Babbitt Battles the Nanny; Where's Trie?; MRC on CNN
testimony made the three evening newscasts, but hardly as the top news
of the day. Brokaw insisted that campaign finance irregularities are
"a swamp without end for both parties."
squeezed in 45 minutes of Babbitt around nanny coverage; CNN aired 90
minutes of Paul Eckstein before going to the nanny.
3) Other than
seconds on one morning show, the morning and evening shows haven't
used Jiang's visit as a hook for stories on China's money or on those
who fled to China. But Koppel did press Berger.
working to keep the media honest, the Media Research Center has done
good," a Reliable Sources panelist pronounced on CNN.
night the three broadcast network evening shows all ran stories on
Bruce Babbitt's testimony, but buried well into the newscasts. NBC's
Tom Brokaw insisted that both parties are equally emersed in the
"swamp without end" of campaign finance investigations. ABC
led with Iraq, CBS with "turmoil in the world financial
markets" and NBC started with Jiang Zemin's visit. (See the
October 28 CyberAlert for background on the Babbitt/Ickes/ Indian
casino controversy.) Here's what the October 30 shows offered:
-- ABC's World News Tonight started with Saddam Hussein giving U.S.
members of the UN Commission a week to leave country. Second, ABC got
to Jiang Zemin's day visiting Congress. Peter Jennings introduced the
"The Chinese President spent
another day in the United States and today he has probably not won
very many new friends here. Today Jiang Zemin told members of Congress
that China was not persecuting religious figures, did not mistreat
dissidents and in fact that there was democracy in China."
Following an ad break ABC carried stories on the end of the Roby,
Illinois standoff with a woman and on the jury picked for the trial of
Terry Nichols. After another ad, Jennings delivered a quick wrap on
Wall Street's day before arriving at the fundraising hearings and
ABC's first ever mention of the Wisconsin Indian tribe matter. Peter
"In Washington today, for the
first time, a member of President Clinton's cabinet was a witness at
the Senate campaign fundraising hearings. Interior Secretary Bruce
Babbitt had to answer questions about the possible influence of
campaign dollars on his department's policies. ABC's Linda Douglass
reports tonight that Mr. Babbitt's integrity was also at stake."
Douglass explained the topic explored Thursday by the committee,
reporting that Babbitt was asked about denying a small Wisconsin
Indian tribe the right to open a casino. Larger tribes that gave big
bucks to the DNC opposed the application. Babbitt denied White House
influence, but long time Babbitt friend Paul Eckstein, a lobbyist
hired by the small tribe, told the committee that Babbitt told him
Harold Ickes didn't want the decision in favor of the larger tribes to
be delayed. Babbitt denied that version of events in letter to Senator
John McCain, but Douglass noted that "now Babbitt has changed
that story" though "Babbitt stubbornly insisted his first
story wasn't a lie."
Douglass recounted how Babbitt now says
he only told Eckstein about pressure from Ickes in order to get him
out of his office. ABC showed an exchange between Thompson and
Babbitt: Thompson: "Did you mislead him" Babbitt: "I
don't think so." Douglass concluded her story: "Most of the
Senators weren't buying it, but it won't end here. The Justice
Department is looking into Babbitt's story to see if an independent
counsel is needed."
-- CBS Evening News. Neither ABC or NBC treated Thursday's Wall Street
performance as anything special, but Dan Rather topped the show by
ominously intoning: "The turmoil on world financial markets is
not over. After a sell-off in the Asian markets overnight, Wall Street
put on a slide show of its own today. The two-day old recovery came to
an end, the Dow stocks lost 125 points, 1.6 percent of their
value..." Rather's dramatic intro led into a story by Ray Brady
on victims of Monday's downturn: small investors who couldn't get
through to their brokers.
Second, CBS discovered another crisis overlooked by both ABC and NBC.
Correspondent Bob Orr explained: "It is a crisis on America's
rails. The nation's largest railroad, Union Pacific, already plagued
by an unparalleled series of accidents, is now drawing fire from
federal safety investigators..."
