Blame Lott, Not Ickes or Clinton; Overlooking Temple Laundering
1) All the networks led with El Nino Tuesday night, but Janet
Reno's decision also generated stories. Tom Brokaw said that she
"has refused" to drop her investigation.
2) The Buddhist temple was laundering money years
before Al Gore showed up, but ABC, CBS and NBC didn't find that of
3) One reporter acknowledged the media bias in favor
of campaign finance reform as Tom Brokaw, Gloria Borger and Sam
Donaldson prove his point. >>>> The MRC's 10th
Anniversary Gala is fast approaching: October 22 in Washington, DC.
For ticket information, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org OR
http://www.mrc.org. Or, call 1-800-MRC-1423. After hours, punch in
1) The "El Nino Preparedness Summit" in Santa Monica,
California topped the three broadcast networks on Tuesday night and
each also reported that Janet Reno had decided to extend her
investigation into Clinton's phone calls. But none mentioned Tuesday's
House subcommittee hearing on corruption in the Teamsters election.
On ABC's World News Tonight Peter
Jennings announced Reno's decision and followed with a clip of
Clinton's reaction. Reporter Linda Douglass offered some analysis,
explaining that the Attorney General says "she needs more time to
evaluate the evidence that has been collected so far. Thus far though
the prosecutors say there is no evidence of the President even asked
anybody for money on the telephone..." Jennings next highlighted
a new ABC News poll which showed that "all this fuss" is not
hurting Clinton's approval rating. One reason: 31 percent had never
heard of the videotapes of the coffees.
On the CBS Evening News Scott Pelley
focused on the imminent release of 60 additional videotapes and
"newly discovered audio tapes."
NBC Nightly News opened with a piece
on the El Nino threat. Reporter Mike Boettcher assured viewers:
"The White House considered the threat serious enough to send
Vice President Al Gore to the summit." I guess exploiting the
issue to shine up Gore's environmental image had nothing to do with
Much later in the show, anchor Tom
Brokaw painted Reno as the unreasonable party: "In Washington
tonight the Attorney General has refused to just drop her
investigation of those fundraising calls made by President Clinton
from the White House...."
2) The October 14 CyberAlert reported that Los Angeles Times
reporter Alan Miller appeared on Monday's Inside Politics to discuss
his October 7 story showing how Democrats raised money abroad long
before the 1996 election season. His story focused in part on the
foreign fundraising coordination by Maria Hsia. Miller did appear on
the CNN show and talked about Hsia's role, but his appearance was
prompted by a newer story. Bernard Shaw interviewed him about an
October 12 Los Angeles Times piece he wrote that ran in the October 14
Washington Edition of the paper. It also centered on Hsia.
"Temple's Political Giving
Hidden in '93, Records Say: Federal grand jury targets Democratic
fundraiser Maria Hsia, Buddhist group's donations," read the
headline. Reporters William Rempel and Alan Miller's lead:
"The aggressive Democratic fundraiser behind last year's Buddhist
temple benefit featuring Vice President Al Gore acted to conceal
temple political donations as early as 1993, according to records and
testimony that reveal a more extensive history of temple
money-laundering than was previously known.
"A federal grand jury is
investigating fund-raiser Maria Hsia and the temple's potentially
illegal contributions, including a $5,000 donation last October to
Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), The Times has learned.
"And Hsia has been singled out as
one of the initial targets of the recently reorganized Justice
Department task force investigating alleged campaign-finance abuses,
sources confirm. Hsia not only helped arrange for the Hsi Lai Temple
to provide the $5,000 Kennedy contribution, according to records
turned over to congressional investigators, but she also was one of
five straw donors who served as conduits for the temple's hidden
Coverage: Nothing yet, morning or
evening, on any of the broadcast networks.
3) Last week USA Today reporter Richard Benedetto
observed that "most of the reporting" on campaign finance
reform "is tilted toward voices in favor of wholesale
reform." The October 12 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources used
the column to set up a segment on reform coverage during which
moderator Bernard Kalb cited a quote run in the September 29
CyberAlert and October 6 Notable Quotables.
Kalb offered up: "Let me pick up,
since you mentioned Senator McConnell, an intro line by Tom Brokaw the
other night on how the media covered the story, Brokaw saying,
introducing a piece about a Republican Senator who was a one man
wrecking crew when it comes to campaign finance reform and he's proud
Martin Schram of Scripps-Howard agreed
that showed bias: "Tom Brokaw's line went too far. That's the
kind of thing that Benedetto was talking about."
McCain-Feingold's defeat last week
hasn't quelled demands from star journalists for the liberal
regulatory plan to control speech and spending. Here are some recent
-- Tuesday night, October 14, NBC's
Tom Brokaw made a guest appearance on the Late Show with David
Letterman. The host raised the coffee videotapes, leading Brokaw to
offer his assessment which blamed "money in politics" not
the President for how he has demeaned the office: "The country
has just tuned it out at this point, unfortunately, because it is a
real cancer on the system. And you can't have a political system that
is cash and carry, that only the people who have the cash can carry
away the influence and everybody else is cut out."
In the end, Brokaw predicted, Janet
Reno will decide against appointing an independent counsel and that
will lead to some Republican hypocrisy: "The Republicans will
beat on the table as say this is outrageous, but at the same time the
Republican Majority Leader, Trent Lott, has arranged the legislative
schedule in the Senate so there's no chance that campaign finance
reform will pass this time, he's actively taking a part in that."
-- On last Friday's (October 10)
Washington Week in Review on PBS Gloria Borger of U.S. News and CBS
News offered the same spin, painting McCain-Feingold as THE WAY to
"solve the problem" of all the 1996 improprieties. Those
against the bill, in Borger's simplistic presentation, don't want
"to solve the problem."
Borger, as transcribed by MRC news
analyst Gene Eliasen, recounted what she saw happen on Capitol Hill on
"It's one of those days where you
actually see the problem and one day, in the morning, and then in the
afternoon you have an opportunity to solve the problem, in one day,
this never happens, but it happened on Tuesday. And of course it
turned out very badly for some people who wanted to solve the problem.
"The morning you had the Senate
committee investigating all of these campaign finance abuses, ready to
blow a gasket over these videotapes we've been talking about. Very
exciting hearing, you go up there Senator Thompson is ready to give
them hell and he does. Then you have Harold Ickes, the guy who was the
President's point man for money, finally ready to testify about all
the money in the campaign, we've been waiting for this public
testimony for months. And then in the afternoon, you're going to have
a key procedural vote on campaign finance reform that would
essentially determine whether campaign finance reform lives or dies.
"So as a journalist it's sort of a
mandatory visit to the Hill, you've got to go. So you go up to the
Hill, you go to the hearings in the morning, they do not disappoint.
Thompson's talking about the foot-dragging of the White House. Then
Senators have their lunch, as they do every Tuesday to discuss the
agenda and when their next recess's going to be, or whatever the topic
seems to be, and then they went on the floor to vote.
"And what happened was, without
boring everyone with all the procedural details, is that in the end
the Senate balked and it decided it could not vote for campaign
finance reform. Back I went to the Harold Ickes testimony on the Hill
and Harold Ickes said to the Senators, 'Your problem isn't with me,
Senators, it's with the law, which P.S. you just refused to change.'
So it was a wonderful day."
PBS viewer's problem isn't with
Ickes either. It's with reporters who think it's more important to
change laws that were violated than determine who did what.
-- A few weeks ago, on the September
28 This Week, Sam Donaldson demonstrated that the First Amendment is
great for journalists but we can abandon it when it comes to others
who want their voice heard free of a media filter.
Donaldson began by giving away his
real concern, that without more regulation Republicans will benefit:
"If we have more money and everybody can put in as much as they
want to, the Republicans win." Donaldson explained how upset he
was with a campaign message he and his colleagues couldn't stop:
"All of the special interest groups, not directly connected with
the parties. I remember 1988. It was not George Bush who ran the
Willie Horton ad, that devastating ad. It was Floyd Brown and some
other group that ran that ad and if we don't limit money there what
good does it do to simply say to the parties, 'No soft money?'"
Later Donaldson declared that
"I think the Supreme Court decision is wrong, I do not think
money is speech."
All of this illustrates the accuracy
of Benedetto's October 6 "Politics" column in USA Today. He
space or time is devoted to sober, broad looks at arguments on all
sides of the issue. Instead, coverage is often emotional and
selective. Reporting usually begins from the premise that the McCain-Feingold
reform bill now before the Senate is good, and that any attempt to
slow it, stop it or change it is bad."
Benedetto offered a couple examples
of bias, including this broad indictment:
"When Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott, R-Miss., introduced an amendment last week to require labor
unions to get permission of members before spending dues money for
political purposes, news reports said he was 'muddying the water.'
"Opponents called it 'a
poison pill.' Newspaper editorials denounced the move as shamefully
partisan. The charge: Republicans want to hamper unions' ability to
raise money because the millions of dollars they raise for campaigns
go mostly to Democrats.
"But if that's legitimate cause
for denouncing the amendment, why is it not similarly legitimate to
question the motive of Democrats seeking to ban 'soft money?' Those
are unlimited contributions that go to political parties and are
supposed to help pay for party-building activities such as
"Republicans collect more
soft money than Democrats. So it would seem in the Democrats' interest
to get rid of that GOP advantage. Yet, few raise that point. According
to the prevailing wisdom, soft money must go -- period."
Benedetto concluded: "Media
conduct on this one is not pure liberal bias. It's another example of
what Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson calls 'pack journalism
"'We media types fancy
ourselves independent and skeptical thinkers,' he recently wrote.
'Just the opposite is often true. We're patsies for the latest social
crusade or intellectual fad.'
"The anti-smoking campaign is a
recent example of the media buying in with few reservations. Global
warming, too. Now it's campaign finance reform."
Let's see. The anti-smoking
campaign, portraying global warming as a threat and arguing for
campaign finance reform. What do they all have in common? They are
issues pushed by liberals. If not "pure liberal bias," maybe
a 99 percent liberal pack.
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