CBS & NBC Skip China Hearing; Brokaw: China a Bigger Risk Than Kosovo
1) A Senate committee heard
Wednesday from nuclear lab directors and probed delays in warrants for Wen
Ho Lee, but only ABC and FNC covered it on their evening shows. Zilch on
CBS and NBC. FNC's Carl Cameron previewed findings from another Senate
2) Tom Brokaw actually asked
President Clinton if Chinese espionage isn't "a bigger risk really
to the long term history of the United States than Kosovo?" But NBC
ignored the topic Wednesday after refusing to report two major NY Times
3) "I think we're doing
the right thing" in Kosovo declared CBS chief Les Moonves, adding:
"I totally support the President."
4) Geraldo's latest crusade:
"A major investigation by The Nation magazine concludes that Willey
is simply not a believable witness and that Ken Starr knew it."
5) MSNBC gave Al Gore an hour
to shine as host of its post-shooting town meeting. "You're a
minority of one here tonight," Tom Brokaw conceded to the only gun
advocate NBC allowed.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on
Wednesday from officials at the nuclear labs, but the CBS Evening News,
NBC Nightly News and CNN's The World Today all failed to air a word
about it or use it as a hook to catch viewers up on developments in the
NBC Nightly News,
for instance, has yet to tell its viewers about either the April 28 or May
2 New York Times disclosures. The first story told about how Los Alamos
scientist Wen Ho Lee supposedly transferred vast nuclear test data to an
open computer in 1994-95. The second, which CBS has also failed to report,
revealed how the Clinton administration was informed in November of
China's espionage efforts, thus contradicting Clinton's assertion at a
March press conference that he knew nothing of any espionage during his
Instead of China,
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather promised Wednesday night: "Still
ahead on the hard news CBS Evening News: a massive credit card scam. Have
they got your number?" Sandra Hughes subsequently looked at how the
FTC found millions of fraudulent $19.95 charges on credit cards for
Internet services. NBC avoided Chinese missiles, but Robert Hager provided
a full report on how six U.S. satellite rocket launches have failed in the
last nine months.
ABC's World News
Tonight provided a full story on the China hearing, but instead of raising
questions about Clinton administration political influence delaying the
probe, ABC's Bob Woodruff honed in on FBI bungling and bought the
Justice Department's claim that it twice turned down warrant requests
simply "because the evidence against Lee was insufficient."
Cameron covered the hearing for Special Report with Brit Hume and added
that an upcoming report from the Senate Intelligence Committee "will
conclude that China has improved its intercontinental ballistic missiles
as a result of lax U.S. export policy." Fox Report anchor Paula Zahn
condensed Cameron's report to a 25-second item she read.
Only CNN pointed
out how at another hearing a Senator asked Attorney General Janet Reno
about the Justice Department's rejection of the warrant request to
search Wen Ho Lee's computer. But this CNN coverage came in a piece by
Pierre Thomas run on Inside Politics which did not air on The World Today.
Now some details
on China coverage on the Wednesday, May 5 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Bob Woodruff explained how the FBI first contacted Lee in
1982 when he called a scientist being investigated for passing secrets to
China. Wen Ho Lee passed two polygraphs, Woodruff noted, but his bosses at
Los Alamos were never told about the incident. Then in 1996 when the FBI
learned China had obtained U.S. warhead technology, Lee emerged as
suspect. Woodruff picked up the story:
"Officials at Los Alamos testified today
that they immediately offered to search Lee's computer, but they say FBI
and Justice Department officials told them that would be unconstitutional
and the evidence would not be admissible in court."
After a soundbite from Los Alamos Director John
Browne, Woodruff continued:
"Instead, the FBI told the lab to keep Lee
in his job with fill access to classified material so they could watch
him. In 1997 FBI officials tried to get a special national security
warrant to search Lee's computer, but the Justice Department turned them
down twice because the evidence against Lee was insufficient."
Senator Don Nickles called the turn down
"gross incompetence" before Woodruff concluded: "In 1999,
this year, when the FBI finally did get access to Lee's computer, they
found evidence he had downloaded blueprints for much of the U.S. nuclear
arsenal. It had apparently been there for years while the FBI was watching
A very trusting
Woodruff failed to raise any questions about political motivations or the
influence of donations behind the Justice rejections.
