Networks Ignore a 1997 Spy: Peter Lee; Jennings Derided Reagan
1) Dan Rather led Thursday
night by delighting in "what a difference a day makes" as
Republicans are "looking for a way out just 24 hours after rejecting
a modest gun control measure."
2) Another spy suspect, Peter
Lee, passed on submarine tracking secrets in 1997. The New York Times
called his case "significant" because it showed China obtained
secrets during Clinton's second term. But only FNC and Fox News Sunday
have explored his case.
3) In his book, The Century,
Peter Jennings attacked Ronald Reagan from the left: "To the problems
of homelessness, AIDS, the skyrocketing budget deficits and a frightening
arms build-up could now be added a morally suspect foreign policy."
4) MediaWatch's "On the
Bright Side" story: How NBC Nightly News actually highlighted the
benefits of gun ownership.
>>> May 17 MediaWatch now online
thanks to the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry. The Review by Tim
Graham, "Sex Lies Draw More News Than Policy Lies," documents
how "The big three ignored proof Clinton lied on China spying."
A front page piece, "Starr an Abuser, But Clinton No Harraser"
features this insult from a Time magazine reporter: "Starr has taken
on the air of an old crank screaming obscenities on a street corner."
To read these articles, plus Newsbites and the articles excerpted below in
items #3 and 4 in today's CyberAlert, go to the MRC home page or
directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw1999archive.html
CBS and NBC led Thursday night with the Republican retreat in the Senate
on gun control. Dan Rather delivered this loaded intro to a CBS Evening
What a difference a day makes. The Republican-led U.S. Senate is backing
off and looking for a way out just 24 hours after rejecting a modest gun
control measure. The potent gun lobby and its allies in Congress are
changing their strategy under wide-ranging and withering fire, especially
in the wake of reaction to the Columbine High School massacre."
It's hard to
imagine any restrictions on free speech which Rather would label
In the subsequent
piece Bob Schieffer explained how the Senate was retreating on its
Wednesday vote rejecting background checks at gun shows. He played a clip
of Clinton complaining about how the Senate had missed a chance to
"save lives" and noted that gun advocates have power because
Senators recall how they brought down Speaker Foley and Judiciary
Committee Chairman Jack Brooks in 1994.
added: "Even so a Democrat says he understands why Republicans are
having second thoughts about yesterday's vote."
Senator Robert Torricelli: "Senate
Republicans are in a classic political problem. They have this far-right
base that wants no gun control, but now they're realizing the larger
public is watching too."
Schieffer: "And one Republican all but
admitted a mistake was made."
Senator John McCain: "We obviously needed to
take additional action and we realize that."
Only thing missing
from Schieffer's story: anyone from the "gun lobby" or anyone
who thought the Senate voted correctly on Wednesday.
Wen Ho Lee isn't the only spy suspect, but you wouldn't know it from
the network newscasts which have ignored the case of Peter Lee, who
supposedly passed on information about how to track U.S. submarines, even
though his damage was outlined earlier this week by the Washington Post
and New York Times.
The New York Times
detailed how he was not properly prosecuted because of Pentagon and
Justice Department resistance. The Times called his case
"significant" because it showed officials knew China was
obtaining secrets during Clinton's second term. But only FNC and Fox
News Sunday have explored his case. In fact, FNC had the story before the
As detailed in the
May 7 CyberAlert, on the May 6 Special Report with Brit Hume FNC's Carl
Cameron exclusively reported that after an 18 month sentence for
falsifying documents Lee was to be released that coming weekend. Cameron
reported: "And now the Defense Department is taking the heat for
perhaps letting Peter Lee get off easy. An FBI source says quote, 'The
Pentagon refused the judge's request for a briefing on how serious the
violations were...they never told the judge what this guy had been
doing.' Furthermore, during 1997, sources say Peter Lee was known to be
passing additional secrets on to the Chinese -- top secret experimental
and developmental nuclear secrets along with top secret satellite
technology so the Chinese could track U.S. submarines."
Cameron's story, go to the online version of the May 7 CyberAlert or to
the MRC's video page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
Three days later
Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow raised the case with guests Senator Richard
Shelby and Congressman Porter Goss of the Senate and House intelligence
committees. Snow inquired:
"Let's talk about a man named Peter Lee.
He's been in the news a little bit in the last week. It turns out he was
under surveillance for a period of maybe as much as 17 years. At the end
of it, and he admitted to espionage, he admitted that he had talked to
Chinese scientists about nuclear weapons in the 1980s and about satellite
tracking technology in the 1990s, in 1997. For this, the Justice
Department decided to file charges for filing a false statement. He's now
out of a halfway house. Should Justice go back and charge him with
Shelby replied that the case illustrates the
"sloppily if not incompetent" way that "Justice has handled
the whole thing. I don't believe that they have taken these cases
seriously and they go to the very heart of national security."
That day the
Washington Post ran a story on Peter Lee and the next day, Monday, May 10,
the New York Times featured an extensive story on the front page, but
neither prompted any attention from the other networks.
excerpt from the illuminating May 10 New York Times report by the
Washington-based spy case duo of Jeff Gerth and James Risen:
A scientist working on a classified
Pentagon project in 1997 provided China with secrets about advanced radar
technology being developed to track submarines, according to court records
and government documents.
Submarine detection technology is jealously
guarded by the Pentagon because the Navy's ability to conceal its
submarines is a crucial military advantage.
The information about the radar technology,
which is considered promising and has been in development for two decades,
was divulged to Chinese nuclear-weapons experts during a two-hour lecture
in Beijing in May 1997 by Peter Lee, an American scientist, court records
show. Lee was then working for TRW Inc., which had been hired by the
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles wanted
to charge Lee with espionage but were unable to, in part because Navy
officials in Washington would not permit testimony about the technology in
open court, law-enforcement officials said.
The Justice Department in Washington,
having some questions of its own, would not approve the prosecution
either, the officials said.
Instead, Lee ended up pleading guilty to
filing a false statement about his 1997 trip to China and to divulging
classified laser data to Chinese scientists during an earlier trip to
China in 1985.
Despite the failure to prosecute Lee over
the radar technology, the case shows that the scope of Chinese espionage
is broader than the assertions of nuclear thefts at the Los Alamos
National Laboratory, which officials say involved another American
scientist, Wen Ho Lee.
The two men are not known to be related.
The submarine technology in the Peter Lee case was developed at Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory, a weapons lab in California.
The Peter Lee case is also significant
because it clearly demonstrates that the American government believed that
China was successfully engaged in espionage -- obtaining American defense
secrets -- during President Clinton's second term.
While the Los Alamos disclosures earlier
this year prompted an array of investigations, Clinton, two months ago,
said no one had brought suspicions of Chinese espionage to him and
administration officials initially portrayed the problem as one confined
to earlier administrations.
Today on the NBC News program "Meet
the Press," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson acknowledged that there
had been espionage by China during the Clinton administration, but he did
not go into detail.
The breach involved in the Peter Lee case
-- code-named Royal Tourist by the FBI -- occurred in 1997, a point made
in a classified November 1998 counterintelligence report ordered by and
then sent to the White House....
As noted in more
than one CyberAlert this week, no network other than FNC, not even NBC's
Today or Nightly News, has picked up this admission from Richardson even
though it provided a nice hook to raise the Peter Lee case.
To read the whole
story, which explains how Lee passed along the secrets and how he was
caught, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/051099china-nuke.html
(You'll have to
be a registered user of the online New York Times to access the article.
Becoming a registered user does not cost anything. To get a password you
just have to give them your name and e-mail address. You can also sign up
to get the front page headlines e-mailed to you each morning. That way you
can learn before getting the CyberAlert what new spy revelation the
networks will ignore.)
"Bias of the Century: ABC Book Replays Old Reagan Slurs," is the
headline over a May 17 edition of MediaWatch story by MRC news analyst
Jessica Anderson documenting how Peter Jennings attacked Ronald Reagan
from the left in his book, The Century. Referring to Iran-Contra, Jennings
declared: "To the problems of homelessness, AIDS, the skyrocketing
budget deficits and a frightening arms build-up could now be added a
morally suspect foreign policy."
Below is a reprint
in full of the MediaWatch article:
As the year 2000 approaches, the networks
are seeking to sum up the century, and their review of history is not any
fairer than their coverage the first time around.
Anchorman Peter Jennings headed up ABC's
massive undertaking, titled The Century, which began as a best-selling
book by Jennings and Todd Brewster. The book was cross-promoted with
excerpts on ABCNews.com, as well as a
12-hour network special and a 16-hour one on The History Channel.
