Morning Blackout; MSNBC & CNN Double Standard; Korean Famine
newspapers were packed with fundraising developments, from
Democratic skimming to the sentencing of the Lums, but the
morning shows skipped all of it.
money questions surrounding Gore prompted evening stories on
the three nets; one even gave Mother Teresa more time than
- CNN broke
its implied promise to give the same time to Fowler as they
had Barbour, but MSNBC didn't even bother with a second of
blamed North Korean starvation not on corrupt communism but on
"catastrophic floods" and an "unrelenting
1) Wednesday morning
newspaper readers were greeted by headlines in all the major
newspapers which highlighted big developments on the fundraising
front, but the morning shows ignored all of it.
Admits Arranging Access for Donors," announced a front page
New York Times headline. Next to that another September 10
headline, that MRC analyst Clay Waters pointed out to me,
revealed: "Democrats Skimmed $2 Million to Aid Candidates,
Records Show." Reporter Don Van Natta Jr. discovered:
"In a practice that
placed some of its most cherished donors in violation of federal
election laws, the Democratic National Committee took at least $2
million in contributions restricted to generic use by the party
and spent it directly on the re-election campaign of President
Clinton and other candidates."
West Coast readers saw
this headline in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times: "DNC Donor's
Offer of Funds to Yeltsin Told." And Washington Post readers
got a different spin, but still read about the hearings in this
front page story: "No Memory of Calls to CIA, Ex-DNC Chief
Plus, inside, both the
Washington Times and Washington Post carried stories on the
sentencing of Nora and Gene Lum to ten months in prison for hiding
illegal contributions to Ted Kenneday and a House candidate.
The Lums are not
small-time operators. They supposedly funneled illegal money to
Ron Brown. To refresh your memory, here's a portion of the June 18
Prime Time Live story in which ABC's Brian Ross interviewed
Nolanda Hill, a close associate of the late Commerce Secretary:
"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."
"The first number was $60,000. We discussed
"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...."
None of these
developments and revelations generated even a syllable of coverage
Wednesday morning on NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America or
This Morning on CBS, reported MRC news analysts Geoffrey Dickens,
Gene Eliasen and Steve Kaminski. (The Lum sentencing took place
Tuesday, but the story was also ignored by all the networks
In fact, none of the
three morning shows have uttered a word about the hearings in
three days of broadcasts so far this week.
2) Wednesday night the
three broadcast networks aired full reports on the release of the
memo which informed Al Gore that the first $20,000 of any donation
he garnered would go to candidates. Even ABC, which skipped the
hearings on Tuesday, delivered a story. And, for the first time
since her death last Friday, ABC spent more time on Mother Teresa
than Diana-related items. CBS gave them both about the same amount
of time. Here's a rundown of the September 10 shows:
ABC's World News Tonight
led with the controversy over a bill submitted by Jesse Helms to
block Gulf war veterans from making claims against frozen Iraqi
assets. Peter Jennings opened:
- "Good evening.
We're going to begin tonight with the power of one man. It's
not often in politics that one man, other than the President
or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, can suddenly
lay claim to the spotlight by using his power in such a raw
way as Senator Jesse Helms has. In Washington tonight the
senior Senator from North Carolina has got more people upset
with him than usual."
Up second, an update on
the Weld nomination followed by a brief mention of how the Senate
voted to rescind a "tax windfall" for the tobacco
companies. Next, ABC gave two minutes to the fundraising hearings.
Linda Douglass began:
today demanded to know whether Vice President Gore
understood that some of the money he raised during phone
calls from the White House was hard money, money used for
federal campaigns. Prosecutors say it is illegal to solicit
hard money in government buildings..."
- After soundbites from
Senators Thad Cochran and Pete Domenici as well as Gore's
counsel, Douglass noted that if Gore didn't know about the
hard money he wasn't alone as donors were also not told how
their soft money contributions were "secretly
converted." That made ABC the only one of the three
networks to mention the New York Times revelation outlined in
item #1 above.
- Douglass closed her
story: "Though Democrats maintain that Gore was an
innocent party in all of this, the Vice President continues to
be splattered by mud left over from the last campaign."
Just an innocent
bystander being "splattered" by what others did, as if
he did nothing wrong.
Later in the show ABC
allocated 1:30 to a Diana crash update and how Wills and Harry
returned to school. But a story on the children of Calcutta helped
by Mother Teresa lasted 2:10, 40 seconds longer.
CBS Evening News began
with a 2:25 piece on the Diana crash, drugs in the driver, and how
rescuers talked to her. At the other end of the newscast, CBS
closed with an almost as long 2:20 look at the gratitude felt by
adult men raised in an orphanage Mother Teresa created.
CBS dedicated 1:50 to a
fundraising update, as Bob Schieffer explained:
"The tedious discussion or arcane campaign laws droned on
for hours but it came down to this: Did Vice President Al Gore
knowingly break the law barring campaign fundraising on federal
property when he solicited campaign funds by telephone from his
White House office."
