CBS & NBC Skip China in the AM, All in the PM; Only FNC Recalls Huang
1) Sunday and Monday the
network morning shows avoided China. Instead, Cokie Roberts was asked
about Bulworth. CBS stuck with stucco homes. ABC posed one question and
aired one 12 second news item.
2) Monday night the networks
presented the government case against Microsoft and demanded Gates
respond. China absent from ABC, CBS and NBC but CNN catches up and FNC
uniquely recalls John Huang's role.
3) "That will be a relief
to the public," declared Peter Jennings last fall when Fred
Thompson's committee decided to not probe the China connection. But now
ABC refuses to admit new evidence may vindicate Thompson.
The broadcast networks are not just not reporting anything about the
connections between Clinton fundraising and China, they are going out of
their way to avoid the subject.
The May 18
CyberAlert detailed how the networks handled the two big stories of the
a) Friday's New York Times showcased a report
on how Johnny Chung said he funneled money from China's People's
Liberation Army to the DNC. All three Friday morning shows skipped the
news. That night, CBS gave it 27 seconds, NBC just 15 seconds and ABC
squeezed in a story that lasted just over a minute. CNN aired a full
report as did FNC's Fox Report. None of the broadcast networks added a
syllable Saturday evening.
b) Sunday's New York Times featured a front
page story on how the Clinton Administration overrode security concerns to
allow a company run by a big donor to share missile technology with China.
The Sunday Washington Post revealed that the Justice Department had begun
a probe into whether contributions influenced the policy switch. Sunday
night neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News uttered a word
about the China connection, a story Tim Russert on Meet the Press called
"devastating." Of the broadcast networks only ABC carried a
Update: I've now
had a chance to check Sunday's GMA and Today, neither of which raised
the China topic, as well as Monday coverage.
-- Sunday's Good Morning America deliberately
avoided the topic. Co-host Aaron Brown discussed the week's events with
Cokie Roberts, but MRC news analyst Clay Waters observed that neither
uttered a word about either New York Times discovery or the launch of the
probe by the Justice Department. Brown asked about the Middle East, the
status of trying to convince Pakistan not to detonate a nuclear device and
something far more important that the possibility Clinton helped China
build a rocket, that could deliver a nuclear weapon, in exchange for
donations: the movie Bulworth.
-- Sunday Today.
The first half hour presented an interview with Mark Fuhrman about a 1975
murder in Greenwich Connecticut, a feature piece on a real life horse
trainer as portrayed in the movie the Horse Whisperer. Topics in the
seconds half hour: osteoporosis, John Lithgow, star of 3d Rock from the
Sun, and a look at healthy snacking.
morning shows: Zilch on NBC's Today or CBS's This Morning, MRC news
analysts Geoffrey Dickens and Clay Waters informed me. The two main
features of This Morning's prime half hour, the 8am half hour shown by
nearly all affiliates: problems with stucco homes and a preview of the
final Murphy Brown sit-com. NBC Today's 7am half hour features: breast
cancer breakthroughs, a legitimate story, followed by more on Sinatra and
a preview of a Dateline story about the father who kidnaped his now
teenage daughters when they were babies.
On Good Morning
America co-host Lisa McRee did ask UN Ambassador Bill Richardson one
question about the China scandal:
"The New York Times this weekend raised
questions about whether some huge Chinese political campaign contributions
made to the Democratic Party in this country affected our foreign policy
and allowed us, or encouraged us to go ahead and share some technological
advances with China that we might not otherwise have shared. Are there
rumblings in the diplomatic corps about this?"
During the 7:30am
news update Antonio Mora took 12 seconds to note how the Justice
Department had begun investigating but that Clinton had denied any link
between contributions and policy.
The networks didn't go soft on Microsoft Monday night, presenting the
government's case but only allowing Microsoft to deny the charges. CBS
and NBC, however, also ran interviews with Bill Gates in which he was
pressed to respond to the governmental complaints.
None of the broadcast networks aired anything
about China, though on a fairly slow news day they had plenty of time. CNN
ran a full report on the Justice Department probe and FNC contributed two
unique stories: what John Huang did while at the Commerce Department that
may tie into the satellite technology transfer and how top Pentagon
official Ken Bacon has admitted ordering the release of Linda Tripp's
Here are some
highlights from the Monday, May 18 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight led with the arrest of Mexicans involved in the drug trade,
including prominent bankers, while all were in Las Vegas. Barry Serafin
opened his piece on the anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft by the
Justice Department and twenty states: "State and federal officials
used words like 'outrageous,' 'illegal' and 'predatory' in
accusing Microsoft of trying to squeeze out its competition."
Serafin ran through the charges of how Microsoft
asked Netscape to divide up the market and when Netscape refused MS
decided to eliminate them as well as how MS realized it couldn't succeed
with a better product but only by leveraging Windows to force customers to
use Explorer. Viewers heard lengthy soundbites from Janet Reno and
anti-trust chief Joel Klein before a brief bite from Gates saying that
making Windows give equal access to Netscape "is like requiring Coca
Cola to include three cans of Pepsi in each six pack it sells."
Next, ABC's Gina
Smith presented the case against Microsoft, opening with a contrary
analogy, though one I find pretty compelling:
"Here's one way to think about it. What if
90 percent of America's television sets were controlled by a singe
company? And those TVs were rigged to steer viewers to a handful of
channels that same company owned. The government says that is the world
Microsoft has been trying to create on your home computer."
After soundbites from two technology experts
about the advantage Microsoft's new Windows 98 "Channel Bar"
gives companies allied with Microsoft, Smith went to Connecticut Attorney
General Richard Blumenthal, who asserted: "The company that can
control Internet commerce ultimately can control commerce itself in travel
and industry, business and news an entertainment."
Smith then concluded with the anti-Microsoft
"And that's what the government is worried
about. Over the next few years Americans may be buying billions of dollars
of goods and services through the Internet and that's a market too
important, the government says, for one company to act as
-- The CBS Evening
News was topped by the success with the anti-cancer drug Herceptin. Next,
Rather intoned: "Well it's shaping up as one of the anti-trust
battles of the century. Federal and state governments today sued
Microsoft, saying the computer software giant is predatory and scheming to
crush all competition, charges Microsoft flatly denies. Both sides say
they have consumers best interest at heart."
Anthony Mason's story gave more time to Reno,
Klein and Blumenthal than Gates as Mason highlighted how one Microsoft
memo declared: "Netscape pollution must be eradicated." Gates
only got to make his Coke/Pepsi analogy, but later CBS showed taped
highlights of an interview with him.
Rather pressed Gates to respond to the claim of
anti-competitive practices and that MS documents show MS knew it would be
hard to increase market share if their browser had to measure up so the
company decided to exploit Windows. Rather queried: "How is that
For the Eye on
America segment, Rather explained: "Jim Stewart looked into a sport
that's putting handguns into the hands of young children." Stewart
looked at practical shooting, the sport of hitting targets while on the
move. Mason emphasized that one of the Jonesboro shooters participated in
the sport but gave only a little more time to a critic than to an
CBS had no time
for China, but managed room for a full story on a perfect game pitched by
Yankee David Wells, the 12th time ever that's happened in baseball.
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET started with Microsoft. After a piece from Wolf
Blitzer on how Clinton is frustrated by the lack of cooperation from
allies on Pakistan and India, reporter Pierre Thomas contributed a full
story on how Justice is looking at whether donations played a role in why
Clinton overruled Pentagon objections to technology transfer waivers for
Loral and China.
-- FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report led with Microsoft. Later, Carl Cameron filed a story on the
Justice probe, but added an angle so far ignored by the other networks:
John Huang, the Commerce official turned DNC fundraiser. Cameron
"Sources say Huang...pressed the White House
to get Bernard Schwartz, the head of Loral Space Corporation, on a
Commerce Department trade mission to China like this one with Secretary
Ron Brown. Documents show Schwartz met with high level communist military
officials. He cut a billion dollar deal and later got the President's
permission to launch Loral satellites into orbit atop Chinese rockets. But
the Chinese rockets exploded and parts of Loral's satellite, containing
top secret technology, have never been recovered by the United States.
Furthermore, the Pentagon has said that Loral may have harmed national
security by giving China a classified crash report to improve its rockets,
which can also deliver nuclear warheads...
"But now investigators want to know if the
Chinese also had help from John Huang. Huang received classified briefings
on satellite technology and often sent mysterious packages to Asia. He
also called and visited officials at the Chinese embassy in Washington. At
the time Bernie Schwartz was donating hundreds of thousands of dollars and
becoming the biggest single donor in the country to the Democratic Party.
Investigators are looking for a connection. The President denies national
security was breached or that contributions effected U.S. policy, but now
even some Democrats who have been arguing there's no evidence to
investigate the President for over a year say these allegations are so
serious there ought to be a serious inquiry."
networks certainly aren't taking the charges seriously.
Catherine Crier raised another subject skipped by the other networks,
"Did he [Clinton] use the Pentagon to wage
war on Linda Tripp? She's the one who reported Monica Lewinsky, saying
she had an affair with Clinton. In a videotaped deposition, Pentagon
spokesman Ken Bacon admits he was behind leaking Tripp's personnel files
to the press. And a judicial watchdog group says Bacon's orders came
from the White House, but so far that hasn't been proven."
Secretary of Defense Bacon was formerly a Wall Street Journal reporter.
The May 18 Weekly Standard features a fascinating examination by Jay
Nordlinger of how Bacon pushed for Tripp's personnel records to be
handed over to Jane Mayer for her New Yorker profile in which she used the
records to show that Tripp had been arrested while a teen in 1969.)
-- NBC Nightly
News also led with Microsoft. Pete Williams offered the same analogy as
ABC's Smith, noting the lawsuit wants "to end Microsoft's demand
that its programs must pop up first when the computer comes on. The
government says the current practice would be like a television network
forcing a TV maker's sets to switch automatically to the network's
channel when the TV is turned on."
peppered Gates with arguments from his Microsoft's distractors, such as
why not let people choose between Explorer and Netscape. Like Rather, he
raised the claim that in 1995 MS went to Netscape and "offered to
divide up the market. That doesn't sound like it's a very competitive
No time for China,
but NBC ran a piece on a nationwide effort by states to enforce child
seatbelt laws, plus more on Sinatra.
Though ABC has run more on the China scandal than CBS and NBC (one minute
Friday night, full story Sunday night and one question and a 12 second
news item Monday morning), neither World News Tonight or GMA has pointed
out how the current allegations may vindicate Senator Fred Thompson. As
the MRC's Tim Graham reminded me, ABC is the most obligated to correct
the record since it spent so much time last summer disparaging
Thompson's claim of a China connection.
This excerpt from
the September 10, 1987 CyberAlert, which starts by reviewing ABC's
September 9 World News Tonight coverage, provides an illuminating reminder
of how the network so adamantly dismissed the very suggestion that China
may have sent money to Democrats:
Anchor Peter Jennings intoned: "At the
Senate hearings into campaign fundraising today what appears to be a
change of heart by the committee's Republican Chairman Fred
ABC showed a soundbite from the opening day
in which Thompson raised the China-connection issue followed by a clip
from Tuesday in which Thompson said he didn't mean to blame just one
Jennings then turned to Linda Douglass,
asking her what prompted Thompson's remarks. Douglass explained that he
just got "tired of taking a beating from the Democrats who every
single day point out the fact that he's failed to prove there's any
Douglass elaborated: "Today one
Democratic Senator held out an olive branch to Senator Thompson. He said,
'look, forget the Chinese plot, the hearings are important because they're
exposing the evil influence of money in politics.' At that moment Senator
Thompson's face relaxed, he said then he was sorry if he left the wrong
impression. And it's clear that many of the Senators now want to diffuse
the partisan warfare and get this whole messy issue behind them."
Jennings agreed: "That will be a
relief to the public."
And to ABC which seems to avoid covering
the actual content of the hearings. During the first round, ABC aired the
fewest stories of the Big Three....
This isn't the first time ABC has tried to
discredit the Chinese influence claim. As detailed in the July 21
CyberAlert, Linda Douglass opened a July 18 World News Tonight piece:
"At the very outset Republican Chairman Fred Thompson announced
dramatically what he hoped to expose, a Chinese plot to subvert American
elections with illegal contributions." Douglass countered: "But
after of hours of testimony, a parade of charts and a blizzard of
documents there has been no evidence so far of such a plot..."
Along the same lines, on the Sunday, July
13 World News Tonight ABC ran a story on how Democrats on the committee
disagreed with Thompson's charges about China. But on July 15 when the
committee Democrats changed their mind, ABC skipped the development. As
reported in the July 16 Washington Post, the day before Senators Joseph
Lieberman and John Glenn issued a joint written statement saying "the
information shown us strongly suggests the existence of a plan by the
Chinese government -- containing components that are both legal and
illegal -- designed to influence U.S. congressional elections."
Maybe if ABC and
the other networks spent more time pursuing leads and less time denouncing
Republicans for suggesting wrongdoing may have occurred, we would have
learned about China's role months ago. Indeed, the House committee has
twice been unable to get Democrats to agree to give immunity for testimony
from two associates of Johnny Chung, yet the networks have ignored that
suppression of possible criminal wrongdoing and instead focused on the
personality of the committee Chairman, Dan Burton.
-- Brent Baker
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