-- CNN's The
World Today ignored the hearing, but Pierre Thomas provided highlights for
Inside Politics. Toward the end of his piece Thomas uniquely noted how
"at another hearing, Republicans took aim at Attorney General Janet
Reno." Thomas showed Senator Bob Smith at a Judiciary Committee
hearing inquiring: "Why did your department believe that a search
warrant was necessary for Mr. Lee, when it's a government computer, it's a
government office and it's a matter of the highest national security of
the United States government?" Reno refused to address the issue,
replying: "Nobody should be discussing these matters that are
-- FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. Carl
Cameron introduced soundbites from Senators by asserting: "Lawmakers
have now begun to call China's nuclear spying the most damaging in
American history." Pete Domenici claimed "The scope and damage
to the United States is probably the largest that's ever occurred by way
of any kind of espionage" and Don Nickles called it "possibly
...the most serious case of espionage in U.S. history," comparable to
Rosenberg, Walker and Ames.
the hearing, Cameron told Brit Hume: "The Senate Intelligence
Committee has a declassified report that could be released as soon as
tomorrow. It focuses mostly on technology transfers, legal and commercial
to the People's Republic of China. But it has a number of revelations in
it and sources familiar with it say it will conclude that China has
improved its intercontinental ballistic missiles as a result of lax U.S.
export policy and that U.S. national security was severely harmed and that
several U.S. companies did not adequately ensure that those technology
transfers were adequately watched."
Hume then wondered: "Do we know anything
more now about the potential connection to campaign contributions in
Cameron answered: "It was part of the
investigation. Two thoughts from it. They say the People's Republic of
China did try to influence U.S. politics and policy and that the U.S.
government and U.S. companies in many cases let national security take
second place to making a buck."
Fox Report viewers
heard a 25-second summary of all this by anchor Paula Zahn.
Tom Brokaw asked President Clinton, in an interview clip shown on
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, whether Chinese espionage isn't "a
bigger risk really to the long term history of the United States than
Nightly News viewers must have been baffled by Brokaw's suggestion since
the NBC show certainly hasn't acted that way. As noted in #1 above, his
show skipped the Senate hearing. Brokaw's question came three days after
a Sunday New York Times story that both NBC Nightly News and Today ignored
which revealed the Clinton team was alerted to ongoing Chinese spying last
November but waited months to take action and dishonestly denied knowledge
of such spying. See the May 3 CyberAlert for details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990503.html#2
One week before
Brokaw's question, the April 28 New York Times disclosed how Wen Ho Lee
supposedly "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." Today gave this
bombshell 15 seconds. While the CBS Evening News allocated a few seconds
to it and ABC's World News Tonight ran a full story, NBC Nightly News
For details, go to the April 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990430.html#1
Of course, Brokaw
could have asked Clinton about either of these stories, but he did not.
And like all the
broadcast networks, NBC has yet to tell its viewers about an April 4 Los
Angeles Times piece on how the head of Chinese military intelligence gave
Johnny Chung $300,000 to donate to Clinton's re-election effort. For
more on the many newspaper revelations skipped by NBC and the other
networks, check out a Special Report by the MRC's Tim Graham released
last week: http://www.mediaresearch.org/specialreports/news/sr19990426.html
Now back to
Brokaw's May 5 interview. NBC Nightly News showed Brokaw's travelogue
as he accompanied President Clinton on Air Force One to Europe. Brokaw
showed him on Air Force One, playing a comment about Russian involvement
in the Kosovo peace efforts.
After a military
briefing in Brussels Clinton flew on to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany
where on the tarmac, in front of a Stealth fighter and a Warthog, Brokaw
interviewed Clinton. NBC showed three questions and answers:
Brokaw's first question: "Did you expect
to be farther along at this point. We're now six weeks into the
raised the China issue: "Your critics say the Clinton doctrine is we
bomb the small countries -- Iraq and Kosovo -- but when the big countries
begin to give us trouble we turn the other way, China and nuclear secrets
is the most recent example of that. Isn't that a bigger risk really to
the long term history of the United States than Kosovo?"
Clinton replied: "Well first of all I think
that's apples and oranges. The Soviet Union spied on us all during the
Cold War. I don't recall President Truman or President Eisenhower or
President Kennedy or President Johnson or President Nixon ever considering
bombing Russia because of espionage. We didn't break off relationships
with Israel when Israel was involved in espionage in ways that could have
been quite damaging to us. So I think that's a foolish thing. We should
handle this espionage case the way we've handled every other espionage
case since spying began."
Comment: The U.S.
realized the Soviet Union was an enemy and deployed weapons and forces
accordingly and Israel never aimed intercontinental missiles as us.
question: "Based on what we're seeing on Capitol Hill and other
signs of it as well, 1998 your job approval rating remained very high but
there were real questions about trustworthiness and credibility and so on
-- even in the public. Has that made running this kind of operation more
complicated for you?"
Clinton indignantly shot back: "No, no. You
know the people on Capitol Hill will have to decide how they respond as
Americans to their obligations here, but it hasn't been a problem. The
American people made clear in the election in 1998 who they trusted and
for what reason and what their priorities are and they hired us all to do
their work and they want their lives and their children and their future
and their national interest put first."
