Starr No Man of Justice;
Conservatives Yearn for an Enemy
1) The Hubbell decision
"further weakens Starr's image as a man of justice," relayed
ABC in picking up the White House line. In China Clinton can escape
scandal, NBC trumpeted. ABC's Brian Ross discovered the PLA buys guns by
delivering Victor Kiam's razors.
2) Conservative strategists
attack Clinton's China policy only because they are "looking for a
post Cold War enemy to replace the Soviet Union," CNN's Mike Chinoy
The judge's dismissal of the tax charges against Hubbell and his
associates topped all but the FNC newscast Wednesday night. FNC went first
with the opening of the Diana museum in England. The decision came late in
the day, at about 4pm ET, forcing the networks to scramble as evidenced by
how all the stories were read by a reporter sitting in the studio instead
of from the field.
All the Hubbell
stories ran through the judge's arguments about how Starr had exceeded
his jurisdiction, had violated Hubbell's right against
self-incrimination by using documents he had voluntarily turned over and
had gone on a "fishing expedition" in making Hubbell comply with
an overly broad subpoena. ABC's Jackie Judd relayed a Clinton ally claim
that "this further weakens Starr's image as a man of justice."
CNN's John King examined how the decision raised "new questions
about the independent counsel and his hardball tactics."
But other than a
quick references on CNN to how Starr was asking "did a friend give
him lucrative jobs to keep him quiet?" None of the stories told
viewers anything about how the charges stemmed from allegations Hubbell
failed to pay tax on hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from
Clinton associates at the time the independent counsel wished him to talk
about his Whitewater knowledge.
On China, ABC's
Brian Ross provided an exclusive on how the PLA makes money by selling
clothing in the U.S. and delivering razors for Victor Kiam. CBS explored
the spread of capitalism to rural areas, CNN looked at China's economic
problems, FNC went through Clinton's day at the stock exchange and in a
cyber café, and NBC highlighted trade barriers. Tom Brokaw was pleased
Clinton could concentrate on economic matters instead of Whitewater and
David Bloom suggested Clinton was gratified that Chinese reporters are
"not like those pesky American journalists always asking about the
Monica Lewinsky investigation."
Here are some
highlights from the Wednesday, July 1 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. The last words of Jackie Judd's opening story:
"A definite political blow for Starr
tonight. What the judge said, Peter, plays directly into what the White
House's allies have been saying, that this is an over-zealous prosecutor
over-reaching in a bid to bring down the President. One of the
President's allies told us tonight this further weakens Starr's image
as a man of justice."
Next, after Peter
Jennings showed Clinton touring the Shanghai stock exchange, intrepid ABC
News investigative reporter Brian Ross highlighted how China's
People's Liberation Army (PLA) sells clothing in the West to make money.
"The same army that crushed the dissidents
at Tiananmen Square has also been carrying out an aggressive program to
maintain and modernize its forces with profits made from consumer goods
sold in the West....The Clinton administration has encouraged such trade.
It breaks no American law and low-priced PLA products can be found all
over the country."
Ross showed a raincoat on sale at K-Mart. Noting
that the PLA controls more than a dozen businesses, Ross illustrated how
one delivers products inside China for Victor Kiam's Remington company
which utilizes PLA "army trucks and warehouses to distribute his
razors across China."
narrated a brief video clip showing Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and
Madeleine Albright visiting a restored synagogue: "Mrs. Clinton said
the project symbolizes respect for religious differences."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the
"Ken Starr's efforts to send a longtime
friend of President Clinton back to prison failed today. A federal judge
dismissed new tax evasion charges against Webster Hubbell. And the judge
sharpy criticized the tactics Starr used against Hubbell in the special
prosecutor's efforts to get incriminating information about the
President and Mrs. Clinton."
Phil Jones handled
the report and was followed by Kristin Jeannette-Myers who characterized
the decision as good news for Monica Lewinsky since it shows there are
limits on how far Starr can go.
From China, Scott
Pelley showed Clinton at the stock exchange and then rolled tape on a
pre-packaged story about how capitalism has also spread to rural areas.
The Chinese, Pelley concluded, can work wherever they want and sell
whatever they want so long as they don't challenge the political
authority. He dubbed it "freedom within a cage." After Pelley
reporter Anthony Mason focused on how China has become a key U.S. ally in
countering the Asian economic collapse.
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET dedicated its first 11 minutes to Hubbell.
First, Bob Franken delivered the overall story.
Second, Pierre Thomas profiled Hubbell and how he became part of he
Whitewater case. Starr was trying to get him to tell what he knew, and he
had agreed to cooperate in Whitewater, but did not to Starr's
satisfaction. One of Starr's questions: "Did a friend give him
lucrative jobs to keep him quiet?"
Third, White House correspondent John King began
his story: "Another setback for Ken Starr and new questions about the
independent counsel and his hardball tactics..." King emphasized how
it's the third defeat in a week for Starr after the release of Susan
McDougal and his loss on getting notes from Vince Foster's lawyer, but
King did acknowledge that he has earned 15 convictions. Fourth, Roger
Cossack appeared to explain the judge's reasoning and its implications.
-- FNC's Fox
Report at 7pm ET held Hubbell to a brief item read by the anchor. From
China Jim Angle took viewers through Clinton's tour of the Shanghai
stock exchange, visit to an Internet café, speech about trade barriers
and evening boat ride.
Matsumoto checked in with another exclusive about one more source in the
CNN/Time tale about nerve gas who insists he never said what CNN's Peter
Arnett reported. More on this in the next CyberAlert.
-- NBC Nightly
News. Lisa Myers made a vague reference to Hubbell's outside income. The
judge Wednesday dismissed the counts which was leveled in an April
indictment "charging the Hubbell's had failed to report certain
income and now owed taxes of more than $840,000." NBC twice
highlighted how Clinton is doing good works and is able to escape his
scandals in China. Introducing David Bloom's story, Tom Brokaw hailed
"And in China tonight it's early Thursday
morning where the President is continuing his trip. He's been
concentrating on trade and economic matters in Shanghai, thousands of
miles away from the Whitewater mess."
Bloom used video of Clinton at the stock exchange
as a segue to a story on how trade barriers still hurt Western businesses.
Specifically, how GM cannot import cars but must build them inside China,
though they are full of U.S. parts. Jumping back to Clinton's day, Bloom
"And he taped an interview for Chinese TV,
his third unedited appearance in six days."
Clinton: "I did not anticipate being able to
have that sort of open, sweeping communication with the Chinese
Bloom elaborated, though it's unclear which
portion of this is really quoting Clinton and which part just reflects
Bloom's suggestive mind-reading: "The President thanked the Chinese
reporters. Good questions, he said, not like those pesky American
journalists always asking about the Monica Lewinsky investigation."
China is really a lot more democratic and open than Americans, more
interested in their domestic political battles, are willing to realize. So
argued CNN's Mike Chinoy last Friday in a June 26 The World Today story
caught by MRC news analyst Eric Darbe. Amongst those missing the big
picture: "conservative strategists looking for a post Cold War enemy
to replace the Soviet Union." That's right, conservatives are
"looking for an enemy," we don't really care about human
rights. And neither does anyone on the left or right upset about China's
that "even now the crackdown in Tiananmen Square remains the defining
moment in shaping American perceptions of China. What happened here, in
1989, witnessed by a huge American TV audience, produced a fundamental
change in the way the public, politicians and the media in the United
States looked at China. Overnight, a country once viewed as a pragmatic
reforming partner was turned into a brutal international pariah."
"Ever since 1989 China has been a target of constant criticism and
China policy a source of bitter debate across the American political
Following a clip
of Clinton, Chinoy launched into a diatribe about all those frustrating
Clinton from doing what is correct:
"Bill Clinton, himself, ran for President in
1992 by bashing China. Even after recognizing the geopolitical need to
deal with Beijing his administration remains worried about the domestic
political cost, and with some reason: from the religious right denouncing
alleged persecution of Chinese Christians, to the anti-abortion lobby
opposed to China's family planning program, to human rights activists
angered over Beijing's treatment of dissidents, to trade protectionists
and labor unions worried about the U.S. trade deficit with China, to
conservative strategists looking for a post Cold War enemy to replace the
Soviet Union, China tainted by Tiananmen has become a powerful political
weapon for advancing domestic political agendas in the United
Persecuting Christians, forcing abortions and imprisoning dissidents, yet
not everyone wants to overlook it all. If only we could be a bit more
open-minded and understand the big picture. -- Brent Baker
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