing
"It got rather testy in
the White House Thursday when reporters asked about the latest
potential bombshell in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit
against President Clinton."
Mike McCurry, White House
Press Secretary: "You're not going to use me at this podium to
further stories that your news organizations have to decide on their
own whether or not they want to pursue."
ABC met McCurry's hopes.
World News Tonight ignored the development on Thursday night of a
story first broken by a network on Wednesday's CBS Evening News (See
July 31 CyberAlert). None of the morning shows on Thursday uttered a
word about the step. The July 31 NBC Nightly News did include a brief
item emphasizing the non-cooperation by the woman. Tom Brokaw intoned:
"Warriors for Paula
Jones served a subpoena on a former White House aide, who they believe
may have been the target of an improper sexual advance by the
President. But lawyers for Kathleen Willy, who worked in the White
House counsel's office, say their client is outraged about being
pulled into this case and said she has no knowledge or information of
any relevance to the Paula Jones case."
Dan Rather offered a similar
update to their July 30 story.
All of this reminds me of an
item I'd forgotten to pass along from the July Washingtonian magazine.
From the magazine's "Capital Comment" section a story
headlined "Don't Get Between Bill and a Babe" on how "a
Newsweek contract photographer has learned a little of what it must be
like to work for Bill Clinton." The monthly offered an
"Larry Downing, who was
shooting for the White House Correspondents' Association at its annual
dinner, had an unexpected run-in with the President.
"During the event,
Clinton was talking to an attractive woman across the roped-off buffer
area. Photographers work in that area, between the dais and the main
"Downing was wearing one
of those lapel pins the Secret Service hands out to give freer access.
Clinton pointed at Downing and asked him to get a business card from
"'Yes, sir,' Downing
said. The President seemed to assume that Downing worked for him
because of the pin and because Downing looked familiar from covering
the White House for Newsweek.
"Photographers who saw
the incident said Downing took the card from the woman and, because
the Secret Service doesn't want anyone handing anything directly to
the President, showed it to a nearby agent -- who looked at it and
handed it back to Downing to give to Clinton.
"A look of anger crossed
Clinton's face. He snapped to Downing: 'You don't have to ask for
permission when I tell you to do something. This is my life, and
nobody's going to tell me what to do.'"
Somehow this incident never
made it into Newsweek.
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