Indonesian Gardener Talks But Nets Don't Listen; Hillary in the AM
"Indonesian gardener" contradicts the DNC's story,
revealing that his donations came from Indonesia and were
solicited by John Huang while he was at Commerce. The nets ignore.
- A brewing
scandal involving a Wisconsin casino, Bruce Babbitt and a tribe
buying a favor, but ABC, CBS and CNN have yet to focus on it.
Thursday's morning show questions for Hillary Clinton. All prompt
her to elaborate on the "crisis" and wonder why
government can't do more.
day, another Los Angeles Times disclosure for the networks to ignore.
An October 27 LA Times headline read "Indonesians Contradict
Democrats on Donations: Account by couple doesn't fit explanations
offered by DNC regarding $450,000 in contributions. Party later
returned money." Reporters Alan Miller and Glenn Bunting, in a
story also picked up by Monday's Washington Post, revealed:
"Breaking their long
silence in the scandal over foreign donations to American political
campaigns, an Indonesian couple who gave $450,000 to the Democratic
Party have told Senate investigators that the funds came from a
wealthy relative in Jakarta.
"Their detailed account
contradicts previous explanations by Democratic officials and raises
new questions about the legality of the party's largest individual
contributions during the last election cycle.
referred to disparagingly in some news accounts as an 'Indonesian
gardener,' and his wife, Soraya, explained during a lengthy interview
in Jakarta in June how they made a series of five-figure payments to
the Democratic National Committee between November 1995 and July 1996.
contained in internal Senate documents obtained by The Times, are
particularly intriguing because of the couple's ties to other
controversial participants in the fund-raising controversy.
"Soraya's father, Hashim
Ning, was a close business partner of Mochtar Riady, the patriarch of
the Indonesia-based Lippo Group conglomerate and a longtime supporter
of President Clinton. Ning wired $500,000 to the Wiriadinatas for the
contributions in November 1995, records show.
"The couple then began
making sizable donations, their first ever, at the direction of John
Huang, a former Lippo executive and then-Commerce Department official,
shortly before he moved to a fund-raising job at the DNC.
"Huang was aided by
James Riady, Mochtar's son, who two months earlier had arranged an
Oval Office meeting with Clinton to help facilitate Huang's hiring as
DNC finance vice chairman. The Riady connection accounts for one of
the most compelling moments captured on the recently released White
House videotapes of fund-raising events: Arief Wiriadinata shaking
hands with Clinton and confiding, 'James Riady sent me.'
"DNC and White House
officials have said that the Wiriadinatas gave so lavishly to the
Democrats because they were grateful that Clinton sent a get-well note
to Ning, who suffered a heart attack during a 1995 visit to the United
States. But Arief Wiriadinata provided a different explanation to
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigators: All the donations
were either solicited or recommended by Huang, who in turn promised to
arrange business meetings for Wiriadinata with prominent Asian
The Times reporters also
pointed out that "the couple made the initial donations when
Huang was still employed by the Commerce Department and legally
prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions."
Coverage of this latest
evidence of White House dissembling: Not a word Monday on the ABC, CBS
or NBC morning shows, reported MRC news analysts Eric Darbe, Steve
Kaminski and Geoffrey Dickens. And Monday night, nothing about
fundraising on ABC's World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC
Nightly News which all devoted about half their shows to the stock
market. The stock market dive bumped Inside Politics as CNN showed
CNNfn for a few hours Monday afternoon and World Today a few hours
later failed to pick up the Indonesia development.
2) Some TV coverage, barely, of the Chippewa Indian casino scandal.
Friday night on ABC's World News Tonight anchor Diane Sawyer spent 18
seconds to tell viewers:
"Another member of the
Clinton Administration could face an independent counsel. The Justice
Department has launched a 30 day inquiry into whether Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt lied about pressure he received from the White
House to prevent a Wisconsin Indian tribe from opening a casino."
ABC viewers, of course, would
have no idea what Indian tribe matter Sawyer was talking about since
ABC has yet to outline the particulars for viewers, though AP and Wall
Street Journal stories fleshed out the details last week. CBS and NBC
didn't mention it Friday night, but a few weeks ago NBC at least aired
a full story about the subject. As detailed in the October 8
CyberAlert, on the October 7 NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw announced:
"With all that you've
been hearing about fundraising and reform now all but dead, tonight we
have an exclusive report on what appears to be a very direct link
between money for the Democrats in this case and a high level policy
decision in favor of those who gave. NBC's Lisa Myers tonight on the
competing interests of Indian Tribes, casinos, and cold hard
Myers explained how the
Chippewa Indian Tribe in Wisconsin tried to turn a struggling dog
track into a casino. Federal officials in area supported the new
casino, but richer tribes that gave money to the Democrats didn't want
to the new casino competition. They set out to kill the new casino by
meeting with Clinton and top Democratic officials. They sent a letter
to Ickes, saying tribes wanting the new casino were Republicans, those
opposing were Democrats who gave substantial money to the DNC. Two
months later, Bruce Babbitt killed the casino project, overruling
local officials for first time ever on such a case.
