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
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
3) Julian Simon, the man who
did more than any other to discredit environmental doom and gloom, has
passed away. What he told MediaWatch.
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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
-- "Gandhi Award to Clinton Linked to
$325,000 Gift: Documents contradict campaign's contention days before '96
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
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
-- 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
"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
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."
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
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.
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.
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,
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."....
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
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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