Third, CBS went to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a live update from
Kristin Jeannette-Myers on the nanny murder deliberations. After an ad
break Rather made quick mention of the Iraq situation and offered a
few seconds of summary on Jiang Zemin's visit to Capitol Hill. The
sixth story of the night: a full report on the Septuplets due an Iowa
mother and questions about the ethics of how fertility drugs are used.
Finally, 15 minutes into the show and following the second ad break,
Dan Rather declared:
"On Capitol Hill today the dirty
campaign money investigation focused on whether contributions bought
political influence in one specific case. Under fire, on the witness
stand was President Clinton's Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. CBS
News Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer reports this was one
of the most important days of the hearings so far."
One of the most important days of the hearings, but in the CBS
hierarchy that puts it after nothing happening in a murder trial as
the jury deliberated and the future birth of septuplets.
Schieffer summarized the case of how a rival tribe that was a big
donor "enlisted White House help to block the project"
proposed by the smaller tribe. Paul Eckstein had urged Babbitt to
delay the decision but, Eckstein recalled, Babbitt said Ickes wanted
an immediate decision that day. Babbit first denied saying that, but
at the hearing conceded he might have to get Eckstein out of his
Schieffer closed with the toughest
conclusion of the night: "So whether it was the White House that
got the project killed depends on whether you believe Babbitt or
Eckstein. What is not in dispute is that the Indians who lobbied to
get it killed wrote these letters of thanks to the White House and
went on to give the Democratic Party $270,000."
-- NBC Nightly News began with a critical review of Jiang Zemin's
views as expressed during his second day in Washington. Andrea
Mitchell opened her story:
"Jiang Zemin was just as tough
today with Congress as he was yesterday, stiffing the President on
human rights. Pointedly, congressional leaders showed him historical
documents proclaiming liberty and freedom [video of them in the
Capitol Rotunda] and then they hammered him on China's human rights
abuses, a very tough session. The Chinese President did not yield...
" Mitchell emphasized how the
Chinese chieftain says his regime has done nothing wrong in Tibet
before concluding that Jiang had outmaneuvered President Clinton:
"Jiang came away with greater
stature and a nuclear deal for China. But he stonewalled the President
on dropping trade barriers and stopping nuclear sales to India and
Pakistan. So for all his talk of loving American poetry and music,
Jiang gave almost nothing and got what he wanted."
Next, NBC ran an In Their Own Words segment featuring Congressman
Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) narrating home video he took during a recent
trip to Tibet. Brokaw then briefly noted the Iraq situation before
shifting to a story on Paula Jones:
"There's an important new
development tonight in the Paula Jones case. Why is she suing
President Clinton? The reasons may have changed. This could be a
significant turn in the pre-trial maneuvering."
Pete Williams explained how Paula
Jones has dropped her complaints about protecting her reputation,
which may be part of a strategy to make that off limits to Clinton's
lawyers. Her new complaint says that after her encounter with Clinton
she was punished by not getting a merit pay increase. But, Williams
insisted, records obtained by NBC News prove she got a merit raise
despite having received a low score in a written merit test. Jones now
also claims, Williams relayed, that female state employees who slept
with Clinton got job benefits like raises and promotions.
Immediately after the first ad break NBC got to Babbitt, the earliest
of the three networks. But Tom Brokaw portrayed both parties as
"In Washington tonight one
of the most dramatic stories to come out of the campaign finance
investigations, which seem to be a swamp without end for both parties.
This one involved a decision by the Interior Secretary to deny
gambling rights to an Indian tribe, his best friend, and now a bitter
Lisa Myers explained: "It is
two battles. One a political fight with potentially huge losses for
the Clinton administration. Another, a deeply personal fight between
these two men, rupturing a friendship of more than 30 years."
The Senators, Myers noted, wanted
to know if Babbitt did "allow campaign money to influence
government policy." She concluded: "Babbitt's troubles do
not end here. Not only has this cost him a friendship, he's now under
investigation by the Justice Department."
