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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday April 5, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 61)
Nets Skipped Chinese Military-DNC Donation Link; Gas vs. Milk for Kids

1) Comparing Clinton to Roosevelt during WWII, NPR's Nina Totenberg defended Clinton's decision to play golf.

2) Johnny Chung provided a direct link from top Chinese officials, including the chief of military intelligence, to funds donated to President Clinton's campaign. And China may have sent a "hit squad" to kill Chung, but all the networks Sunday night ignored the explosive story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

3) Loving liberal protests. NBC jumped on a rally against police brutality and a dozen people on a sidewalk led CBS to devote a whole story to claims higher gas prices will deprive kids of milk.

4) NBC's Maria Shriver pushed Cal Thomas to admit the Christian Right set a bad "tone" and she claimed many are automatons who look to Pat Robertson to tell them "what they should think."

>>> April 5 MediaWatch now online. Check out a front page article titled "Two Thumbs Down for Oscar's Honors," by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson and a Review by the MRC's Tim Graham: "Meet the Obedient White House Press." On the back page, an On the Bright Side item headlined "CNN Catches Gore Gaffes" and a piece on how "CNN's Cold War Rewrites the '80s." Plus, Newsbites on the networks treating the China scandal as a partisan GOP gimmick, Time magazine falsely hyping Al Gore's claims about suburban sprawl and how CNN and NBC picked up on negative NARAL ads against Elizabeth Dole and George W. Bush. To read these articles, go to the MRC home page and click on the "News Division" button on the left. <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) After six days Clinton was as stressed as Roosevelt, so deserved a break to play golf.

     On this past weekend's Inside Washington, liberal advocate and National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg defended President Clinton's decision to play golf one day last week:
     "I agree it was bad PR and apparently a lot of people on his staff advised him not to do it. But you know there's a great passage in Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about the Roosevelt's in World War II in which she describes how President Roosevelt, when he would get in a real bind, would go out on his boat for a week or two to try to figure out how to get out of it and to clear his mind, to think clearly about it. Clinton was feeling exhausted, he wanted to get out, he wanted to, let some air in and I don't begrudge him."

     I can't beat Charles Krauthammer's response, so I'll go with it: "The comparison to FDR is simply absurd. That was a war that lasted half a decade. This was Day 6 of the bloody campaign..."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "The chief of China's military intelligence secretly directed funds from Beijing to help reelect President Clinton in 1996, former Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung has told federal investigators," Sunday's Los Angeles Times reported in an explosive front page story bridging the campaign fundraising and espionage scandals.

     The Times disclosed that the FBI feared at one point last year that a "hit squad" had been sent from China to kill Chung and conveyed the import of its reporting: "Chung's testimony has provided investigators the first direct link between a senior Chinese government official and illicit foreign contributions that were funneled into Clinton's 1996 reelection effort."

     Network reaction: Zilch Sunday night. Not a syllable on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News or CNN's The World Today, though each had time for at least one less than pressing non- Kosovo story. (NBA basketball bumped NBC Nightly News in the East.) ABC found room for a look at how baseball's opening game was to be played in Mexico and how baseball is marketing itself to Mexicans; CBS featured a story on how high schools are considering later start times to accommodate teenage sleep patterns and a report on the spread of Hepatitis C. CNN's 9:30pm ET edition of The World Today ran a lengthy piece on a medical school which teaches future doctors about alternative medicine.

     The LA Times story did generate brief mention on Fox News Sunday and NBC's Meet the Press: NPR's Mara Liasson asked guest Pat Buchanan about it on Fox and NBC's Tim Russert raised the story in his last question to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. I missed Face the Nation, but did not hear the story mentioned on ABC's This Week.

     Network producers can't say they missed the West Coast paper's story on the Easter holiday, as the Washington Post printed a condensed version of the story on page A10, though sans the portions about FBI concerns about Chung's safety.

     "Testimony Links Top China Official, Funds for Clinton," announced the April 4 Los Angeles Times headline. Since this all may be news to readers outside the LA and Washington, DC areas, below are some excerpts from the lengthy 3,500 word piece by Washington bureau reporters William C. Rempel, Henry Weinstein and Alan C. Miller:

The chief of China's military intelligence secretly directed funds from Beijing to help reelect President Clinton in 1996, former Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung has told federal investigators.

Chung says he met three times with the intelligence official, Gen. Ji Shengde, who ordered $300,000 deposited into the Torrance businessman's bank account to subsidize campaign donations intended for Clinton, according to sources familiar with Chung's sealed statements to federal prosecutors.

During their initial meeting on Aug. 11, 1996, in Hong Kong, Ji conveyed to Chung the Chinese government's specific interest in supporting Clinton: "We like your President," Ji said, according to sources familiar with Chung's grand jury testimony. Chung testified that he was introduced to the intelligence chief by the daughter of China's retired senior military officer.

Chung's testimony has provided investigators the first direct link between a senior Chinese government official and illicit foreign contributions that were funneled into Clinton's 1996 reelection effort. It is the strongest evidence to emerge -- in two years of federal investigations -- that the highest levels of the Chinese government sought to influence the U.S. election process.

Key aspects of Chung's testimony, which has not been made public, have been corroborated by financial records in the United States and Hong Kong, according to law enforcement and other sources....

Gen. Ji, the Chinese intelligence chief, was named by Chung in sworn grand jury testimony and in statements made to Justice Department investigators during extensive interviews from December 1997 through March 1998. Chung also turned over cartons of financial records.

Chung told investigators that he and Ji were brought together by Liu Chaoying, the daughter of retired Gen. Liu Huaqing. At the time, she was a Chung business partner as well as a lieutenant colonel in the People's Liberation Army....

Chung's relationship with federal authorities took a dramatic turn last spring when teams of federal agents moved him and his family into protective custody, law enforcement sources told The Times.

The FBI feared for Chung's safety after he received veiled threats and bribe offers from individuals pressing him to keep silent about his China dealings. Those concerns grew after the FBI received information from overseas indicating that Chung could be in danger.

For 21 days in May and June, Chung and his family were kept under 24-hour guard in hotels near Los Angeles International Airport by teams of heavily armed FBI agents. And, as recently as two weeks ago, special agents again secluded the Chung family in a Torrance hotel for three days over still-unexplained safety concerns....

During this period when Chung and his family were kept in hiding, FBI counterintelligence agents also monitored groups of Chinese visitors traveling in Southern California, according to law enforcement and other sources. At least one group was regarded by U.S. intelligence operatives as a possible "hit squad," said one federal law enforcement official....

He met Liu in July 1996. She was not only a ranking military officer but also vice president of a Hong Kong subsidiary of China Aerospace Corp., a government-owned company that deals in satellite technology and missile sales....

     END Excerpt

     The LA Times normally only keeps articles up for a day, but in this case this article will probably remain accessible for a few days. Along with the story text, the Web site version provides a detailed time line for Chung's activities and a half dozen audio clips of reporter William Rempel talking about the story. Go to: http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/POLITICS/NATPOL/lat_china990404.htm


gonzalez0405.JPG (12705 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) How many liberals protesting does it take to generate a network TV story? Very few. Saturday's newscasts provided an illuminating demonstration that it is not how many who are protesting that determines network interest, but if the cause appeals to network producers.

     A couple of hundred people protesting police brutality made it onto both CBS and NBC and about a dozen people on a sidewalk complaining about gas prices generated a hysterical story on CBS, complete with a woman screaming about how higher gas prices mean she can't buy milk for her children.

     -- Police brutality. The April 3 CBS Evening News gave a few seconds to a rally in Washington, DC, but NBC treated it as a seminal event. NBC Nightly News anchor John Seigenthaler intoned: "To Washington now where families from across the country staged a protest against police brutality."
     Rick Davis began his full story: "They came from cities and towns across the country, holding names and photographs high, victims they say of abuse of power. One killing in New York caused them to join in grief and anger..."

     Sounds like a major protest and NBC only showed close-up video so you could not measure how many attended.

     Reality Check: The April 4 Washington Post allocated this story to page 3 of the Metro section, reporting that "hundreds" attended. The Washington Times reported that the rally attracted "a couple of hundred people."

     -- Rising gas prices. Saturday's World News Tonight aired a comparatively reasonable piece by Lisa Salters about how gas prices have risen to an average of $1.46 a gallon in California compared to $1.09 nationwide. She attributed the increase to OPEC's decision to reduce production and fires at some California refineries.

     ABC's story was reasonable compared to the wackiness delivered by CBS. Anchor John Roberts introduced the April 3 CBS Evening News story on complaints about rising gas prices by calling it the latest form of "road rage."

     Over video of barely a dozen people on a Los Angeles sidewalk, reporter Vince Gonzalez asserted: "In car crazy California, motorists are doing the unthinkable: Leaving their cars and taking to the streets to protest the price of gasoline."
     Gonzalez then played a clip from the protest from a woman identified as Alicia Dei, who preposterously shouted: "How are you going to buy milk for your children and gas for your car to go to work on?"

     Gonzalez explained how gas prices are up 40 cents a gallon in the past month from record lows. After playing a clip of a woman at a gas station complaining, Gonzalez featured a man claiming it's all because of "greed" by the oil companies:
     "What's causing the rise now? There really isn't any one thing. The oil producing countries did collectively cut production last month and at the same time fires at refineries in California cut into supplies. But gasoline dealer Alan Cherko blames it on greed."
     Cherko: "The oil companies have had a bad year and I think it was a time where they could get the prices up where it normally should be."
     Gonzalez: "Cherko is raising his prices everyday in response to the price his supplier is charging him. Still, he thinks things will settle down soon."
     Cherko: "I don't see anybody screaming, jumping up and down."
     Well, viewers did as Gonzalez jumped right back to the protest and Dei, who screamed: "What are we going to do? What are we Americans gonna do?"

     Instead of dismissing Dei as a wacky crank, Gonzalez took her cause seriously, outlining how protesters have called for "a national gas out day."

     Reality Check. ABC and CBS ignored two factors in the price of gas in California: environmental rules and excessively high taxes. As an April 2 AP story on the then upcoming protest organized by a "community activist" noted:
     "The nation's most populous state has been particularly hard hit. Fires at two California refineries cut into supplies, and a state decision to phase out an additive designed to make gas burn cleaner because of safety concerns could be costly.
     "Then there's a state levy of 18 cents per gallon added to a 7.25 percent sales tax, some of the highest fees in the nation. Motorists already pay 18.4 cents per gallon in federal taxes."

     In other words, taxes on a gallon are greater than the recent 40 cents per gallon rise.

+++ Watch the woman with the wild claims and see the small size of the crowd. To see and hear the CBS story, including the humorous jump from the gas station owner claiming no one is screaming to the screaming woman, go to the MRC home page where Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post a video clip Monday morning in RealPlayer format. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

     To see past video clips, including Today's Matt Lauer condemning the HillaryNo.com Web page and Dan Rather kissing up to Bill Clinton last week, go to the MRC's video page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) On Friday's Today NBC's Maria Shriver kept pushing Cal Thomas to admit the Christian Right set a bad "tone" in the 1980s. Earlier, matching the derogatory liberal view that Rush Limbaugh listeners are automatons, Shriver claimed "a lot of people" look to Pat Robertson to tell them "what they should think." (Shriver filled in last week for Katie Couric.)

     Thomas, a conservative columnist and former aide to Jerry Falwell, has co-authored a new book titled, "Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?" After allowing Thomas to explain his thesis that the Religious Right became too entangled in politics, how some leaders got their priorities mixed up as ordained ministers got away from their true calling, and urging conservatives to encourage bubble up morality, Shriver pounced.

     Shriver: "So what would you say to Reverend Robertson? A lot of people look to him to figure out where they should vote, what they should think -- to be guided by him. What would you say?"
     Thomas cautioned: "Well I don't know if a lot of people look to him to be guided. I think most of the people simply look to him for a voice. For may years they felt excluded from the major media and people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and James Dobson and others gave a voice to their concerns...."

     Thomas proceeded to explain his view that when religious leaders became so active in politics it looked like they were saying being religious means you must be a conservative Republican.

     Shriver, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, then pressed Thomas: "What do you think is the biggest mistake, single biggest mistake, you, Reverend Falwell, the Religious Right made?"
     Thomas: "I think it's looking top political leadership for..."
     Shriver, not getting the answered she wanted, cut him off and suggested her own: "Not in the tactics, not in the tone?"
     Thomas: "Well I think that too, sure. I think a lot of the direct mail -- and that comes from both left and right. The left sends out fundraising saying the right is going to come in and police your bedroom. The right sends out fundraising saying the left is going to ruin your daughter."
     Shriver, still not pleased with his answer, shouted over his last words: "But don't you think that the '80s -- your work with the Moral Majority, with Reverend Falwell that conjured up a lot of negativity?"
     Thomas: "Well there was a lot of negativity going on and still is. Unborn children being aborted, the cultural collapse..."
     Shriver, talking over Thomas the second she heard the word "aborted" from Thomas: "But do you think you were at all responsible for that? For inflaming people's opinions, throwing it right out there in their face, asking them...."
     Thomas, jumping in: "No, I think to Jerry Falwell's lasting credit he gave voice to a lot of issues and put them on the front burner that should have been there, that might have not been without his intervention."

Final note: CyberAlert Subscriber Surveys keep arriving and have overwhelmed us so it will take a few weeks for Kristina Sewell to tabulate them all. So far, more than 400 have come in. Of those I've scanned, over half said they'd be willing to help support the MRC to make these CyberAlerts possible. Now is your chance. To give by credit card or for a mail-in/fax form, go to https://secure.mediaresearch.org/contribute/contributeonline.html. -- Brent Baker


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