"1998" thought he might have meant 1996, but maybe he was just
referring to the GOP's poor showing in 1998.)
To read the text
of the entire interview, go to http://msnbc.com/news/266130.asp
(MSNBC text does not match above because I corrected against the actual
To read Brokaw's
interview with Clinton conducted aboard Air Force One, which dealt only
with the war and only a few words of which made it onto Nightly News, go
+++ See and hear
part of Brokaw's interview with Clinton. To watch the latter two
questions and answers, go to the MRC home page where MRC Webmaster Sean
Henry will post a RealPlayer clip this morning. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
"I totally support the President" in his Kosovo war effort,
declared CBS President Les Moonves at a Monday fundraiser in New York to
raise awareness of the Red Cross's "Help Now" toll-free
USA Today Jeannie Williams relayed how "a lot of heavy hitters --
from Quincy Jones to CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves -- flocked to the
Kit Kat Klub, where performers included Hayes, Deborah Gibson and Gloria
Gaynor." Williams explained why Moonves attended and passed along his
positive assessment of Clinton's judgment:
"Moonves was to receive an award Tuesday,
and Dan Rather was to present it. 'But he's still in Belgrade. That's
more important,' Moonves said. He added, 'I think we're doing the
right thing. I totally support the President.'"
Geraldo Rivera is still doing all he can to discredit Ken Starr. Tuesday
night, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, he picked up on an article in
The Nation, a far-left weekly, which claimed Willey lied and Starr knew
On the May 4
Rivera Live on CNBC Rivera announced:
"So now Ken Starr, after failing miserably
to convict the President after failing even to convict Susan McDougal,
brings the extremely peripheral figure Julie Steele to trial in the case
that could land her in prison for 35 years. In that court they don't
want to put Kathleen Willey on trial. They don't want her credibility to
really be the issue. We do.
"Tonight we turn the tables put Kathleen
Willey's credibility exactly on trial. A major investigation by The
Nation magazine concludes that Willey is simply not a believable witness
and that Ken Starr knew it. Now among the magazine's chief findings.
Item: Willey was actually seeking a sexual relationship with the
President. Item: At least six people told Willey. Let me restate that. Six
people say that Willey told them she was thrilled by this alleged
encounter with Mr. Clinton. Item: Starr gave Willey an extremely broad
immunity agreement, even though Willey had lied to them about a previous
sexual relationship. Item: Willey also lied about making a phone call to
Steele after meeting with Newsweek. Item: Although Willey portrays herself
as a reluctant witness, she did contact two literary agencies that might
have helped her publish a book on the alleged encounter with the
conspiratorial, Rivera later demanded of Wall Street Journal editorial
writer John Fund:
"Do you not have some problems with the fact
that for example Julie Hiatt Steele was charged with this crime on the
very day the President's Senate trial began. I mean doesn't that seem
to you that Ken Starr was trying to influence the course of the
impeachment process. That all this is about gamesmanship."
expert on gamesmanship.
As a corporation General Electric cannot donate directly to a campaign,
but GE found a way to give Al Gore something more valuable: an hour of air
time on its MSNBC network.
Catching up on an
item from last week, on April 28 MSNBC ran a two-hour town meeting from
10pm to12am ET, hosted by Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley, on the Columbine
shooting. While Brokaw and Pauley hosted from a high school in New Jersey,
for the first hour Vice President Gore hosted from.....Des Moines, Iowa,
coincidentally a key state he must win to earn he Democratic presidential
While Brokaw did
press him about the entertainment industry and why he and his wife have
not done more to denounce it, Gore got plenty of time to offer empathy
with the victims and prompt audience members to call for more gun control.
Back in New
Jersey, MSNBC's panel featured former Republican Senator Alan Simpson,
Education Secretary Richard Reilly, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd
Whitman, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, Hugh Price of the Urban
League and David Thomas, the DA of Jefferson County, Colorado.
Though the panel
included two Republicans, Simpson and Whitman are on the left on the gun
issue and both called for additional regulation, Brokaw somewhat made up
for the imbalance by asking DA Thomas: "Is there any doubt in your
mind that these two youngsters, who were willful and bright, by all
accounts, and planned this for a long time, would have gotten those guns
no matter what the laws were? Is there any doubt in your mind?" a law
which would have kept them from getting those guns?"
Later, MRC analyst
Mark Drake noticed, after Larry Pratt made the provocative assertion that
more guns is the solution, an idea Simpson ridiculed, Brokaw noted:
"Mr. Pratt, you're a minority of one here tonight."
five-to-one is considered balanced at NBC. --
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