2) A verdict
in the nanny murder trial finally came Thursday night, but until then
it seemed that the more nothing happened as the jury deliberated the
more CNN and MSNBC found excuses to focus on the trail. During the day
Thursday, MSNBC skipped Paul Eckstein's morning testimony. MSNBC went
live with Bruce Babbitt at 2:30pm ET, but stuck with it for just 45
minutes, cutting out at about 3:15pm for a one hour discussion of the
nanny murder trial.
CNN carried Eckstein's testimony live from just past 10am ET until
dropping out at 11:30am ET for CNN & Company which focused on, you
guessed it, the nanny murder. CNN picked up with Babbitt at 2:30pm ET
and remained with it until shortly before 4pm ET with analysis from
Brooks Jackson and Candy Crowley.
3) The leader
of the country implicated in funneling money into U.S. elections comes
to America. Several figures in the fundraising scandal, including
Charlie Trie, flee to his country in order to evade subpoena's.
Naturally, a major topic for the news media to jump on. Or so you'd
But neither topic was raised by reporters in Wednesday's joint news
conference. And news that Clinton asked Jiang Zemin about funneling
money into the U.S. generated exactly one 15 second item on one
broadcast network news show. During the 7:30am news update on October
30, MRC analyst Gene Eliasen observed, Good Morning America news
reader Kevin Newman reported: "Was there a China connection to
Democratic Party fundraising? The White House says President Clinton
asked that question of Chinese President Jiang Zemin yesterday. Jiang
reportedly said China was not involved in any illegal donations and
that China will cooperate with U. S. investigators."
That was it on Thursday's morning shows. Today's Matt Lauer
interviewed National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, but didn't raise
anything related to fundraising. In fact, other than Newman's brief
item, Thursday's morning shows avoided fundraising.
Wednesday night, however, Ted Koppel did press Berger on whether the
President really asked Jiang Zemin to help the investigation into
fundraising. Here's a bit of the October 29 interview:
Koppel: "I just want to ask you about what President Jiang's
reaction was when the President raised the issue of trying to buy
influence in American elections? How forcefully was the issue raised
and what was Mr Jiang's reaction?"
After Berger said the Chinese deny the
allegations, Koppel pushed for a real answer: "No, I understand
that. My question was did the President raise it and how
Berger: "The President did raise
it with President Jiang last night and President Jiang said two
things. Number one, he said that their own inquiry, their own
investigation was not able to find anything to corroborate this,
number one. But number two that he would cooperate with any
investigation that was going on in the United States."
Koppel: "Including sending Charlie
Trie back to the United States or anyone else who may be sitting over
there with information?"
Berger: "I have no idea whether
they have control or know where Charlie Trie is or not."
Koppel: "Oh, I'll bet you they
could find him if they wanted to and I think you know that, too."
Berger: "No, I think this is an
investigation being conducted by the Justice Department, being
conducted by congressional committees, not the..."
Koppel: "My only question was did,
no, I'm simply asking did the President or anyone in his behalf ask
the Chinese would they send Charlie Trie back?"
Berger: "The President said will
you cooperate with investigations and the Chinese said yes."
Koppel: "But is it your
understanding that when that sort of broad question is raised that
that includes within it, I mean would Chinese cooperation include
returning to the United States people who are being sought here under
subpoena for questioning by Congress?"
Berger: "Well, if that is
something that is part of the investigation."
Koppel: "Well, I think it is.
In other words, the President really didn't push for cooperation with
investigators. If only a few more reporters were as persistent and
saluted on CNN. I usually watch CNN's Sunday morning Reliable Sources
show. But on the one I missed they featured a nice plug for the MRC
that MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught. In the end of the program
"The good, the bad and the ugly" awards John Podhoretz, the
only conservative allowed on the show, praised the MRC:
"The Media Research Center
celebrated its tenth anniversary this week. This provocative
organization based in Alexandria, Virginia is dedicated to exposing
liberal bias in the media and it does so in the very best way, by
letting the bias speak for itself, by reporting offensive and
outrageous quotes and distortions from news stories and television
broadcasts. For working to keep the media honest, the Media Research
Center has done good."
Thanks. We appreciate the vote of confidence. At the MRC we all wish
John success as he moves from the Weekly Standard, where he's been
Deputy Editor, to run the New York Post editorial page.
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe