NBC Finally Got to China; NBC News VP Lobbied Clinton for Loral
1) The CIA reported
China could use Loral's technology to improve nuclear missiles, but all
the networks skipped that Thursday night. NBC finally aired its first
China story and FNC uniquely picked up on how another waiver transferred
fighter jet help.
2) NBC reporters call the
China connection "devastating" and "explosive," but
still zilch on Today, nor ABC or CBS Friday morning.
3) Successfully pleading
Loral's case for a waiver to the White House: A former NBC News VP
turned Clinton aide turned Loral VP.
4) On CNN's Capital Gang
Margaret Carlson conceded that Fred Thompson could say "I told you
so;" Al Hunt, as usual, blamed the NRA.
5) Newspaper headlines from
the weekend: Clinton and China contrast; Blaming Oregon's shooting on
All the networks led Thursday night with the Oregon high school shooting.
On the CBS Evening News substitute anchor Ed Bradley recounted recent
school shooting incidents, then introduced a story by Wyatt Andrews:
"These attacks make it perfectly clear that all too often kids and
guns mix with deadly results. So, should the constitutional right to bear
arms apply to the youngest Americans?"
The May 21
editions of ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening and CNN's The World
Today all skipped the China connection though CIA documents released
Thursday showed commercial satellite know how could be applied in building
long-range nuclear missiles. NBC Nightly News finally got around to airing
its first full story on the growing China controversy. FNC's Fox Report
featured a story on how another waiver for a civilian aircraft deal gave
China technology useful in building jet fighters and missiles.
Of the three cable
news networks only FNC carried live coverage Thursday morning of the
Senate hearing on the China connection. FNC broke away in the early
afternoon to go live with the Oregon shooting.
A May 22 AP
dispatch, passed along to me by the MRC's Tim Graham, detailed why the
Loral deal concerns so many. The AP's John Diamond explained what
Thursday night network viewers never heard about:
"Information China may have gained about
improving its commercial satellite-launch rockets likely would be useful
in its long-range nuclear missiles, including those pointed at the United
States, according to CIA information provided to Senate investigators.
"Amid persistent questions about whether
U.S. companies provided missile technology to China, a Senate panel
released CIA materials Thursday underscoring similarities between Chinese
satellite launchers and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Staging
mechanisms, guidance systems, re-entry vehicles and rocket motors all
involve identical or similar technology, the CIA said in a rare public
disclosure of intelligence that it supplies to congressional
"Weeks earlier, the CIA provided top
officials with a classified assessment saying that 13 of China's ICBMs
were targeted at U.S. cities...."
Here's what the two shows which aired
stories on May 21 offered:
-- FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report. Carl Cameron highlighted a two year Justice Department study
which found that in 1994 McDonnell Douglas got Commerce Department
approval to export special manufacturing equipment to China. The Joint
Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency, Cameron pointed out,
objected. But the Clinton Administration okayed the deal. Cameron warned:
"China was supposed to build commercial
aircraft with them, but some went to a Chinese plant that makes jet
fighters and cruise missiles for the People's Liberation Army."
Catherine Crier made FNC the only network to inform viewers that the House
on Thursday passed resolutions calling for release of White House court
filings related to executive privilege and asking Clinton to urge the
cooperation with Starr by witnesses he knows or employs.
-- NBC Nightly
News finally got around to airing its first full report on China, a
thorough explanatory piece from Lisa Myers. Her story lasted two minutes
and thirteen seconds, more than double the total time NBC's six previous
newscasts combined allocated to China. (Total previous NBC Nightly News
time devoted to the China connection since the May 15 New York Times story
on Johnny Chung: 62 seconds, consisting of 15 seconds on May 15, 23
seconds on May 19 and 24 seconds on May 20. Zero on May 16, 17 and 18.)
Myers began her
report: "The allegation is as explosive as the Chinese rockets
involved, that campaign money may have influenced the President's
decisions to relax controls on satellites to China." After explaining
that Loral Chairman Bernard Schwartz is responsible for chipping in more
to the Democrats than anyone else, $2 million between himself and Loral,
Myers got the core of the controversy:
"Here's where the President stepped in.
First he overruled top foreign policy advisers, making it easier to export
satellites. Then this year he agreed to let Loral launch another satellite
in China over objections of the Justice Department, which was
investigating whether Loral had improperly helped the Chinese with rocket
Myers showed a clip of Senator Fred Thompson
before leading into denials from Clinton and Schwartz by noting: "Did
campaign money influence the President's decision? He says absolutely
Jumping to the other half of what is driving the
controversy, Myers told viewers: "But the story doesn't end here.
Another question. Did illegal campaign contributions from the Chinese
military play a role in these decisions?"
She the explained how Chung says he funneled
$100,000 from a Chinese military officer who stood to benefit from the
satellite deal, concluding: "So was national security harmed by any
of this? The White House emphatically insists it was not. But an Air Force
analysis says Loral's help to the Chinese may have caused moderate
damage and helped them make their nuclear missiles more accurate."
Tim Russert called the China connection "devastating" on the May
17 Meet the Press and on May 21 NBC's Lisa Myers tagged the allegation
"explosive," but through Friday morning, May 22, NBC's Today
had yet to utter a word about the growing scandal. I left Washington
Thursday night, but MRC analysts Clay Waters and Tom Roop as well as
intern David Bozell checked the Friday morning ABC, CBS and NBC shows for
China stories and found none, not even a few seconds during a news update.
And the Oregon
shooting hardly consumed the May 22 broadcasts. Through Tim Graham the
shorthanded MRC news team relayed some of the topics the networks
considered more important than the CIA analysis of how the Clinton waiver
helped China build nuclear missiles to better target the U.S.:
-- ABC's Good Morning America: The shooting and
the Irish peace plan vote consumed interview segments in the first half
hour, but in the 7:30am half hour ABC aired segments on Powerball and new
drugs for breast cancer. In the second hour GMA featured barbecue cooking
tips, a talk with Bob Hope's wife, the God Squad and a discussion with
gossip columnist Cindy Adams about where celebrities will spend the
-- NBC's Today devoted the 7am half hour to the
shooting, but allocated the 7:30am segments to Memorial Day travel, an
interview with Godzilla star Matthew Broderick and a segment on Marines
marching through New York City. The second hour included a feature on a
high school graduation in an Alabama town hit by a tornado last month and
Katie Couric getting a lesson in swing dancing.
A former NBC News Vice President lobbied the Clinton Administration to
grant Loral the waiver now at the center of the brewing China connection
scandal, the papers the White House released Friday disclosed. Writing
about the efforts made by Loral Chairman Bernard Schwartz to secure
approval from the President for the deal with China, Washington Post
reporters Roberto Suro and John F. Harris relayed May 23 what the papers
"...The documents indicate that Schwartz,
who has given more than $1 million to the Democratic Party since 1995,
planned to raise the issue directly with National Security Adviser Samuel
R. 'Sandy' Berger at a state dinner for British Prime Minister Tony
Blair on Feb. 5.
"However, Loral Vice President Thomas Ross
wrote to Berger a week later that Schwartz 'missed you in the crowd'
and was not able to make his case. Instead, Ross, who served as a senior
National Security Council official earlier in the Clinton administration,
pleaded in his Feb. 13 letter for speedy action by the President.
"'If a decision is not forthcoming in the
next day or so we stand to lose the contract,' Ross wrote. 'In fact,
even if the decision is favorable, we will lose substantial amounts of
money with each passing day.' Five days later, Clinton granted his
approval, despite what Berger advised him were Justice concerns that the
move 'could have a significant adverse impact' on its ongoing criminal
As the Post
reported, Ross did hold a top position with the NSC, Special Assistant to
the President and Senior Director for Public Affairs, a slot he occupied
for about a year from 1994 to 1995 when he jumped to Loral as VP for
government relations. What the Post failed to note: Thomas served as
Senior Vice President of NBC News from 1986-89. Joining the Clinton
foreign policy team wasn't his first swing through the revolving door.
When President Carter took office Ross left his position as Washington
Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun Times to become Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Public Affairs.
Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN delivered two quotes of note from liberal
journalists: a refreshing admission that a view the media dismissed may
have been on target and the usual reflexive blaming of the NRA after a
columnist and former reporter Margaret Carlson had the guts to concede
that Senator Fred Thompson was way ahead of the Washington media
"I think Fred Thompson deserves a note of
congratulations. The four most beautiful -- four of the most beautiful
words in the English language he did not use this week -- unless he used
them on your program Bob [Novak], which I haven't had the pleasure of
watching yet. 'I told you so.' He didn't do that. And he said this
week, in fact, that it is going to be hard to prove the absolute link
between the two things, nonetheless the hearings should be held."
Hunt's Outrage of the Week hit on the usual group targeted by liberals
after any violence committed with a gun. The Wall Street Journal's
Executive Washington Editor blasted the NRA:
"Jonesboro, Arkansas; Edinboro,
Pennsylvania; Fayetteville,Tennessee; Springfield, Oregon -- all towns
that live infamy because a troubled teenager with access to a deadly gun
went on a killing spree. There are no panaceas to stop such violence but
there are too many guns and too many teenagers have too easy access to
them. It is an outrage to deny that as too many politicians in the back
pocket of the National Rifle Association are too want to do."
Some noteworthy headlines I caught over the holiday weekend I spent in New
-- First, a bit of
a contrast in Saturday, May 23, stories on the China waiver documents
released by the White House:
Post -- "Clinton Rejected China Worries: Justice Feared Impact on
Satellite Probe; Loral Lobbied for Deal"
The Boston Globe
-- "China Satellite Deal Defended: Clinton OK's Plan Despite
-- Second, you can
always count on the Boston Globe to blame anything bad on inadequate
government spending. Even the Oregon school shooting. Here's the
headline over a May 23 news story by Globe reporter Dolores Kong:
"School Officials Didn't Order Boy Into Counseling Because of
-- Finally, the
self-evident headline of the week, over a May 25 Boston Herald story about
several shootings in Boston over the weekend as new stats showed a falling
crime rate: "Shootings Mar City's Success Against Crime."
criminals keep preventing crime from going away. -- Brent Baker
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