Clinton Spy Cover-Up Skipped; Editors Applaud Clinton Retort of Talk Radio
1) Energy officials conceded
on Thursday that the agency withheld from Congress crucial spying
information, but only FNC found it newsworthy.
2) Sympathizing with President
Clinton about how talk radio reminds him of "the right-wing
conspiracy," a newspaper editor asked Clinton to respond to a
"drumbeat" that he lacks "the moral authority to be
commander-in-chief." Only CNN showed this q & a, but skipped how
the media audience applauded Clinton's retort.
3) The broadcast networks all
led with NATO's concession that it bombed refugees, but NBC uniquely
reported how "Serb soldiers were forcing survivors to blame NATO for
4) NBC's Andrea Mitchell
asked: "As more troops and planes head to the Balkans today there is
this question: With U.S. forces also stretched from Korea to Haiti are
they stretched too thin?"
5) Thoughts on the networks as
world citizens above the U.S. Milosevic can make a charge and the Western
media will relay it without bothering to see if it has any credibility.
>>> Now online: Latest MediaWatch
and Media Reality Check. The April 19 MediaWatch is now up on the MRC Web
site and features a look at how the networks have avoided Chinagate,
titled "Networks Continue to Avoid Major Print Scoops: What Proof of
a DNC-China Connection?" To read the this and the rest of the issue,
go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw1999archive.html
"Clinton Contempt Ruling Doesn't Beat
Boffo Visuals: Ratings Candy -- Great Video of a Copter Rescue in a Fire
-- Beats A Historic Black Mark for Clinton," the latest Media
Reality Check fax report by the MRC's Tim Graham has been posted by
Webmaster Sean Henry. The report includes an interesting quote caught by
the MRC's Jessica Anderson which did not appear in CyberAlert. The
morning after Judge Wright's contempt ruling ABC legal correspondent
Jeffrey Toobin appeared on Good Morning America and implied Wright gave
the right remedy, while impeachment or indictment was insane: "It was
very stinging, but it was also very measured and appropriate and I think
the remedy was very sane -- it was not impeachment, it was not throwing
him in jail. It was just saying, look, you can't do this and you're
going to pay a penalty." To read the fax report, go to the MRC home
page at http://www.mrc.org and look under
"Our Newest Stuff." For back issues, click on the "News
Division" button on the left. <<<
Energy Department officials admitted Thursday that they withheld
information from Congress about Chinese espionage at the national labs,
but only FNC found it newsworthy. Not a word Thursday night on ABC's
World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today or NBC
Nightly News, though all had time for feature stories. ABC looked at new
ideas for computerized kitchen gadgets and NBC explored how the allergy
season is upon us, spawned by pollen.
On the Fox Report
FNC anchor Paula Zahn read this 25-second item:
"There's more evidence the administration
was stonewalling over China spying. An employee at the Energy Department
says was told not to talk fully about spying at the Los Alamos National
Lab when he went before a congressional committee last year. He says the
Department's Deputy Secretary at the time gave him the order. She says
she did tell him to limit what he said but didn't tell him to avoid the
subject completely. China, of course, denies it stole any secrets."
FNC saved time by
skipping the names and details, so to bring CyberAlert readers up to
speed, here's how the April 15 AP dispatch by Jim Abrams on the hearing
Energy Department officials acknowledged
Thursday they withheld information from a House subcommittee last fall on
an alleged Chinese spying case.
A department intelligence officer said he
was told by the deputy energy secretary not to talk about the case, a
charge the senior agency official denied.
"We are very upset," said Rep.
Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services military
procurement subcommittee. He said the two officials, testifying under oath
in a closed session in October, dodged specific questions about spying
activities at the department's national weapons laboratories.
"I apologize," said Notra Trulock,
the agency's special adviser for intelligence. He said he acted at the
behest of then-Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Moler, who also testified at the
hearing, when he did not discuss the investigation into possible Chinese
espionage at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Trulock said Moler also edited written
testimony he had prepared for the hearing to delete references to
counterintelligence operations. Moler denied editing the testimony and
said she only instructed Trulock to limit his comments to the subject of
the national labs' foreign visitor program....
END Excerpt of AP
Trulock's second appearance this week before a congressional committee
and the second time ABC, CNN and NBC ignored his troubling revelations.
See the April 13 and 15 CyberAlerts for details on how only CBS on Monday
night provided a full report on Trulock's charge that his superiors
"ridiculed" and "ignored" his discovery of espionage.
A troubling question for Clinton about his "moral authority" to
lead troops, but posed in the nicest of ways with an elitist dig at talk
radio as reflecting "the right-wing conspiracy."
flew to San Francisco Thursday to speak before the national convention of
newspaper editors. In asking him to respond to the "common
drumbeat" on talk radio that he lacks "the moral authority to be
commander-in-chief." Ken Bunning of the Seattle Post Intelligencer
sympathized with Clinton about how talk radio reminds him "of your
wife's comment about the right-wing conspiracy." When Clinton
finished his answer by saying what talk hosts say "is something
that's way beyond my control, and happily so," the audience
applauded, the only answer I saw which generated such a response.
only CNN's the World Today played an excerpt of this question and answer
at the convention for the American Society of Newspaper Editors, though
they skipped the set up part up front about talk radio and ended the
excerpt just before Clinton got to the applause line. Below is the full
question and answer, with *** marking where CNN began and ended what it
haven't listened to any talk radio today, but I apologize, I do often, and
I'm often reminded of your wife's comment about the right-wing conspiracy
critics who want to get at you for anything and undermine your presidency
and discredit you personally. But *** there is a common drumbeat on the
airwaves now, and it is that you, personally, lack the moral authority to
be commander-in-chief. And certainly I guess there's a powerful
inclination to ignore those criticisms. But if you had to address it to an
Air Force pilot, how would you -- who would listen to the same radio shows
and perhaps been persuaded to that point of view -- how would you address
Clinton replied: "Well, I don't have to address it to the Air Force
pilot. I am his commander-in-chief and they swore an order an oath to the
Constitution, and they have performed admirably, and they don't deserve to
"I just have seen a lot of our Air Force
pilots. I just went down to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport,
Louisiana. I spent endless amounts -- I spent hours talking to the
families, the friends, the people that were there, encouraging people to
say what they think.
"One person said something critical. Several
hundred said, "We believe in what we're doing; it is the right thing
to do; thank you for doing it; we are proud to do it; this is what we
signed on for.
"This is a democracy, and people can say
whatever they want to say. But I have found that the American people --
the vast majorities of them at least -- appreciate it when I don't spend
my time responding to them, and instead I spend my time working for the
American people and trying to do what I think is right. I'll let other
people be the judge about whether they think I should or shouldn't do
something. But I have no response except to get up every day and try to do
my job. ***
"And I think that this country is in a
better place than it was six years and three months ago because we have
followed that policy instead of being totally consumed on spending all of
our time answering our critics. I'd rather work on what I can control and
the opinion of some of the talk show people is something that's way beyond
my control, and happily so."
As Clinton got to
his last words the audience began to clap.
+++ To see this
exchange and hear the applause, go to the MRC home page where by noon ET
today the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will have posted a clip
of this exchange in RealPlayer format. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
The broadcast networks all led Thursday night with how NATO now concedes
that one of its planes bombed a convoy of refugees in Kosovo, but in
trying to explain how the damage could be spread over several miles of
road, NBC uniquely reported that "U.S. intelligence reports...say it
was Serb warplanes or mortars that attacked these civilians over the past
three days." Another NBC reporter relayed how a refugee who survived
said "Serb soldiers were forcing survivors to blame NATO for the
On the April 15
NBC Nightly News, from the Pentagon Jim Miklaszewski explored some
riddles, raising the possibility that NATO bombed more than one part of
the road or that the Serbs also attacked:
"But if only one NATO plane dropped only one
bomb how could that kill as many as 70 refugees stretched over several
miles? NATO says the accidental attack occurred just north of Dakovica and
their warplanes also hit a military convoy just south of the town. But was
there another civilian convoy and who might have attacked it? NBC
reporters have seen a seven mile stretch of bombed out vehicles and human
carnage on the road south of Dakovica. U.S. intelligence reports, based
solely on refugee accounts, say it was Serb warplanes or mortars that
attacked these civilians over the past three days. But the Pentagon says
it still cannot confirm those reports. Whatever happened, Secretary of
Defense Cohen says any accidental deaths pale by comparison to Serb
Cohen before a Senate committee: "I think
it's grotesque that Milosevic can take to the airwaves and somehow label
this most recent incident and tragedy an atrocity."
Belgrade, NBC's Ron Allen talked with NBC reporter Jim Maceda who went
on the official tour of he convoy site. Maceda relayed how he saw
carbonized bodies and a bomb casing that matches NATO ordinance. Allen
then uniquely told viewers: "But there are conflicting stories of
what really happened, some blaming NATO, some pointing the finger at the
Serbs." Over video of a refugee, Allen explained: "After the
bombing, this man says, Serb soldiers were forcing survivors to blame NATO
for the attack."
Can the U.S. fight in Kosovo and still respond to threats in other parts
of the world? That's a concern raised by conservatives in light of all
the Clinton-led defense cuts and added deployments this decade. Tuesday
night NBC explored the issue, the first such story I can recall on one of
the broadcast networks. Andrea Mitchell passed on concern from
conservative Senator Jim Inhofe and warned: "Already, potential
enemies are poised to take advantage."
Mitchell began her
April 13 NBC Nightly News piece, transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens, by asking:
"As more troops and planes head to the
Balkans today there is this question. With U.S. forces also stretched from
Korea to Haiti are they stretched too thin?"
Kenneth Allard, former NATO advisor in Bosnia:
"We have shortages in cruise missiles, precision guided munitions,
surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, tankers. But more than anything
else we have shortages of personnel. Particularly pilots, particularly
Mitchell: "For decades the Pentagon strategy
to be able to fight two major wars at the same time. But already Kosovo,
considered a small regional conflict is forcing the Pentagon to play a
global chess game with ships, troops and planes. The aircraft carrier
Kitty Hawk leaves the Pacific, near Korea, for the Balkans. Replacing
another carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, which earlier abandoned the
Persian Gulf for Yugoslavia. Most F-15s and F-16s stopped patrolling
Northern Iraq to bomb Belgrade. But what if Saddam Hussein suddenly
challenges the US in the Gulf? Or if North Korean troops start marching
After a soundbite
from and Army Colonel, Mitchell continued:
"Specific shortages? Three of the Pentagon's
four J-Star vehicle tracking planes are now flying over Yugoslavia. That
leaves only one for other potential hot spots anywhere in the world. And
the stockpile of a crucial weapon, air launched cruise missiles is down to
fewer than 100 with no new production for at least a year. Critics in
Congress are alarmed."
Senator James Inhofe: "If the American
people were aware of the threat that we are facing in our state of
readiness, there would be hysteria in the streets."
Mitchell ominously concluded: "Already
potential enemies are poised to take advantage. North Korean officials
predict the U.S. will get so bogged down in Yugoslavia it will be
vulnerable elsewhere in the world. A concern also raised today by leading
Senators in their meetings with the President."
The U.S. media as world citizens above it all.
Opening the April 15 CBS Evening News from
Belgrade, Dan Rather announced: "Good evening from Belgrade. NATO
acknowledges responsibility for that deadly air strike on a country road
in Kosovo, but blames the Serb leader and his ethnic cleansing for putting
the refugees in harms way. The story and pictures have handed Slobodan
Milosevic a propaganda victory of no small proportions."
Yes they have,
which was a larger point I was trying to make in the April 15 CyberAlert.
As I acknowledged at the time I wrote the item, which was before NATO
admitted anything, NATO might end up being responsible for the tragedy.
But CBS and NBC, which led Wednesday night with the Yugoslav charge that
NATO killed the civilians, had no idea at the time if the allegation was
true or not and that spells trouble for the U.S. war effort if Milosevic
knows he can hurl allegations to impact public opinion and the Western
media will promote them without concern for their accuracy.
Like during the
Cold War when reporters would say "Reagan said A and Gorbachev said
B," as if both had equal credibility, the networks don't see
themselves as part of U.S. society but as an element above it. We can joke
about Clinton administration credibility, but no matter what you think of
the policy of going to war in Kosovo it's true that if the Western news
media gives equal credibility to the propaganda of our enemy, thus
allowing them a powerful means to affect U.S. public opinion, that's one
more hurdle U.S. servicemen will have to overcome to carry out their
My thought for the
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