CBS & NBC Avoided Fundraising; FNC Outlined Money Flow; "Witty" Zhu
1) Neither CBS or NBC even
mentioned Chinese donations Thursday night. ABC only touched on the
subject broadly and none noted the Chung charges. CBS even ignored Chinese
spying and a New York Times story on how it occurred in Clinton's first
2) FNC put it all together.
Carl Cameron outlined how money flowed on a "circuitous" route
from Chinese intelligence to a front company to Lippo to John Huang to the
DNC. Plus, in 1993 Al Gore met with the "head of Beijing's alleged
3) All three morning shows
skipped a Washington Times report liking Huang and Trie to money from the
Chinese military and gave only seconds to the NY Times story on Chinese
spying in 1995.
4) ABC claimed Zhu Rongji is a
"delightfully appealing" and "witty" guy. CNN was
impressed that he can ad-lib and joke about Chinese spying.
ABC, CBS and NBC still refused to utter the name "Johnny Chung"
Thursday night -- even after a wire service reporter at the joint
U.S.-China press conference raised the issue of China funneling money to
Clinton's re-election campaign. ABC's Sam Donaldson at least referred
to the general topic, noting how the Chinese Premier "said he had no
knowledge that the Chinese government had contributed money to Mr.
Clinton's 1996 campaign." But the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly
News on Thursday night didn't even mention fundraising in their wrap-up
York Times showcased on the front page a story about how China may have
stolen neutron bomb information during Clinton's first term, directly
contradicting the Clinton's team line that all the espionage occurred
during the Regan-Bush years, but the CBS Evening News ignored the story.
ABC and NBC covered the subject, though NBC did not give credit to the
newspaper and concluded by stressing the White House spin that
"there's no evidence China's neutron bomb was improved as a
result." CNN devoted a whole piece by Pierre Thomas to the Times
story and Clinton's previous denial.
FNC, which considers the Times story a
lifting of its own exclusive from March 19 which gained no wider media
traction, delivered a unique piece by Carl Cameron outlining the
"Chinese military's circuitous route to funnel money to the
President's re-election effort." Cameron put it all together,
explaining how money traveled from Chinese intelligence to a front company
to the Lippo Group to the Riady family to John Huang and finally to the
Democratic Party. See item #2 for details on this FNC exclusive.
(At 3:39pm ET,
before the press conference began, FNC's Brit Hume recalled with Wendell
Goler how Goler had asked Clinton on March 19 about a Fox report that
spying took place during his administration, a story paralleling the New
York Times piece, lamenting: "We shouldn't underestimate Wendell
should we the ability of the New York Times to inject something into the
bloodstream that another news organization might have less luck in
Now, to what the
wire reporters asked at the press conference and what topics the broadcast
networks covered Thursday night.
As usual during
these joint events, U.S. reporters were allowed to pose three questions
and the opportunities went to the three wire services. But unlike previous
events this year, two of the wire reporters actually raised controversial
issues with Clinton and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji during their 90 minute
appearance which began at 3:50pm ET and was slowed by all the translation
and Zhu's never-ending answers. UPI's Helen Thomas did ask about
Kosovo, but then Terry Hunt of AP inquired:
"A question to the Premier. Sir, how do you
respond to charges that China stole nuclear warhead designs and perhaps
neutron bomb technology from the United States and also funneled hundreds
of thousands of dollars to President Clinton's re-election campaign. And
Mr. Clinton, do you find any of these charges credible and what do you say
to criticism that your policy of engaging has benefitted China and not
penalized them at all for human rights abuses, trade problems and
Clinton only said that he has asked Zhu for his
McQuillan of Reuters asked Zhu about charges of human rights abuses and
then turned to Clinton, suggesting he did not deliberately mislead but was
a "victim" of bad staff:
"At your last formal news conference you
spoke about these allegations of Chinese spying and you said it mainly
dealt in the 1980s, that there were no indications that it involved your
presidency. In the wake of today's New York Times report can you still
make that statement or are you concerned that perhaps you were misled or
had information withheld from you about the extent of the
Here's what the
April 8 evening shows, which all still opened with multiple stories about
Kosovo, found newsworthy on the China front:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight provided the most complete report of the broadcast networks,
but that's not saying much. Sam Donaldson began his piece by relaying
how Zhu denied that China stole nuclear secrets. Donaldson then offered
the only broadcast network mention of the night about fundraising:
"Zhu also said he had no knowledge that the
Chinese government had contributed money to Mr. Clinton's 1996 campaign.
The President didn't respond directly to either of those points but said
Clinton: "I hope that he and his government
would cooperate with these two investigations. And so I think it's
important that we continue the investigation and do our best to find out
Donaldson: "Premier Zhu said China would
cooperate, but on the question of espionage a story in today's New York
Times said White House National Security Adviser Samuel Berger had been
briefed by the summer of 1997 about possible ongoing Chinese efforts to
steal information about building a neutron bomb. At his March 19th press
conference of this year President Clinton said no one had suggested to him
Chinese espionage had taken place during his administration."
Clinton on March 19: "There has been no
espionage at the labs since I have been President. I can tell you that no
one has reported to me that they suspect such a thing has occurred."
Donaldson: "In light of the Times story, Mr.
Clinton was asked if he had been misled. The President did not respond
Donaldson played a clip of Clinton saying
security at the labs has not been adequate for a long time before
concluding by noting that the Clinton administration refused to give final
okay to China's wish to join the World Trade Organization (WTO)
-- CBS Evening News avoided even hinting at the
fundraising scandal or the New York Times story and Clinton's previous
denial anything happened during his watch. Here, in its entirety, is the
CBS story from Bill Plante lasting just one minute and six seconds:
Plante: "China's number three leader
engaged in good humor but unyielding give and take with President Clinton
and reporters today for 90 minutes. For example, did China steal U.S.
nuclear technology? Zhu Rongji said he didn't know a thing about
Zhu through translator: "It is not the
policy of China to steal what, so-called military secrets from the United
Plante: "President Clinton said he had
discussed the question in a private meeting with Zhu last night at the
Clinton: "You know China is a big country
with a big government and I can only say that America is a big country
with a big government and occasionally things happen in this government
that I don't know about. And so I think it's important that we
continue the investigation and do our best to find out what happened and I
asked for his cooperation."
Plante: "But on the human rights question
the mood got much more serious. President Clinton noted that the situation
has gotten worse. Zhu admitted there was room for improvement and then he
repeated the familiar argument that other nations should not interfere in
China's internal affairs, Dan."
That was it for
CBS. It wasn't as if the network lacked enough time to cover illegal
donations from China or the neutron bomb. Later in the show Rather took 54
seconds to explain how a cab driver in Boston won $197 million in the
"Big Game" lottery, playing a soundbite from his boss about how
he learned he had won. Since Rather's intro to Plante dealt with
Clinton's answer about ground troops in Kosovo, the 1:06 of Plante is an
accurate measure of how much time CBS gave to China. So, CBS allocated 82
percent as much time to a lottery winner as to China.
-- NBC Nightly News. David Bloom started by
reporting how Clinton had decried anti-China advocates and that Zhu denied
that China stole any nuclear secrets. Bloom explained: "Premier Zhu
said it would be impossible to steal such secrets given the labs' tight
security. But security at the labs was anything but tight. For example,
NBC News has learned that in 1994 six top Chinese nuclear weapons
scientists, including the chief engineer at China's nuclear test site,
toured quote 'security' and 'non-security facilities' at
America's top three nuclear laboratories..."
Without mentioning the New York Times, Bloom
added that NBC News had "confirmed" that the White House learned
two years ago that a Chinese spy passed along neutron bomb information.
Bloom played a soundbite of Clinton denying the revelations contradicted
his March 19 answer: "I noted that even the article acknowledged that
the alleged espionage might not have been connected to the national labs,
which is the question I was asked in the press conference."
Nice to know that his word parsing policy goes
beyond just denying sex.
Bloom concluded by
kindly relaying the White House spin:
"And, White House officials say, the report
about possible neutron bomb spying is based upon one sketchy intelligence
report, that the FBI never found a suspect and that at any rate there's
no evidence China's neutron bomb was improved as a result. To which they
add: The President wasn't informed about any of this until after last
month's news conference."
-- Bottom line:
You could have watched every World News Tonight, Good Morning America, CBS
Evening News, This Morning, NBC Nightly News and Today since the Los
Angeles Times story broke on Sunday about how Johnny Chung had told a
grand jury that he got $300,000 from the head of Chinese military
intelligence to donate to the DNC, and you would have not yet heard
anything about it.
Finally for this
item a brief note about CNN which gave the Chung charges 29 seconds on
Monday's The World Today. Thursday night John King made only this vague
reference to the topic: "Zhu also denied allegations China illegally
funneled money to Mr. Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign. The President
responded by appealing for China's cooperation with U.S.
FNC puts it all together. In a story run on both FNC's Special Report
with Brit Hume and Fox Report Thursday night, Carl Cameron tied together
some of the best-known names in the fundraising scandal, linking current
revelations about Chinese intelligence with names from the past, such as
John Huang and the Riady's. Cameron also uncovered how "on
September 23rd 1993 [John] Huang and [James] Riady came to the White House
to meet Gore and introduce Shen Juren (spelling wrong), head of
Beijing's alleged espionage front, China Resources Company."
Cameron opened by
recalling Clinton's answer to colleague Wendell Goler in March -- about
how spying occurred in Clinton's first term and administration officials
had been briefed about it -- and how it contradicts what Fox has since
"On the day of the President's last news
conference, when Fox News broke the story, Mr. Clinton said he had never
been briefed but would check. Department of Energy sources tell Fox News
classified documents prove [National Security Adviser Sandy] Berger was
told that on Clinton's watch China stole from Lawrence Livermore Labs
and elsewhere technology for the electro-magnetic pulse and neutron bombs.
Over the years, sources say, secrets for as many as seven other warheads
have been obtained by China."
directed viewers through FNC's unique outline, showing how Chung's
testimony revealed by Sunday's Los Angeles Times interlinks with
characters we heard about long ago:
"China's military intelligence official
most likely to be interested in stealing U.S. secrets, sources say, also
turns out to be the mastermind behind China's alleged plot to get the
Clinton-Gore team re-elected in 1996 with illegal contributions.
"At the beginning of a complicated money
trail is the head of Chinese military intelligence, General Ji. He pulls
the strings at a massive Chinese conglomerate called China Resources
Company. U.S. intelligence say some China Resources divisions in Hong Kong
and worldwide are known fronts for China's Peoples Liberation Army and
espionage. China Resources has joint ventures with an Indonesian-based
firm called the Lippo Group. Lippo is run by the ethnic Chinese Riady
family. James Riady has visited the White House. His family has long
supported the Clintons. The Riady family's chief adviser on U.S.
political donations: John Huang. Huang left Lippo for a Commerce
Department job, then became a fundraiser, where mostly through connections
to the Riady's, he collected nearly $2 million in illegal foreign
contributions for the Democratic Party. Thus completes what investigators
say was the Chinese military's circuitous route to funnel money to the
President's re-election effort."
explanation of how the money flowed, FNC offered an on-screen graphic
showing the flow of money with arrows between each name going down the
screen: General Ji --> China Resources --> Lippo Group --> Riady
Family --> John Huang --> Democratic Party.
Picking up again
with Cameron, he noted how Chung testified that money came from General Ji,
the head of Chinese intelligence, tying in Vice President Gore:
"Chung has also said that Ji was
coordinating efforts by John Huang and Charlie Trie, the President's old
friend and fundraiser from Little Rock. Between the three of them they
raised over $3 million in illegal donations that have been linked back to
China and its military. Vice President Al Gore, stung for attending a
fundraiser at a Buddhist temple where foreign contribution were laundered,
has been connected too. On September 23rd 1993 Huang and Riady came to the
White House to meet Gore and introduce Shen Juren (definitely misspelled,
but how it sounded phonetically), head of Beijing's alleged espionage
front, China Resources Company."
by suggesting the Chinese fundraising scandal may be a problem for
Gore's presidential bid. But only if other media outlets pick up on
FNC's discovery, unlike how they ignored FNC's March 19 scoop about
spying during Clinton's first term.
+++ See FNC's arrow graphic tracing the cash
flow from China and watch a clip of Cameron's story. Friday morning by
10:30am ET or so the MRC's Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer clip on the
MRC home page, but you don't need RealPlayer to see the FNC flow chart
as he'll post a still image of that screen. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
Thursday morning network morning show producers awoke to the New York
Times story cited above as well as a Washington Times piece linking John
Huang and Charles Yah Lin Trie to money from the Chinese military.
All three shows
ignored the Washington Times story and only gave a few seconds to the New
The lead to
Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper's April 8 story:
Former Democratic fund-raiser has, for the
first time, linked Charles Yah Lin Trie and John Huang directly to a
massive fund-raising offensive financed by Chinese military intelligence
to help win President Clinton's re-election.
Federal authorities and others familiar
with Johnny Chung's grand jury testimony said the California businessman
-- a cooperating witness in the Justice Department's campaign finance
probe --testified that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) financed the
fund-raising scheme with cash secretly routed out of Beijing.
Chung's testimony in a task-force probe
that has seen 14 indictments gives investigators a direct link between the
PLA and illicit foreign donations and, the sources said, ties Mr. Trie and
Mr. Huang to the suspected plot...
