More on Fire Than Contempt; DOE Official Charged Cover-Up, Only CBS Cares
1) ABC and NBC gave more time
Monday night to the man rescued from a fire than to Clinton's contempt.
"This is a legal tangle that simply will not die," lamented Tom
Brokaw. On McDougal, CBS relayed how her lawyer charged "Starr used
2) McDougal's attorney
thanked Geraldo Rivera for his help: "You were...early money in this
case." Rivera celebrated "Susan's sweet victory" before
denouncing Ken Starr as a "legal terrorist."
3) The Energy Dept. official
who uncovered the Chinese espionage and identified a potential spy
testified that his superiors "urged me to cover up and bury this
case." Only CBS and FNC cared.
4) Investor's Business Daily
revealed that "lab directors were actually prodded by former Energy
Secretary Hazel O'Leary and her senior staffers -- many of whom were
anti-nuclear activists -- to open their doors to visitors from other
5) On Fox News Sunday Tony
Snow noted how some networks gave more time to Beavergate than Chinagate.
A Fox poll found most believe Clinton knew his money came from the Chinese
The late breaking news just before 6pm ET that federal judge Susan Weber
Wright had decided to hold Bill Clinton in civil contempt for his false
answers in the Paula Jones deposition, made it at last minute onto all the
network evening shows in live updates. ABC and NBC gave the news barely a
minute, less time than they allocated to the man rescued from a crane
above a fire in Atlanta. NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented how it is "a
legal tangle that simply will not die."
CNN's The World
Today at 8pm ET and FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET both led with live
reports on the Wright decision and a not guilty verdict in the Little Rock
trial of Susan McDougal. Only CNN had anyone in Little Rock and went to
Bob Franken outside the courthouse at the top of their show. FNC's David
Shuster appeared from Fox's DC studio and uniquely made a point not
mentioned by any of the other networks: "President Clinton has now
become the first sitting President in U.S. history to be held in civil
contempt of court...."
Of the broadcast
networks only CBS ran a full story on McDougal. Without bothering to give
the Starr point of view, reporter Eric Engberg relayed how McDougal's
attorney "charged during the trial that Starr used Hitler-style
Here's how the
broadcast networks handled the contempt news and the verdict in the
McDougal trial on Monday night, April 12, the first night since the
beginning of the Kosovo War in which all of the networks devoted less than
half their air time to the war and some led with other topics:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight still led with Kosovo. Leading into the first ad break anchor
Peter Jennings plugged the bad news for Clinton by emphasizing how it may
not be so bad: "When we come back: a judge rules that the President
is in contempt, or was. It may sound worse than it is."
Live from the
White House John Cochran explained how Wright said Clinton lied,
specifically how his answers about whether he was alone were intentionally
false. Jennings asked what penalty Clinton faces. Cochran replied:
"He will not go to prison. There's some
money involved. He'll have to pay some court costs, some more costs to
Paula Jones and her lawyers. However, the judge's rulings do go to the
Arkansas Supreme Court which will now decide if he is fit to continue
being a lawyer. And above all this is an embarrassment, a distraction to
the President at a time when he's trying to be an effective
commander-in-chief and trying to get the nation focused on Kosovo, not on
Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky."
"Very cogent," Jennings praised
Total time for
Jennings and Cochran -- 1:10.