In an October 22 op-ed Wall
Street Journal editorial writer John Fund revealed that the White
House refused to release to the Thompson committee the relevant
documents until after Harold Ickes had testified. Further, Fund noted:
"Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, whose office denied the casino
license, sent an October 10 letter to Senator Thompson in effect
retracting his previous denial that he told an old friend and lobbyist
that Mr. Ickes had ordered a quick decision against the Chippewa
Fund also relayed how a
federal judge appointed by President Carter "has reviewed
summaries of the memos the White House had been withholding and ruled
that 'there is considerable evidence that suggests that improper
political pressure may have influenced agency decision-making.'"
In an AP story carried by the
October 23 Washington Post, reporter James Rowley began: "Despite
warnings that White House involvement would be 'disastrous' and
'political poison,' presidential aides contacted the Interior
Department three times in 1995 about an Indian casino opposed by a
Democratic fundraiser, internal memos show."
It's not as if the network
reporters don't know about the story or don't find it interesting. As
transcribed by MRC intern Rebecca Hinnershitz, on Sunday's (October
26) Face the Nation, CBS reporter Bob Schieffer asked Senator Fred
"Let me ask you quickly
about Bruce Babbitt, the Secretary of the Interior. As you know,
there's quite a controversy. There are a group of Indian tribes, it is
reported, who lobbied hard to get a casino killed out in the Midwest
because another group of Indians had wanted to start up. There have
been reports that the White House pressured the Secretary of the
Interior to kill that. Shortly afterward the people who wanted it
killed gave $300,000 to the Democratic Party. You were going ask
Interior Secretary Babbitt to come before the committee as I
understand it. How serious do you think all this is?"
Not serious enough to warrant
a story on CBS! "There's quite a controversy" according to
Schieffer, but zilch about it through Monday night on the CBS Evening
News. So, ABC and CBS viewers know nothing about this quid pro quo of
policy for a donation since neither has run a story on it (other than
Friday's 18 seconds on ABC) and NBC hasn't followed up on any of the
developments since their story aired. And through last Friday night,
MRC news analyst Clay Waters informed me, The World Today had yet to
mention the casino controversy.
as promised, here are the "questions" posed last Thursday
morning (October 23) by the three morning show hosts to Hillary
A Cato Institute "Policy
Analysis" released last week concluded that "there is no
child care crisis" since "96 percent of parents are
satisfied with their child care arrangements; child care fees have not
changed in real terms since the late 1970s; and the number of child
care providers has kept pace with the swelling demand for child
care." In the detailed report Cato analyst Darcy Olsen disproves
the liberal assumptions for which Hillary Clinton proposed a solution,
showing how child care is affordable and how government would only
make things worse. Even an HHS study "found no indication that
unregulated family day care was either harmful or dangerous to
To read the full Policy
Analysis, go to: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-285.html
Keep Cato's points in mind as
you read these questions. Other than one mild inquiry from NBC's Katie
Couric about the concerns of conservatives, none express any doubt
about the reality of a "silent crisis" and several equate
spending with quality as if a cheap relative is worse than a slightly
less than well paid worker at a center. Most "questions"
were little more than prompts for her to elaborate on things like low
pay and lack of affordability. The challenges to Mrs. Clinton come
from the left, as in how she's not proposing enough government action.
From ABC's Good Morning
America, as put together by MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen. Lisa
McRee's October 23 questions:
"Is our child care
system in this country in crisis?"
"What does it cost to
provide good quality child care for a child for a year?"
"We've seen a real range
from $4,000 to $10,000 a year people spend per child. But the experts
say that it really costs $6,800 per child for a year to provide
quality child care. The average American only spends $4,000. Will this
administration provide any funding to help make up that difference if,
in fact, it's going to cost more to provide quality care?"
"Now, you have talked
about models in this Meacham (ph), Florida. You talked about different
models we should look to, the military's model. Will you give us an
idea of why that worked so well?"
"The military did turn
it around. I understand there's some 200,000 children cared for by
"And 85 percent of them
are accredited, which is not the case, a fraction are accredited in
the public sector."
"But you said, you
mentioned it, they did spend the money. They spend $6,800 per child
per year and again, how are we going to make up that difference
without some sort of money coming from the federal government?"
"There's going to be a
lot of topics addressed in this conference. Do you expect policy to
come out of any of it or is it just a way to focus attention?"
"What have you learned
about navigating through, not just the politics, but the PR of putting
yourself in front of a hot political issue?"
"Do you think it's
easier for the public to accept you as a woman in front of an issue
about children rather than something more broad like health
"You had to put Chelsea
in child care. You went back to work. When did you go back, and were
you ever worried?"
This Morning on CBS, as
transcribed by MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski. Questions from Jane
"We talk about the
future of America's children and how America's future rests with those
children. And yet we look at them and their future rests with us. This
morning you're beginning a child care initiative, opening up a
discussion in this country that you and your husband have found very
important personally through the years."
"But I think it's
interesting that you say if parents just demand better child care then
there would be a supply that would rise in a minute. But economically,
it's very difficult."
"What is the cost of
ignoring this issue?"
"Are you a little bit
tentative about stepping into the spotlight? You embraced the health
care issue, which was a big bite to take. And it was a failed attempt
at health care reform. Now, just a few days before your 50th birthday,
you're stepping back into that spotlight again. The public, though, is
a little more receptive to child care issues. Personally, are you a
little more tentative about [it]?"
"What will a win be? Are
you going to announce any real policy initiatives today?"
"And even going to
become more of a real life issue as welfare reform takes over in more
states. If people are following the Wisconsin example, women will be
required to go to work when their babies are six weeks old. And these
are going to be the working poor. There we're really looking for more
federal and state dollars or more private sector involvement, as you
point to Florida. Is that a great example for the country to look at?
What makes it so?"
"We all watched Chelsea
go off to school. And we watched that hand holding and head patting
and this look in your eyes that said, 'Is this really time for this?'
Through all those years watching her grow up, dealing with child care
issues yourself, dealing with the guilt that you just talked about, in
the end, do you feel like you did it all right? That every step along
the way that was the right thing to do or do you second guess, Should
"Were you criticized for
it along the way? I mean you were making the decisions to go to work.
You know, you were sort of that first group of women who came along
and said, 'You know I would like a career as well?'"
"I promised that I would
pass along some advice to you... Monday on This Morning, Faye
Wattleton, who is a lovely 54, and Lauren Hutton, a lovely 53, came on
and said, 'We want to say to Hillary: 50 is the greatest yet. You give
yourself permission to just do whatever you want to do.' So I have to
ask: what will you give yourself permission to do starting
Do more media interviews? She
couldn't ask for a more compliant press corps.
NBC's Today, questions from
Katie Couric as transcribed by MRC news analyst Eric Darbe:
"Well, let's talk about
child care if we could because this conference is taking place at the
White House today and it is clear that day care in this country is
inaccessible to many, cost prohibitive for others, substandard in many
situations, what can the government actually do to alleviate some of
[in reaction to Mrs. Clinton
boasting about the Family and Medical Leave Act] "In fact, I
understand that you would like the conference to discuss ways that
parents who stay at home can get some kind of financial assistance. Is
"As you well know,
experts are saying, perhaps the root of the problem is that child care
workers are woefully underpaid, and the quality of child care workers
in this country is simply substandard, and yet many families, families
I think the census bureau says that families earning $14,500 a year
spend about quarter of their income on child care so there is a real
paradox here, how to you reconcile those two issues."
"As you know, Mrs.
Clinton, regulations for at home day care vary so much from state to
state in terms of the ratio of children to day care provider, do you
think there should be some kind of overall federal regulations?"
"What about a national
registry of child care workers with criminal records I know that that
would be extremely helpful to parents who want to know more about the
people caring for their kids, you had suggested that at one point, and
now you seem to be backing off, how come?"
"A lot of conservative
Republicans fear that this conference is going to lay the groundwork
for massive government spending and regulation. What's you reaction to
"You have told audiences
lately that small incremental changes are better than say a massive
overhaul. Do you think you've learned from your experience of trying
to reform the health care system?"
"You continue to talk
about issues you care deeply about, particularly regarding women,
families, and children but you certainly have not taken such a high
profile policy making role since your health care reform efforts were
unsuccessful and your job approval, I understand, is at an all time
high, by one poll a whopping 67 percent. Do you interpret that as
Americans simply are not ready to have a First Lady in such a high
profile public policy role?"
"Before we go I have to
ask you: How is life without Chelsea?"
There's actually even more
sucking up to explore. Coming tomorrow: CNN's interview with Hillary
Clinton, plus another news story on the glories of French day care. If
only we cared about children as much as do the French.
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe