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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday, February 11, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 24)

Dissembling on a Non-Sex Scandal Skipped; Raines Rained Out by CBS

1) The Clinton campaign made "false" statements about a quid pro quo for a donor and some Clinton associates have ties to China, but the networks ignored both Tuesday revelations.

2) The White House leaks too, but only ABC made the point Monday as CBS ignored Ashley Raines and instead ran with an attack on Starr's integrity. Meanwhile, NBC found someone who thinks Clinton's sex habits make him "more human and relatable."

3) Julian Simon, the man who did more than any other to discredit environmental doom and gloom, has passed away. What he told MediaWatch.

Go to Sea with the MRC. A Bermuda Vacation with your fellow members of the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy." Join the Media Research Center, National Review, and several of today's most distinguished conservative commentators, as we set sail for beautiful Bermuda. The ship leaves New York on May 23 and returns on May 30.

You can participate in four special seminars, starring our guest speakers: they'll give their thoughts, and hear yours, on the two issues that make every conservative's blood boil: media bias and political correctness.

The All-Star Conservative Cast includes MRC's Brent Bozell, syndicated columnist Mona Charen, U.S. News & World Report columnist John Leo, Judge Robert Bork, California "Proposition 209" champion Ward Connerly, NR Washington Editor Kate O'Beirne, former NR Publisher William Rusher, noted author and social critic Midge Decter, and NR's new Editor Rich Lowery.

Just e-mail Bonnie Goff: bgoff@mediaresearch.org or call her at (800) MRC-1423 ext. 122 and she'll send you a Cruise Kit.

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Tuesday's newspapers brought two new stories on the Democratic/Clinton fundraising front, but the broadcast networks ignored both. A Los Angeles Times story revealed another instance of Clinton dissembling, reporting that contrary to claims at the time, a large donor got something in return from Clinton. Also benefitting from one of those infamous "leaks," The Washington Post revealed that the Senate investigating committee will report that donors close to Clinton are tied to the Chinese intelligence agency which helped them funnel funds into the U.S.

-- "Gandhi Award to Clinton Linked to $325,000 Gift: Documents contradict campaign's contention days before '96 vote

that money, meeting were unrelated," announced the front page headline in the February 10 Los Angeles Times over a story MRC analyst Clay Waters brought to my attention. Reporters by Alan Miller and Glenn Bunting began:

"As election day neared in 1996, a drumbeat of news accounts about suspicious foreign donations began to worry President Clinton's reelection team and Democratic Party leaders. In particular, White House officials feared additional embarrassing disclosures regarding Yogesh K. Gandhi, a California entrepreneur who had donated a whopping $325,000 to attend a fundraising dinner at which he gave Clinton a bust of his relative, Mohandas K. Gandhi, in an unusual presentation with foreign visitors.

"Seeking to tamp down inquiries about the event, White House and Democratic officials denied any connection between the large donation and the presidential ceremony. But newly obtained documents and interviews indicate that those statements were false and that key officials knew before the Nov. 5 election that Gandhi had offered the money directly in exchange for arranging the presentation.

"Although The Times previously reported considerable details about Gandhi's donation and the ceremony, the records reveal for the first time how administration and party officials gave misleading accounts that helped deflect criticism of Clinton within days of the election...."

"A Democratic Party spokeswoman said Gandhi unexpectedly brought the life-sized bust to a May 13, 1996, fundraiser and arranged the ceremony with Clinton on the spot. 'He talked to no one about the presentation in advance,' the DNC's Amy Weiss Tobe told The Times on Oct. 24, 1996. 'The first the DNC knew of him wanting to present this to the president was at the dinner.'

"In fact, DNC fundraisers John Huang and Yah Lin 'Charlie' Trie knew days in advance that Gandhi was coming to Washington to orchestrate the award ceremony to Clinton, according to Senate testimony and interviews...."

-- "Findings Link Clinton Allies To Chinese Intelligence" declared a February 10 Washington Post headline. Bob Woodward opened his front page story:

"Mochtar Riady and his son, James, who control the Indonesian-based Lippo Group conglomerate and have been friends and supporters of President Clinton since his days as Arkansas governor, 'have had a long-term relationship with a Chinese intelligence agency,' according to an unclassified final draft of a report by the Senate committee that last year investigated campaign finance abuses.

"The report was drawn from highly classified intelligence information supplied by both the CIA and the FBI that was not revealed during several months of public committee hearings last year, executive branch sources said yesterday."

So, did network reporters, who have been so concerned about over coverage of Monicagate, pick up on these not so sexy but very important allegations of fundraising law violations? Of course not. Neither ABC's Good Morning America nor NBC's Today on Tuesday uttered a word about either, reported MRC analysts Gene Eliasen and Geoffrey Dickens.

In the evening, both ABC and NBC found time for full stories on the Air Force cadet and his girlfriend on trial in Texas for murder, but none of the broadcast shows mentioned the newspaper stories. CNN's Inside Politics did refer to Woodward's exclusive, but not to the Gandhi trail of lies.

Here's a rundown of February 10 scandal coverage:

-- ABC's World News Tonight opened with a record high for the Dow Jones. From the White House Sam Donaldson highlighted Clinton's release of an annual report on the economy to Congress, saying "the news couldn't have been better" so no wonder his job approval rating is so high, at 69 percent in an ABC News poll. Donaldson, however, then pointed out how his "personal approval" level is much lower: 40 percent in a Public Opinion Strategies survey and 42 percent in a poll by U.S. News, "suggesting the current scandal may be taking a toll, a scandal which regardless of the other good news won't go away."

Viewers next saw a clip of Donaldson yelling at Clinton: "Mr. President, people are asking in the Lewinsky matter if you have nothing to hide why are you hiding?"

Back in his piece, Donaldson made clear: "The President was silent..."

Following Donaldson, Jackie Judd reported that Monica Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, appeared for three hours before the grand jury and will return Wednesday. After explaining that the tapes show how Monica confided to her mother her sexual affair with Clinton and how she planned to deny it, Judd concluded:

"If Marcia Lewis told the grand jury the same story that is on the tapes, then she hasn't given her daughter much choice but to say the same. That is a scenario that could prove very troublesome for the President."

-- The stock market also topped Tuesday's CBS Evening News. Second, Dan Rather asserted that Marcia Lewis was "forced before a grand jury by Ken Starr." Reporter Scott Pelley explained that William Ginsburg said Monica will appear before the grand jury if called, but that he filed a motion to quash the subpoena for her Thursday date. After relaying that Lewinsky will testify that she had the affair, Bob Schieffer highlighted bad news for Clinton: the judge in Arkansas turned down Bob Bennett's request to delay the Jones trial.

Only Dan Rather linked Clinton to the Army sexual harassment case, delivering this intro to the latest on Gene McKinney:

"Not far from Washington, in Virginia, another high profile case is under way involving a man in a position of power accused of sexual misconduct."

-- NBC Nightly News not only had time for the cadet murder trial, but also ran a full story on the "other victims" of El Nino: sea lions. Following two stories on Iraq, Tom Brokaw turned to David Bloom. He began with Marcia Lewis, but then added a twist not mentioned by ABC or CBS:

"In a development that could be far more troubling to the President, independent counsel Kenneth Starr has now obtained evidence from the Paula Jones case that could be used as a springboard to expand his investigation far beyond a former White House intern."

Bloom explained that Starr had received affidavits from at least six women who denied having sex with Clinton and he may look into whether they lied and if the "White House made any effort to obtain their silence."

Like Donaldson, he also showed Clinton's stonewalling: "Today the President turned on his heels and walked away as reporters again tried unsuccessfully to question Mr. Clinton about the Lewinsky case."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) In Monday morning GMA and Today appearances reporters for Newsweek made it clear that their latest exclusive was made possible by a leak from someone in Clinton's orbit. But Monday night only ABC raised the point that while complaining about leaks from Starr the Clinton team has access to the same secret information. The CBS Evening News, in fact, has yet to report a word about Newsweek's Ashley Raines scoop which ABC and NBC summarized Sunday night. White House staffer Raines told the grand jury that she heard Clinton's voice on messages left for Lewinsky and that Lewinsky had told her about sex with the President. (See the February 9 CyberAlert).

Here's a brief rundown of the broadcast shows from Monday night, February 9:

-- On ABC's World News Tonight Jackie Judd told viewers:

"The number of potential leakers in the Lewinsky case grew today when the administration disclosed that White House lawyers had been in touch with attornies for grand jury witnesses. White House lawyers are trying to get as much information as they can and there is nothing illegal about that, but it does expand the possibilities that the leaks are coming from all sides."

-- The CBS Evening News did not air a report from the White House Monday night and failed to tell its viewers about Raines, but Dan Rather did squeeze in this loaded summary of the White House attack on Starr:

"In Washington late today lawyers for President Clinton asked a federal court to find special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in contempt of court. Mr. Clinton's lawyers cite what they say are illegal, false and self-serving leaks from Starr's grand jury investigation, especially aspects involving Monica Lewinsky. In effect the President's lawyers would like to have a special prosecutor investigate the special prosecutor."

After citing a poll showing 66 percent approve of Clinton's performance, Rather continued: "As for why that might be, by more than two to one the public says special prosecutor Ken Starr is politically motivated to damage the Clintons."

A Reality Check from Eric Engberg followed. Engberg looked at how there's no rule or law preventing Clinton from talking about the Lewinsky case.

Rather next offered a brief preview of the upcoming report from the Senate Governmental Affairs Commitee. Noting that Democrats and Republican will issue separate reports, Rather asserted that the Democrats will say that Haley Barbour "sought shady, to say the least, foreign donations. The Republican draft all but calls Vice President Gore a liar for saying he didn't know an appearance and a Buddhist temple was a fundraiser."


-- Instead of ignoring Raines, the NBC Nightly News checked out Newsweek's story. David Bloom reported that "NBC News has confirmed" that Lewinsky told Raines about sex and that Raines heard voice mail left by Clinton on Lewinsky's home answering machine. Bloom also relayed the White House spin that Vernon Jordan launched the job search for Lewinsky at the request of donor Walter Kaye as a favor to the Lewinsky family, but Bloom highlighted how that contradicts Newsweek's report that on January 13 the FBI taped Lewinsky saying she would not file her affidavit until she had a firm job offer.

Later, Kelly O'Donnell recounted her conversation with a group NBC gathered at a Pasadena restaurant. One man chimed in: "Anytime someone becomes more human and relatable they might become more popular." O'Donnell learned that "four of the five at this table acknowledged they would probably lie if faced with the same accusations."

No wonder Clinton's approval rating is so high. He's just like us.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Those concerned with correcting doom and gloom reporting on the environment were dealt a blow on Sunday with the sudden death of Julian Simon, a one-man army who shot down many myths asserted by radical environmentalists and then dutifully repeated by the media. Whenever a particularly egregious piece of reporting aired that distorted environmental reality, we at the MRC could always count on Simon to take the time to explain to us where and how the reporter went wrong.

Below is an excerpt from a tribute to Simon posted on the Cato Institute web site (www.cato.org), followed by a MediaWatch article which included comments from Simon and concluded with some sadly prophetic words.

From Cato:

The man Wired magazine dubbed "the Doomslayer" died of a heart attack at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Sunday, February 8. Julian L. Simon was professor of business administration at the University of Maryland and a distinguished senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He was 65...

Simon challenged conventional wisdom with conviction and ferocity. He wrote or edited 16 books, many of them debunking the doom-and-gloom predictions of population control theorists. The most recent, published just over a year ago, was The Ultimate Resource 2, which updated a work published in 1981. In it, Simon argued that the true ultimate resource is "the human imagination coupled to the human spirit." It was described in a Washington Post review as "the most powerful challenge to be mounted against the principles of popular environmentalism in the last 15 years."...

In 1980 Simon made a wager with environmentalist Paul Ehrlich, who had made a career of warning that the world was exhausting its supply of natural resources at a rapid rate. Simon bet Ehrlich that any five raw materials of his choosing would be less expensive (and thus, by implication, more plentiful) 10 years later. In 1990 the prices of all five had dropped, and Ehrlich, chastened, wrote Simon a check for $576.07.

Excerpts from the May 1994 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award as written by Associate Editor Tim Graham:

NBC's Ann Curry Offers Dire Scenario of Overpopulation Without Citing Sources

Desperately Seeking Science

Every spring, the networks turn their attention to environmental issues, and every spring, viewers see another set of warnings that the planet is in crisis. Perhaps the most overdone story is the threat of "overpopulation." Despite decades of failed predictions of planetary doom (like Famine 1975!), reporters continue to present the doomsayers' side with no rebuttal from the optimists. For continuing this one-sided and inaccurate pattern, NBC's Ann Curry earned the May Janet Cooke Award.

Substitute anchor Jon Scott introduced Curry's April 3 NBC Nightly News story: "In Focus tonight, overpopulation and poverty....

Curry warned: "This baby in Mexico City is one of 1.8 million born each week into a world now severely threatened by rapid population growth...Today's population has already set off an environmental spiral, depleting the world's forests and contributing to overfishing and overgrazing. Soil is being eroded, which in turn is hurting crop production, leading to starvation, and often, political unrest."

But Curry's only "experts" in the story came from the left: Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute, Joseph Speidel of Population Action International, and Tim Wirth, the former liberal Senator turned State Department appointee. NBC did not look for another point of view, like that of University of Maryland economist Julian Simon, author of The Ultimate Resource. MediaWatch asked Curry's producer at NBC, Tom Dawson, why he wasn't contacted. "I'd love to talk to Simon," he said. But did he? "No, I did not call him."...

Simon told MediaWatch: "My research is the mainstream now. In 1986, the National Academy of Sciences came out with a report nearly reversing its earlier and more alarmist conclusions. It said 'The concern about the impact of rapid population growth on resource exhaustion has often been exaggerated.' It found positive and negative consequences. The scientific community has made a dramatic U-turn. But my views are not shared by the press and the community of academics who are not specialists on population economics -- biologists, sociologists, physicians." Simon said Speidel is "a physician. How is he a scientist on population growth?" As for Lester Brown, "one percent of his professional group agrees with Brown. But he gets 99 percent of the press."....

MediaWatch challenged Dawson to prove his report, asking if he could confidently produce data to prove that world starvation is increasing. His response? "Off the top of my head, I can't answer that question. Simon bases his thing on the green revolution," a new crop of agricultural products and technology. Dawson continued: "The green revolution has increased grain production. But the experts are now saying that the green revolution is reaching its limits, and no new technologies have developed to create an increase in production."

Dawson's views came through clearly in Curry's script: "Through- out the world, family size has shrunk significantly, down a third the last forty years. But the change comes too late to prevent an explosion. At the current rate of growth, the population would still soar from 5.7 billion to 22 billion in 55 years. Food production isn't keeping pace, and experts say that means food prices will rise worldwide because of the increasing demand."....

Simon insisted every one of NBC's claims was demonstrably wrong. "I have a wager for NBC. Pick any measure of human material welfare -- from nutrition to the number of cars per capita -- in any country in the world. I will bet the measure will show improvement rather than deterioration. If I win, the money will go to charity."

Curry concluded: "Monday, the UN begins studying the next decade's priorities on population. The main issues are how to develop poor countries and whether increasing the status of women would slow the birthrate. Most countries agree family planning should be a top priority, even though it would cost billions every year...According to the experts, the world finds the will to bring down the population now, or its children pay later."....

Year after year, the alarmist conclusions of reporters have failed to come true. Reputable scientists opposing gloomy scenarios have been regularly more accurate than the doomsayers. When will network reporting on environmental "crises" consider them worthy of getting their 10 seconds of argument in a news story?

In a 1990 Public Interest article, Simon wrote that despite his reputation for optimism, he was "extremely pessimistic about the short-run likelihood that people in the West will get the chance accurately to assess the issues discussed here, and hence avoid the great losses of life and wealth that faulty assessments of the impact of population growth will ensure...there will be innumerable avoidable tragedies because the good news goes unreported. How sad that is."


Indeed, Simon's passing is especially sad because it means we've lost the man who most energetically fought to make sure as many people as possible knew the good news about our planet's resiliency. -- Brent Baker

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