Under the headline
"Intelligence Report Points to Second China Nuclear Leak," New
York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and James Risen disclosed:
In early 1996, the United States received a
startling report from one of its Chinese spies. Officials inside China's
intelligence service, the spy said, were boasting that they had just
stolen secrets from the United States and had used them to improve
Beijing's neutron bomb, according to American officials.
The spy had provided reliable information
in the past, and officials said investigators took the report seriously.
China first built and tested a neutron
warhead in the 1980s, using what American officials have said publicly was
secret data stolen from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in
California, one of America's key nuclear weapons laboratories.
But the design did not work properly.
American officials say that China's 1988 test of the neutron bomb, which
kills people with enhanced radiation while leaving buildings intact, was
Now, the spy was suggesting, Chinese agents
had solved the problem by coming back to the United States in 1995 to
steal more secrets. The spy even provided details of how the information
was transferred from the United States to China, officials said.
The report prompted a federal criminal
investigation, but American officials say they have found no evidence that
China has produced an improved neutron bomb.
Sandy Berger, who is now the National
Security Adviser, was first told of a possible new theft of neutron bomb
data in 1996, according to officials who took part in the meeting or read
the highly classified materials used to prepare for it....
END New York Times
The Thursday morning shows gave a few seconds to
the New York Times piece.
-- ABC's Good
Morning America gave a 28-second summary during the 7am news update and
anchor Antonio Mora returned with 14 more seconds at 8am. (See item #4 for
-- CBS's This
Morning allocated 58 seconds in its 7:50am update not carried by all
affiliates, but as you can tell from this transcript taken down by the
MRC's Brian Boyd, CBS forget to tell viewers what the New York Times
Jane Robelot: "As President Clinton prepares
to meet with the Chinese Premier today there are new allegations that
Beijing stole American military secrets. Bill Plante joins us from the
White House with the details, good morning Bill."
Bill Plante: "Good morning Jane. We reported
last month that there were allegations of espionage during the Clinton
administration, that came up in a context of secrets stolen back in the
'80s. This comes at a time, and President Clinton by the way last month
at a news conference denied that. He said to the best of his knowledge no
espionage by China had occurred during his administration. This comes as
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visits today, a time when relations between the
US and China are very rocky because of the spying charges and because of
the campaign contribution charges."
-- On NBC's
Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, news anchor Jodi Applegate
took 26 seconds at 7am to note: "China has objected strongly to the
NATO offensive even as Premier Zhu Rongji continues his visit to the
United States. And this morning the New York Times is publishing new
reports about Chinese spying. The Chinese premier arrived on in Washington
on Wednesday and is to meet with President Clinton later today. The Times
report says the Chinese stole secret American technology in 1995 to help
improve their own version of a neutron bomb."
Zhu Rongji greater the Gorbachev? He's one "delightfully
appealing," and "witty" guy who can ad-lib and even jokes
about Chinese spying. How charming. That's how ABC and CNN reporters
portrayed him on Thursday, April 8.
-- During Good
Morning America's 8am news update anchor Antonio Mora took 14 seconds to
note: "There is a new report this morning of Chinese nuclear spying.
The New York Times says that as recently as 1995, the Chinese
apparently stole technology to help improve their neutron bomb. The report
comes on the day President Clinton goes into talks with China's visiting
Then, as observed
by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, ABC's Ann Compton offered this glowing
assessment of the communist repressor:
"Zhu Rongji is the kind of foreign leader
the American public finds delightfully appealing: straight-talking, savvy,
witty. Clinton officials want to like the Chinese premier, too. They call
him the architect of China's economic reforms. President Clinton observed
Zhu's success last summer when the President visited modern Shanghai,
where Zhu was once the reform-minded mayor."
-- Thursday night
on CNN's The World Today Andrea Koppel explained how gaining admission
to the WTO was Zhu's first goal, but she explained how he also had
another mission in mind for his journey:
"The other purpose of Premier Zhu's U.S.
visit: To dispel the notion held by most Americans that Chinese leaders
are stiff, humorless communist ideologues. Repeatedly Premier Zhu took aim
at China's critics, showing flexibility on issues like human rights and
toughness on other core issues like the future of Taiwan. He also
ad-libbed throughout the day and even joked about sensitive subjects like
allegations of Chinese spying."
After 50 years of living under a nuclear threat
from the Soviet Union China is now creating another one for us by stealing
our technology, yet a CNN reporter thinks jokes about that are charming.
And I'm sure all the political and religious prisoners in China find it
reassuring that Zhu is so "witty." --
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