turned to the McDougal case, relaying her attack on Starr's team without
bothering with their side:
"In Little Rock today Susan McDougal was
found not guilty of obstructing justice in the Whitewater investigation, a
verdict seen as a slap in the face to Kenneth Starr, the independent
counsel. Ms. McDougal, a former business partner of the Clinton's had
refused to testify before Judge Starr's grand jury -- she said he was
not interested in the truth. The jury today also deadlocked on two charges
of criminal contempt."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather appeared on tape
from Belgrade, the first anchor with a first-hand look at the war. Live
from the White House Scott Pelley handled the contempt story, noting:
"In her ruling Judge Wright says quote: 'there is simply no
escaping the fact that the President deliberately violated this court's
discovery orders and thereby undermined the integrity of the judicial
After a clip of
Clinton in the deposition saying "I don't recall" when asked
if he was ever alone with Lewinsky, Pelley offered a forecast for Clinton
more ominous sounding than suggested by ABC:
"This is a civil contempt citation, not a
criminal one. The judge has ordered that Mr. Clinton should pay the
reasonable attorney fees for Mrs. Jones which could range into the
hundreds of thousands of dollars and it will be referred to the Arkansas
Supreme Court in a process that could result in Mr. Clinton's disbarment
as an attorney."
Later, CBS became
the only broadcast network to assign a full story to the McDougal verdict
and dismissals. After reviewing the case history, reporter Eric Engberg
highlighted how "McDougal's attorney, who had charged during the
trial that Starr used Hitler-style tactics, said the jury of six men and
six woman with today's verdict was sending a message to the
Mark Geragos: "This guy should pack up and
get out of here. I'm happy to be the one, along with Susan, to wish him
bon voyage. But get the heck out of Arkansas and do it now."
Engberg then noted
that Starr could re-try McDougal on the deadlocked charges, before
concluding: "In closing arguments prosecutors said the jury had to
decide whether to believe career federal prosecutors working for Starr or
a convicted felon. Today the jury gave its answer."
-- NBC Nightly News. After leading with a 2:50
story on the guy rescued from a crane above a fire, anchor Tom Brokaw
bemoaned how Clinton's day was ruined by Judge Wright. Over video of him
walking in front of a B-52 with some members of the Air Force, Brokaw
"President Clinton had hoped to use this day
to demonstrate his role as commander-in-chief, making a quick visit to
Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to tank the crews of B-52s who have
been flying missions against Serbia. But, the President returned to the
White House and some unwelcome news. A federal judge in Arkansas found him
in contempt of court for his behavior in the Paula Jones case. NBC's
Claire Shipman at the White House now and Claire this is a legal tangle
that simply will not die."
Shipman provided a quick rundown of Wright's
"Susan's sweet victory!" exulted Geraldo Rivera on Monday's
Upfront Tonight on CNBC.
McDougal attorney Mark Geragos live from Little Rock to share in the
celebration, Geraldo gushed: "If I was there buddy I'd give you a
slap on the back, I'd give you a high-five and a hug."
Geragos considered Geraldo part of his team,
thanking him: "Geraldo, I wish you were here. I'll tell you. I want
to thank you. You were kind of, as they say, early money in this case and
we appreciate it more than I can tell you."
Rivera used the praise from Geragos as an
opportunity to impugn Starr: "Well, it was really my pleasure. I
really thought all along that to bring the criminal contempt after she did
18 months on the civil contempt showed a kind of viciousness that made Ken
Starr a legal terrorist in my book."
The former head of intelligence for the Department of Energy, the man who
exposed espionage by China, testified Monday before the Senate Armed
Services Committee. It was Notra Trulock's first public appearance since
the scandal broke, providing fresh video for the networks, but of the
broadcast networks only CBS bothered to show Trulock specifically charging
that higher-ups encouraged a cover-up of what he discovered.
FNC's Fox Report
allocated 43 seconds to an introduction by anchor Paula Zahn followed by a
soundbite from Trulock saying his warnings were "ignored" and
"ridiculed." Not a syllable about him appeared on CNN's The
World Today, but CNN anchor Jim Moret did take 19 seconds to uniquely
report that some Senators had toured Los Alamos on Sunday but would not
offer any comment afterwards.
What did ABC and
NBC find of greater news value? ABC's World News Tonight gave 1:40 to
the man being rescued from the crane and over three minutes to how owners
of sports teams get a special tax break. NBC Nightly News opened with
nearly three minutes on the crane rescue/fire in Atlanta and spent a
couple of minutes on how more women die of lung than breast cancer, a
serious subject but hardly pressing news. Plus, Tom Brokaw took 24 seconds
to inform viewers about how a second of the beavers, who had destroyed
some Cherry trees in Washington, DC, had been trapped.
On the April 12
CBS Evening News reporter Sharyl Attkisson put Trulock's testimony in
"In his first public statement the man
largely credited with breaking the Chinese espionage case at U.S. nuclear
labs gave an extraordinary account of what happened when he first sounded
the alarm to his superiors at the Department of Energy."
Notra Trulock of the Energy Department, in the
Senate hearing room: "Beginning in early 1997 senior DOE officials,
including my direct supervisor, urged me to cover up and bury this case.
These officials argued that this case was of historical interest only and
not relevant to the contemporary missions and objectives of the national
Attkisson continued: "In fact, some
intelligence officials now regard the theft of design plans for
America's most sophisticated nuclear warhead, the W-88, the most
important spy case in recent history, but Trulock says his efforts to fix
security breaches at the weapons labs were blocked at every turn, even
when he identified suspects in early 1996."
Trulock disclosed: "These suspects, however,
retained their clearances and access to sensitive nuclear weapons design
information until December of 1998."
Attkisson concluded: "The secrets in the
W-88 case were stolen back in the 1980s. But this new charge of a cover-up
seriously undermines the Clinton administration's insistence that the
nuclear labs have been secure under its watch."
It may undermine
Clinton claims, but how many know when only one networks considers it
newsworthy. This CBS story partially makes up for the network's
irresponsibility last Thursday night. As detailed in the April 9
CyberAlert, the April 8 CBS Evening News story on Clinton's press
conference with China's premier failed to mention how he was asked about
a New York Times story which reported that China obtained neutron bomb
technology from the U.S. during Clinton's first term. That contradicts
Clinton's insistence that all the espionage occurred during the Reagan
and Bush years.
Notra Trulock's observation that Energy Department officials thought
Chinese spying "was of historical interest only and not relevant to
the contemporary missions and objectives of the national
laboratories," matches what Investor's Business Daily (IBD)
In an April 9
front page investigation titled "The Folly of 'Denuclearization':
Los Alamos Leaks Point To Test Ban Treaty Flaws," IBD's Paul Sperry
"As part of the Clinton administration's
so-called denuclearization goal, lab directors were actually prodded by
former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and her senior staffers -- many of
whom were anti-nuclear activists -- to open their doors to visitors from
other nuclear states and share otherwise classified information."
Here are some
additional excerpts from the fascinating April 9 piece:
....In 1995, President Clinton announced
that the U.S. would pursue a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as a way to
stop the building, use and spread of nuclear missiles after the Cold War.
To get Russia and China -- not to mention
U.S. lab directors -- on board, Clinton had to convince them that computer
models could tell whether existing bombs work without actually blowing
Up went billion-dollar labs designed to
simulate nuclear blasts through "virtual testing." And out went
the welcome mats to foreign scientists. Thousands visited the labs. Some
even got jobs.
But the "openness" policy went
too far, say former Energy and Defense Department officials. They cite
widespread security lapses and the administration's slow response to the
Los Alamos espionage case....
You'd think the administration -- which has
known about the leak since 1995 -- would move swiftly to fix it and stop
Instead, the White House let the lab
promote to a more-sensitive post the ethnic Chinese scientist suspected by
the FBI of spying. It also apparently OK'd his hiring of a Chinese
The administration waited until last month
to fire the alleged spy -- only after the press broke the story. It hasn't
yet charged him with any wrongdoing.
More, the White House didn't order the labs
to beef up security until last year.
Why didn't officials give the case top
priority? Some suspect it conflicted with a higher priority: Selling the
global test ban to China and other nuclear states.
"They wanted to get them on board by
exchanging this new (virtual-testing) technology in the spirit of
scientific fraternity and openness," said former Reagan Defense
official Frank Gaffney.
In the process, he says, the labs have left
themselves open to espionage by countries like China that remain hell-bent
on making their nuclear missile arsenals more, not less, lethal.
"In creating much more of an academic
environment, the labs probably went too far -- at least more than makes
old weapons guys comfortable," said Troy Wade, a former Reagan Energy
official in charge of nuclear weapons.
An ex-O'Leary aide said her open-door
policy angered some Pentagon officials who "feared security
breaches." Looking back, he says, they were right....
In 1995, the same year Clinton announced
his nuclear test ban, O'Leary relaxed security at the nation's three
nuclear weapons labs -- Los Alamos in New Mexico, Lawrence Livermore in
California, and Sandia, which runs sites in both New Mexico and
She opened up once-secure areas to foreign
visitors, trimming the number of guards. She also loosened background
checks on visitors and workers, and eased controls over classified
Energy's own security bureaucrats raised
warnings. In a classified 1998 report, Office of Counterintelligence
Director Edward Curran found "weaknesses in the foreign visits and
assignments program" at the labs.
Now it turns out that China in 1995 stole
secret neutron bomb data from Livermore, The New York Times reports --
which is at odds with Clinton's claim that no Chinese espionage took place
on his watch....
O'Leary's exchange program didn't sit well
with Pentagon officials. "They feared her (openness) policy would
lead to security breaches," said O'Leary's ex-aide, who wished to go
unnamed. "Some of the things we're discovering today had their
genesis back in those days."
But he's not sure that O'Leary was in lock
step with the White House's plan to denuclearize the globe. He says
O'Leary was in over her head when it came to making national security
decisions. "She knew nothing about it," he said. "She was a
public affairs director."
Before Energy, O'Leary headed the PR shop
at Northern States Power Co. in Minneapolis....
O'Leary did surround herself with no-nukes.
A key adviser, still at Energy, was Dan Reicher, formerly a lawyer for
Natural Resources Defense Council's nuclear program.
Among the program's top goals? Cutting
"nuclear weapons arsenals with the goal of eventual
elimination," NRDC's Web site says. Another: Stopping the commercial
use of plutonium.
It also boasts playing a "pivotal
role" in "educating the executive branch" on the need for a
nuclear weapons test ban. Ongoing projects include researching the
"technical steps required for transition to a nuclear-weapons-free
In other words, denuclearization -- the
Step No. 1 is getting nuclear states to
stop blowing up bombs. To do that, Energy has to show them that testing
can be done above ground by computer. It plans to sink $4.5 billion a year
over the next 10 years into supercomputers and simulation facilities,
among other things, at the labs.
Meantime, Energy had invited Chinese
scientists to the labs to pick up technical pointers on virtual testing,
as well as other techniques like lab security -- under the assumption
they'd go back to Beijing and start their own programs.
But it's plain that Beijing is interested
in gleaning U.S. nuclear techniques for targeting rather than testing --
much to the chagrin of trusting no-nuke activists in the administration,
END Excerpt from
Investor's Business Daily.
To read today's
IBD, go to: http://www.investors.com
More on Beavergate than Chinagate. Matching a point made by the CyberAlert
Extra edition on Friday, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that Fox
News Sunday host Tony Snow observed in his "Final Thoughts"
"You know, long ago Washington was a
frontier town, but now it's a den of city-slickers, who gawk in
amazement when confronted by uncaged wildlife. This may explain why the
hatchet-toothed, pulp-munching rodents got more attention this week, at
least on some broadcasting networks other than Fox, than Chinagate...."
Of the Sunday
shows, only Fox News Sunday dedicated a segment to China, interviewing
Senator Fred Thompson. Setting up the interview, Snow announced the result
of an illuminating poll question. Asked in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics
poll, "Do you think President Clinton knew some campaign
contributions may have come from the Chinese government?", 63 percent
said yes, just 19 percent no.
I'll take that as a good sign -- that most of
the public realize Clinton did whatever bad thing they are asked about
even if they haven't heard about it from the media. --
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