After outlining Gore's
contention that he raised only soft money, Schieffer told viewers:
"But today the
committee unearthed White House memos showing the Democratic
National Committee had notified the President, Gore and other
top White House officials that the first $20,000 of all big
donations that came in last year would be put in the so-called
hard money account, to be spent directly on the
The Diana crash
investigation also topped NBC Nightly News, which spent over five
minutes on Diana-generated stories but just under two minutes on a
near-riot that broke out when authorities tried to end viewing of
Mother Teresa for the day. In addition to the crash story, NBC ran
a profile of Camila Parker-Bowles.
NBC got around to
fundraising about 17 minutes into the broadcast, after stories on
tired truckers, rail safety problems, and an "In Depth"
look at prostate cancer. At just 1:30, NBC allocated the least
time to fundraising. Instead of a standard story package, Lisa
Myers provided a stand-up without any video and answered one
question. Anchor Tom Brokaw intoned:
- "It was
another one of those difficult days for Vice President Al
Gore, on the Money Trail. The Senate hearings turned up
still more evidence that he went well beyond what we had
been told earlier about what he knew and when he knew it
about the kind of money he was raising for the '96 campaign.
NBC's Lisa Myers is on Capitol Hill tonight. Lisa, take us
through this hard money and soft money tangle."
- Myers explained how
memos showed Gore should have known he was raising hard money
and that's illegal to do in federal buildings.
- Brokaw inquired:
"What about Janet Reno. There was talk she was
considering a special prosecutor for the Gore case, what's the
latest on that?"
- Myers replied:
"Election law experts I talked with called these
documents significant and said it makes it even more likely
the Attorney General will have to appoint an independent
3) In the September 10
CyberAlert I forgot to review daytime coverage, quite an
oversight given the contrast in how CNN and MSNBC treated the
former Chairmen of the two parties.
- When the RNC's Haley
Barbour appeared both CNN and MSNBC went live for most of four
and a half hours, interrupted only for updates on Andrew
Cunanan. But when the DNC's Don Fowler testified Tuesday MSNBC
failed to provide and live coverage and CNN got bored after an
hour and forty minutes. CNN went live from about 10am ET
Tuesday until 11:40am, cutting out only for ad breaks and
quick news updates.
- But that contradicts
the promise CNN issued during its live coverage of Barbour for
which CNN dropped three "destination" shows -- Talk
Back Live, Inside Politics and Showbiz Today. At 6:20pm ET on
July 24, after an ad break, Judy Woodruff re-introduced
Barbour coverage by assuring viewers:
- "We do want to
remind you as we listen to Haley Barbour, the former head of
the Republican Party, speak that in the weeks ahead when the
committee calls on Marvin Rosen, the former Finance Director
for the Democratic Party, Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut
Senator, former Chairman, General Chairman, of the Democratic
Party, and Don Fowler, the former Chairman of the Democratic
Party, that we will be carrying their testimony as well before
Well compare MSNBC's zero
coverage and CNN's limited coverage of Fowler to the emphasis the
cable channels put on Barbour. As detailed in the July 25 CyberAlert:
Haley Barbour's appearance
led to the first live MSNBC coverage since the first week (July 9)
and CNN's first since July 9 except for an hour last week...
At 2:35pm ET on Thursday
CNN jumped out of a police press conference on Cunanan to catch the
opening statement from Haley Barbour. MSNBC joined in just before
3pm and both carried the Barbour appearance live except for ad
breaks and half hourly news updates. At 4:30pm ET MSNBC switched to
a FBI press conference on Cunanan that CNN soon joined. Both were
back on Barbour at about 5pm ET. CNN stayed with Barbour until
resuming normal programming with Moneyline at 7pm.
MSNBC cut out at 6:40pm ET
to go to an "exclusive" live interview conducted by John
"Spike" Gibson with the son of the caretaker who
encountered Cunanan on Wednesday. MSNBC completed their illuminating
interview, with the person who knew the man who heard something, in
time to show John Glenn questioning Barbour for a few minutes before
MSNBC ceased live coverage at 7pm ET.
On Wednesday, September 10,
neither MSNBC or CNN offered any live coverage of the testimony from
DNC General Counsel Joseph Sandler. (Fox News Channel and National
Empowerment Television are providing live coverage and C-SPAN is
offering a replay at 10pm ET, or whenever the House adjourns.)
4) Those darn famines keep
hitting communist countries, but Marxist economics has nothing to do
with it. Just after the Diana crash update, the second story on
Wednesday's CBS Evening News featured a "CBS News exclusive"
from North Korea. In a preview of a story to air on the upcoming
Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel (to premiere October 1), Peter Van Sant
described his trip with AmeriCares to North Korea.
Van Sant opened with video of
malnourished babies in an orphanage, explaining:
Staves: feel like they
don't have a chance. I feel like their life is over before it
the babies received their first real food in days, but for most
it's too little too late."
overseers watched our every move, but gave us unlimited access
to the babies. Dr. Diane Staves (sp?) is a member of the
AmeriCares team who has come to witness first hand how two years
of catastrophic floods and this year's unrelenting drought are
pushing millions into starvation."
- Van Sant never even hinted
at the role of government policy, preferring to stick to emotional
video. He ended by ominously warning that the situation is even
worse in rural areas, prompting substitute anchor Paula Zahn to
gasp: "It's too hard to imagine."
- It's amazing how the
"catastrophic flood" and "unrelenting drought"
hit only the portion of the Korean peninsula north of the 38th
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