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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday June 26, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 100)

Donaldson Gets Chinese Arrested; 
Geraldo Protects Clinton 

1) ABC and NBC focused Thursday on the arrests of dissidents in what Sam Donaldson called "a police state." Minutes later Peter Jennings said he learned "the only people who think China is a communist country now live in Washington." CBS took on Taiwan and Motorola.

2) Geraldo Rivera in China for NBC's Today: Tiananmen Square no big deal, everybody loves Clinton and don't care about Monica.

>>> The June 29 edition of Notable Quotables has now been posted on the MRC home page by the MRC's Sean Henry. Just go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org and you'll see it listed. <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The networks didn't use Clinton's arrival in China as a hook to focus on Chinese donations to the Democrats or why technology waivers were approved, but their reporting Thursday night hardly following the White House script. ABC and NBC allocated more time to the arrest of some dissidents than to Clinton's arrival, as both Sam Donaldson and David Bloom contrasted Clinton's policy hope that prodding the Chinese will lead to improvements, with the reality. "When it comes to political dissidents," concluded NBC's Bloom, "it appears the Chinese authorities aren't listening." And, "No matter what President Clinton may say about progress," echoed ABC's Donaldson, "China is still a police state." Over on CBS, Scott Pelley looked at how China's concern about Taiwan is "overshadowing" the summit.

     ABC also ran stories on the new rich and old poor in China while CBS examined how Motorola rationalizes working in a country with little respect for its citizens and NBC traveled to Tibet.

     China led the CBS, FNC and NBC newscasts Thursday night, June 25. CNN began with Susan McDougal's release from prison and the Supreme Court decisions topped ABC. Every network briefly noted the grand jury appearance planned for Tuesday by Linda Tripp. All but CNN, which led with a full report, ran brief items on Susan McDougal's release.

     Here's a rundown of how much priority each network gave the various Supreme Court decisions announced Thursday. ABC ran full stories on the four big rulings: line item veto unconstitutional, HIV a protected status under the Americans with Disabilities Act, NEA may consider decency when awarding grants, and attorney-client privilege protects Vince Foster's comments to his lawyer before he died. CBS skipped the NEA, mentioned the "setback for Starr" on Foster and ran full stories on the line item veto and HIV ruling. CNN provided full reports on everything but the line item, which got a few seconds. FNC mentioned HIV and Foster and ran one story that covered both the NEA and line item. NBC devoted the least time to the rulings, ignoring the NEA decision, just mentioning the HIV and Foster rulings while running a full report only on the line item veto.

     Some highlights from the Thursday, June 25 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Sam Donaldson opened with the welcoming ceremony in Xian featuring and "effusive" greeting from the Mayor which was reciprocated by Clinton. But, Donaldson contrasted, China rounded up human rights activists, including a local middle school teacher. Donaldson showed himself asking the Mayor about the teacher and then recounted his day:
     "We sought out a friend of the arrested man who promised us an interview. But when we drove up to his building security officers, clearly expecting us, closed the gate. We tried anyway. But a guard, brandishing her security identity card told us we couldn't enter the building in order to protect state security."
     After showing Clinton refusing to answer a question about the round-up of dissidents, Donaldson concluded with this tough assessment:
     "And here's the postscript to this story: The man we went to interview but were not allowed to see, a 30-year-old advertising executive named Yang Hi (sp?), was arrested a few hours later. His family cannot learn his whereabouts. U.S. Ambassador James Sasser is said to be protesting this and other arrests to Beijing, but it's an incident, Peter, that further mars this trip and an incident that shows no matter what President Clinton may say about progress, that China is still a police state."

     ABC dedicated A Closer Look to "the new China." Peter Jennings asserted: "Various Chinese tell us today that the only people who think China is a communist country now live in Washington. Today in China, for many people, it is really about the pursuit of wealth." Jennings told viewers about a woman developing condos, an Internet café owner and a man creating aquariums. Next, Deborah Wang showed the other end of Chinese society: the majority who live in rural poverty.

     -- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley showed a few seconds of the welcoming ceremony before switching focus:
     "Mr. Clinton wants to move ahead on human rights, the environment and expanding trade but progress will be limited by an issue that overshadows the summit: Taiwan. The Chines are obsessed by regaining the island 90 miles off their coast...."
     Recalling the flashpoint it was with the U.S. two years ago that prompted Clinton to send in two aircraft carriers, Pelley pictured trouble ahead as some Taiwanese leaders want complete independence. Concluded Pelley: "Despite the high stakes, relations between the U.S. and China can never be normal so long as Taiwan remains the last beachhead of the Cold War."

     For the "Journey to China" segment Dan Rather looked at how fast China is changing, going in five years from roads packed with two-wheelers to highways jammed with cars. The boom is presenting big opportunities for Western companies, such a Motorola's cellular phone technology. Rather talked with the President of Motorola's Asian division about the challenges of introducing high-tech without letting China gain any dangerous information. Specifically, safeguards Motorola imposed during the Chinese launch of six satellites for Motorola's "Iridium" worldwide phone system based on 66 satellites. At another point Rather posed this leading question: "There has to be at sometime conversations in the upper tiers of your management and leadership, listen we're doing business, it's a great business, it's a good business but in a country where the government in some ways treats its people poorly. Do you have those conversations?"

     -- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET. Live from Xian China at 8:12am Friday morning, Wolf Blitzer focused his story on National Security Council efforts to get China to agree to de-target U.S. cities. Blitzer also highlighted the arrests of the dissidents and how Clinton ignored questions about them.

     -- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report led with Jim Angle in China. Angle's angle: How no major announcements or agreements are expected. FNC also showed Clinton ignoring questions about the dissidents.

     -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw opened:
     "Good evening. President Clinton had been in China only a few hours when the issues of human rights and free speech were forced into the open with the reported arrest of a dissident at the President's first stop, Xian, the ancient capital south of Beijing. Mr. Clinton was told of the reported arrest and in his public remarks he did remind the Chinese that the success of America grows out of the freedom of every citizen."
     David Bloom explained how three locals were detained. A woman told NBC how her husband Yang (sp?) "was arrested just hours before President Clinton arrived as Yang tried to leave his office for an interview with a U.S. reporter which could have embarrassed the Chinese government." (Sounds like Donaldson.)
     Human rights groups expressed outrage, but Bloom noted, Clinton remained silent, ignoring questions and defending his trip. Through a translator, the woman blasted Clinton: "Clinton once said that the Chinese human rights situation has improved. I think it's regrettable for a President to say such a thing. He doesn't understand China."
     Bloom then offered Clinton's policy prescription before concluding by describing it as ineffective: "The President is convinced though that only by prodding China on human rights while pursuing a broad range of issues will progress be made. When it comes to political dissidents, here in Xian at least, it appears the Chinese authorities aren't listening."

     Next, Jim Maceda looked at the plight of Tibet where the people have been "seduced" with jobs and services and the Chinese pour in. Kids pledge allegiance to China not the Dalai Lama, Maceda explained before passing along this alarm: "In exile the Dalai Lama warns the flood of Chinese men and money will kill Tibet's freedom more efficiently than any weapon...."

     Later in the show Jim Miklaszewski highlighted how Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich are using their clout "to bring home the pork."  Gingrich got more C-130 cargo planes built by Lockheed Martin in his district than the Air Force wanted and Lott added $50 million for an aircraft carrier to be built in Mississippi that the Navy doesn't want it. Miklaszewski ended with this scolding:
     "Both sides have always used the Pentagon budget to win votes back home, but now that Defense spending is tighter, when lawmakers add money in one place the services have to give up something else. It may be good politics, but critics call it bad budgeting that could eventually take a toll on national defense."

     But no worse than just cutting divisions and equipment as Clinton has since taking office.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Since Wednesday NBC's Today show has featured a story each morning from Geraldo Rivera in China. So far we've learned he's baffled about why anyone is upset about a ceremony in Tiananmen Square, has discovered that everyone loves Clinton and has approvingly passed along in a promo that the Chinese care more about "the fate of the Japanese Yen than whether or not the President had a yen for a young intern named Monica."

     On Wednesday morning, June 24, he insisted: "This place is different than any in the United States. It's hard to explain just why the President's decision to come here is so very controversial. Tiananmen is part Bunker Hill, part White House lawn and part Times Square. It's not just the place where they meet and greet visiting dignitaries. Virtually every major political event in Chinese history has echoed off these walls."

     MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens also caught this exchange:
     Katie Couric: "Geraldo, meanwhile I understand that, the adulation for President Clinton by the people over there is palpable. So he is going into very friendly territory in that regard."
     Rivera: "The people here, and it is impossible for the central government to manipulate this, are ecstatic. Everything I have heard, everything I have seen, everything I have read. The people are sweeping up in front of their homes, they are painting, they are polishing. Everybody is, extremely, extremely happy."

     Geoffrey also noticed this promo Wednesday night on CNBC:
     "The President is getting out of Dodge. Hi everybody I'm Geraldo Rivera reporting from China on the first controversial visit here by an American president since the Tiananmen Square massacre nine years ago. On the agenda: everything from human rights to guided missiles, to the current economic crisis in Asia. And I tell you folks around here they are much more interested in the fate of the Japanese Yen than whether or not the President had a yen for a young intern named Monica. Join me tonight, Rivera Live from China."

     Okay, forget Monica. But couldn't Geraldo apply his investigative zest to tracking down a few of the campaign finance scandal figures who have been granted refuge in China? 
 -- Brent Baker

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