NBC Ignored Nuclear Data Transfer; Nets Avoid Implicating Clinton
1) NBC News considers
hurricanes more threatening than potential nuclear annihilation by China.
Not a word on NBC Nightly News about the New York Times bombshell about
nuclear data transfer.
2) Clinton falsely denied
spying took place on his watch and the New York Times revealed Justice
delayed the search of Wen Ho Lee's home, but the networks refused to
implicate the Clinton team.
3) Scientists at one of the
national labs, with their identities hidden, told CBS News about lax
security since the early 1990s.
4) Today agreed to a one-topic
interview of Bill Clinton, so no China questions, but the show rejected an
5) The mother of a student who
survived eight gunshot wounds told CBS how her daughter affirmed her
belief in God.
6) In the midst of calls
highlighted by the media for more gun control, the Conservative News
Service "identified 18 current federal and state gun control laws
that were violated by the perpetrators of the Colorado school
>>> May 3 MediaWatch now online
thanks to the MRC's Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell. Check out the front
page article, "Short Shrift for Clinton's Contempt" and the
Review of gun control advocacy: "Colorado Tragedy Exploited for
Politics." MRC analyst Jessica Anderson contributed a page 4 piece on
how ABC's GMA became a forum for daycare "experts" to tout the
French system and champion Hillary Clinton's Senate bid. The On the
Bright Side article highlights how "ABC Focused on Teen's
Faith." Plus, Newsbites on ABC's presentation of the wonderful
benefits of taxes, how all but FNC skipped a development in the China
scandal and how CNN has dropped Peter Arnett. To read these pieces, go to:
The New York Times revealed in a Wednesday morning, April 28, front page
story that suspected spy Wen Ho Lee "improperly transferred huge
amounts of secret data from a computer system at a government laboratory,
compromising virtually every nuclear weapon in the United States
arsenal." The transfers occurred during Clinton's first term, thus
contradicting his claim that all the spying took place in the 1980s.
Two days after the
March 6 New York Times first broke the China spying story, NBC News VP and
Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert told John Hockenberry on MSNBC why he
immediately jumped to book Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard
Shelby on Meet the Press the next morning: "I said, 'This is dead
serious. Why aren't people reacting to it?' Front page of the New York
Times on Saturday. I assumed by Sunday the country would be aghast by it
and talking about it. And that's why we reached out to Senator
So how did NBC
react to this latest New York Times bombshell about how many enemy nations
had access to 40 years worth of U.S. nuclear research and expertise and
that the spying continued well into the Clinton years? Not one syllable
about it on NBC Nightly News Wednesday or Thursday night.
coverage: This 15-second item on Today during the 8am news update on April
28 caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"A spy case involving a fired scientist may
be even more serious than previously believed. The New York Times reports
that secrets were passed to China on virtually every nuclear weapon in the
U.S. arsenal. The Times says the secrets were downloaded from computers at
the laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico."
What did NBC find
more newsworthy? Wednesday's Nightly News featured a full story on
congressional testimony by a professor, who NBC's Robert Hager relayed,
calls the "threat of increasing hurricanes our nation's greatest
natural hazard for the future."
News is more concerned with hurricanes than nuclear annihilation.
Not even MSNBC
cared. No mention of this story on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams
on Wednesday night, reported MRC analyst Mark Drake.
ABC's World News Tonight ran a full story and CNN's The World Today
featured two pieces. GMA also gave it 20 seconds. See item #2 for details.
The CBS Evening News briefly mentioned the New York Times story in
introducing its own exclusive with national lab scientists confirming lax
security. See Item #3 below. None of the morning shows aired anything
about it Thursday morning, though by then they had a full day to book
Here are some
excerpts from the April 28 New York Times story by James Risen and Jeff
Gerth which NBC found unnewsworthy:
A scientist suspected of spying for China
improperly transferred huge amounts of secret data from a computer system
at a government laboratory, compromising virtually every nuclear weapon in
the United States arsenal, government and lab officials say.
The data -- millions of lines of computer
code that approximate how this country's atomic warheads work -- were
downloaded from a computer system at the Los Alamos, N.M., weapons lab
that is open only to those with top-level security clearances, according
to the officials.
The scientist, Wen Ho Lee, then transferred
the files to a widely accessible computer network at the lab, where they
were stored under other file names, the officials said.
The Taiwan-born scientist transferred most
of the secret data in 1994 and 1995, officials said.
American experts said the data would be
useful to any nuclear power trying to replicate this country's atomic
designs. But one American scientist said the codes and accompanying data
were not, by themselves, sufficient to produce an exact copy of an
American officials said there was evidence
that the files were accessed by someone after they were placed in the
unclassified network. Other evidence suggests that this was done by a
person who improperly used a password, the officials said....
Although Lee had been under investigation
in the W-88 case for nearly three years, Los Alamos officials failed to
monitor his computer use and let him retain his access to nuclear secrets
until late 1998....
President Clinton was first told of the new
evidence by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on March 31. During a
subsequent meeting at the White House residence in early April, the
president told Richardson to "get to the bottom of it,"
Richardson recalled in an interview Tuesday....
The huge scale of the security breach has
shocked some officials, and has prompted a new sense of urgency in the FBI
to solve the Los Alamos spy case. The bureau is now pouring additional
agents and resources into the investigation. The evidence of transfers
from his office computer provided the basis for an FBI search of Lee's
home on April 10, officials said....
The fact that the huge data transfers were
not detected until the last few weeks has sparked outrage among officials
who wonder why computer use by a scientist already under suspicion as a
spy was not being closely watched by Los Alamos or the FBI....
The information improperly transferred by
Lee included what Los Alamos officials call the "legacy" codes.
According to John Browne, director of Los Alamos, the legacy codes consist
of computer data used to design nuclear weapons, analyze nuclear test
results and evaluate weapons materials and the safety characteristics of
America's nuclear warheads....
The legacy codes can be used to help design
nuclear weapons through computer simulation, and so are valuable on their
own. But they become more valuable when combined with specific performance
data, which would then enable someone to generate a computer simulation of
American warhead designs....
The legacy codes and the warhead data that
goes with them could be particularly valuable for a country, like China,
that has signed onto the nuclear test ban treaty and relies solely on
computer simulations to upgrade and maintain its nuclear arsenal. The
legacy codes are now used to maintain the American nuclear arsenal through
It was not until last month, just a few
days before he was fired, that the FBI finally asked for and received
Lee's authorization to search his computer, officials said. Once the
bureau saw the transferred files in the unclassified computer network,
investigators realized their significance.
Within days, Richardson was briefed, and he
then told the President and shut down the lab's computer systems for two
weeks. But the FBI still encountered delays in winning Justice Department
approval to seek a court-ordered search of Lee's home, officials said, and
did not conduct the search until April 10.
To read this story
in full, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/042899china-nuke.html
To read April 29
follow-up stories on congressional anger and the value of the disclosed
data, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/042999china-nuke-code.html
include a list of past New York Times stories on Chinese espionage with
links to each. Please note: You must be a New York Times online registered
user to access these pages.
As the New York Times article excerpted above reported, the latest
allegations center around events in 1994-95. Directly implicating the
Clinton administration, the Times revealed that even after the FBI
discovered the secret data transfer, "the FBI still encountered
delays in winning Justice Department approval to seek a court-ordered
search of Lee's home."
ABC and CBS, unlike NBC, covered the Times story, neither implicated the
Clinton administration. ABC's Barry Serafin even allowed Energy
Secretary Bill Richardson to scapegoat low-level officials at the labs.
background on Clinton obfuscation. At his March 19 press conference
Wendell Goler of FNC asked Clinton about charges that nuclear secrets
leaked during his term. Clinton replied: "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."
At the April 8
joint press conference with Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, Larry 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
Clinton shot back:
"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."
Note that Clinton
issued this seeming denial on April 8. The New York Times reported in its
April 28 story: "President Clinton was first told of the new evidence
by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on March 31."
Wednesday night on
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume Goler noted how Clinton had
responded to his question by denying spying took place under his watch.
CNN ran two full reports on The World Today. First, Pierre Thomas
summarized the Times story. Second, David Ensor reviewed the impact of the
data transfer. But this is all CNN mustered on the role of the Clinton
administration: "And with Energy Department officials saying that Wen
Ho Lee may have been transferring the top secret data for 12 years, up
until 1995, it now looks as if the Clinton administration may have to
share some of the blame for doing too little about security at the weapons
ABC's Good Morning America allocated just 20 seconds to the New York
Times story, however World News Tonight delivered a full report, but one
that failed to include anything about the role of the Clinton
administration in impeding the investigation.
Barry Serafin led
into a soundbite from former Ambassador Lilley by reporting:
"Although it is not known whether the Chinese obtained the nuclear
technology files, a former U.S. Ambassador to China believes it is likely
that they did."
Serafin then noted how it took three years before
the FBI searched Lee's home, but Serafin failed to raise charges about
Justice Department foot-dragging: "Wen Ho Lee has been a suspect for
three years, but it is only within the past two months that federal agents
have searched his home and his computer. He was not fired until last
In fact, instead
of holding the Clinton administration accountable, Serafin allowed Energy
Secretary Bill Richardson to scapegoat lab employees: "Why did this
individual so long have a security clearance, not be disciplined, not be
dealt with in a way that he couldn't jeopardize our national security?
Lab officials dropped the ball here."
(Those who heard
Rush Limbaugh on Thursday will recall that a caller told him about this
Richardson blame-shifting, but he could not find the actual quote in
Hotline or elsewhere. Well here it is.)
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer only allocated a few seconds to the
New York Times story detailed above in item #1, but CBS did deliver an
exclusive talk with three scientists at the Livermore national lab about
lax security. Two wished to remain anonymous, so CBS altered their voices
and allowed a lampshade to block viewers from seeing their faces as they
sat on a couch.
began her April 28 report: "The scientists who spoke exclusively with
CBS News, work at Lawrence Livermore in California, one of the labs where
intelligence officials say the Chinese stole sensitive weapons data in
Scientist with voice altered: "Certainly in
the last half of the 1990 there's been a significant change in the
Attkisson: "A loosening of security?"
Scientist: "A general loosening, yes."
didn't pursue the angle of the scientist's charge that security was
loosened when Clinton entered office. In fact, she never referred to he
administration or Clinton. Instead, Attkisson moved on, explaining how the
two anonymous scientists have the highest security rating --
"Q-clearance." Attkisson detailed the lax security:
"They say in the early '90s workers
without a Q-clearance began getting access to buildings where classified
work is done and still today the only security keeping non-Q workers away
from sensitive areas is often no more than a 'keep out' sign."
Scientist with altered voice and lampshade head:
"There's a door on one facility that says 'Q only.' It's up
to the person if they're not a Q to not go in that building."
that "self patrolling became tougher a few years ago" when
badges were re-designed, making low-clearance badges look much like Q
badges. "But the biggest threat may lie in the ability of hundreds of
Q clearance workers to simply carry out reams of secret documents,"
Attkisson revealed before the scientists explained how scientists can
enter and exit without ever encountering a guard so they could load up a
briefcase with secret files.
Attkisson concluded: "Security and
intelligence sources at the labs and the Energy Department confirm each of
scientists accounts. One congressional investigator told CBS News the U.S.
has never figured out how China stole huge amounts of weapons data but
that these scientists' stories provide the best insight yet into how
easily lab security can be breached."
+++ Hear, and sort
of see, the scientists disclose the bad security with their voices altered
and a lampshade blocking their faces. By about noon ET Friday the MRC's
Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post in RealPlayer format, on the MRC
home page, a chunk of this CBS story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
Today accommodated Clinton's topic preferences but the show doesn't do
the same for others.
Today devoted the entire 7am half-hour after the news update to Katie
Couric's interview of President Clinton taped on Thursday afternoon. She
stuck to what can be done to prevent school violence, failing to ask
anything about China. NBC probably landed the exclusive by agreeing to
stick to the one subject. But Today usually isn't so willing to hand
over editorial control to a guest.
In the April 30
Washington Post TV reporter Lisa de Moraes noted that Calista Flockhart,
star of Fox's Ally McBeal, canceled her scheduled Monday Today show
interview when NBC refused her request to not ask if she's anorexic.
"'We said this is not something we'd agree to do and they said,
'Then she won't do the show,' a Today spokeswoman said."
Is considering the role of religious belief catching on at the networks?
The April 27 CyberAlert detailed how ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer examined how
church and faith turned around the life of one of the Columbine victims,
observing: "Today at Cassie Bernall's funeral friends and family
celebrated the strength of one young girl's faith." To watch a clip
of Wehmeyer's story via RealPlayer, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
CBS did not devote an entire story to a victim's faith, but did
highlight the topic in a story reviewing the status of some of those who
were seriously injured. On the April 28 CBS Evening News reporter Cynthia
Bowers told viewers:
"Val Schnurr is still not up to talking even
though she's home from the hospital now. She was shot eight times. Some
of those bullets will never be removed. According to her mother, Val's
luck rested with a higher power."
Bowers to Val's mother: "I think the thing
that amazes most of us is the courage that your daughter displayed when
she was asked about her faith. Can you tell us what she's told you about
Shari Schnurr, Val's mother: "They asked
her if she believed in God and she was half scared to say yes because they
were reloading and she knew she was probably going to get it again but
knowing that she couldn't say no and deny her faith. That was a real
difficult point for her and I'm really proud of her for standing and
saying what she believes in."
The media have eagerly passed along calls for more gun control in the wake
of the Columbine High School tragedy, but as the MRC's Conservative News
Service determined, the shooters broke at least 18 current federal and
state gun control laws. To read examples of gun control advocacy by the
networks, check out the Review in the May 3 MediaWatch. "Colorado
Tragedy Exploited for Politics: Networks Identify 'Gun Culture' as the
Culprit." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw19990503rev.html
Here are some
excerpts from the illuminating April 28 story by CNS staff writer Ben
Riding the shock-waves of last week's
Colorado high school shooting, President Bill Clinton Tuesday announced a
broad legislative package to expand existing firearm regulations and
further restrict access to guns.
But will the proposed laws that the Clinton
Administration said are designed, in part, to reduce violent crime, be
able to short circuit events like those at Columbine High School?
An analysis of current gun control laws
suggests that the answer is no, and one Member of Congress said that poor
enforcement of federal gun laws is allowing too many guns into schools.
CNS has identified 18 current federal and
state gun control laws that were violated by the perpetrators of the
Colorado school rampage. Had the two teenage suspects not killed
themselves, as authorities believe happened, they would have been tried
and faced penalties that could have kept them behind bars for the rest of
Columbine students Dylan Klebold, 17, and
Eric Harris, 18, allegedly used several types of firearms to kill 12
students and one teacher before killing themselves. Among the weapons
found were two sawed-off shotguns, a HiPoint 9mm semi-automatic carbine
and an Intratec TEC-DC9 semi-automatic handgun, according to
Federal law prohibits possession of a
"sawed-off" shotgun or rifle, such as those found at the scene
of the Columbine murders. A violation carries a prison term of up to
10-years, with fines reaching $10,000.
U.S. law also forbids possession of a
firearm on school property, a violation which could mean five years in
prison.To discharge a firearm on school grounds with reckless disregard
for another's safety could result in another five-year sentence.
Under Colorado law, intentionally aiming a
gun at another person is illegal, as is displaying a gun in public with
the intent to alarm.
A number of laws also cover the use of
bombs, such as those found by investigators of the Littleton shootings.
Under federal law, simply possessing a "destructive device" such
as the bombs planted around the school carries a 10-year prison sentence
and a $10,000 fine for each offense.
Manufacturing a "destructive
device" is worth another 10 years and a $10,000 fine. The penalties
for the use of such bombs are compounded if they're part of a murder,
carrying a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty.
Colorado law also forbids possession of an
"explosive or incendiary device." Increased penalties are
imposed if it is used to commit a felony.
The acts of using a gun or bomb to further
a crime carry penalties of 10 and 30 years imprisonment, respectively. The
penalty for subsequent convictions is 25 years imprisonment for using a
firearm, and life in prison for using a bomb....
END Excerpt of CNS
To read the whole
piece, go directly to: http://www.conservativenews.org/InDepth/archive/199904/IND19990428b.html
For the latest from CNS, go to: http://www.conservativenews.org
As the CBS Evening News and CNN's The World
Today briefly noted Wednesday night, earlier in the day a 14-year-old shot
two students at a high school in Taber, Alberta, killing one. Canada has
much tougher gun control laws that does the U.S., a point neither CBS or
CNN raised. --
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