The mammoth, 600-page volume details the
20th century, decade by decade, examining major figures and events. But
the chapter "New Morning: 1981-1989" recycles many of the
liberal criticisms degrading the Reagan years as a time of naivete:
"In fact, it would be hard to imagine
a time more devoted to historical revisionism than this decade,...in
America, in particular, feelings of nostalgia for less complicated times
ran so high it felt occasionally as if the society had been transplanted
to the grounds of an elaborate theme park where a tidied-up, even
cinematic, version of the past could be lived out in comfort."
The authors cribbed some of the worst
diatribes from 1980s newscasts and cast them as history: "Finally,
with the deepening of the chasm separating America's rich and poor, the
arrival of AIDS and a drug epidemic in the inner cities, the soaring
deficits encouraged by Ronald Reagan's ambitious defense spending"
made it "hard not to feel that the nation was just pretending to be
in better times, distracted by the fizz and bubble of its new wealth,
tolerating the worst kinds of ethical and moral abuse, pushing aside bad
news or, worse, delaying its full impact for future generations."
Toward the end of the chapter, in
discussing Iran-Contra, the authors found doom for Reagan's legacy,
insisting the scandal "had portrayed the President as either a
figurehead in a rogue government or an impotent and forgetful leader whose
lack of attention to detail had finally caught up with him and the nation.
To the problems of homelessness, AIDS, the skyrocketing budget deficit,
and a frightening arms buildup could now be added a morally suspect
foreign policy. And this, from the man who had made a return to an
old-fashioned moral ethic central to his national plan."
This story is
available online at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw19990517p4.html
The book by
Jennings is also the subject of the latest column by MRC Chairman L. Brent
Bozell. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/columns/news/col19990512.html
Now to some more positive news, the "On the Bright Side" article
from the May 17 MediaWatch. In this piece MRC News analyst Geoffrey
Dickens shows how a couple of weeks ago the NBC Nightly News delivered an
unusual look at guns, devoting most of the April 30 show to the role of
guns in society. Unusual, that is, for a network, as NBC illustrated some
benefits of gun possession.
While NBC included
a look at such issues as the medical costs of gunshot wounds, the show
earned the On the Bright Side recognition for highlighting how guns also
save lives, protect people from injury and can be handled responsibly by
children if taught properly by parents. Here's a reprint of the
MediaWatch piece in full:
At a time when reporters were quick to
blame access to guns for the Littleton massacre, NBC actually spotlighted
positive aspects of gun ownership. NBC's April 30 Nightly News ran four
stories in which gun owners were depicted as normal, law abiding citizens
and even heroes.
Pete Williams looked at an NRA-supported
program being used with great success. "Not long ago Richmond had one
of the nation's highest murder rates. But now under Project Exile here
in Virginia gun crimes are prosecuted under tough federal laws."
Williams noted Richmond's murder rate dropped by 30 percent. Williams
showcased the brave actions of businessman Gary Baker: "He says
he's here today because of his guns. Four years ago as he opened his
jewelry store two men with guns stormed in and started shooting. He fired
back killing both of them."
Robert Hager picked up on the self-defense
theme in exploring concealed-weapons laws. He profiled 71-year-old Ryland
Moore, who "fended off a shotgun toting robber at a Texas diner with
his concealed .22 caliber revolver," and Texas state representative
Suzanna Gratia Hupp, who "remembers how her parents were killed with
20 others in a Texas cafeteria massacre in 1991. Says she had a shot at
the gunman but wasn't carrying her pistol because back then it was
against the law."
Hager cited the rarely noticed research of
University of Chicago professor John Lott, showing "states permitting
concealed weapons murder rates declined nine percent, rape five percent,
robbery three [percent]."
Roger O'Neil visited a Milwaukee hospital
to interview an emergency room doctor about how the higher caliber bullets
of today are doing more damage to victims, but then Kelly O'Donnell
profiled a family that taught their children how to responsibly use guns.
After airing soundbites from the parents stressing gun safety, O'Donnell
concluded: "One estimate says 1.8 million kids between seven and
seventeen use guns to hunt. Like millions of families, handing down an
American tradition. A respect for weapons. A belief, this family says,
that a parent's guidance with guns can prevent what happened in
To read this
article online, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw19990517otbs.html
Final Note: MRC ad to appear in Sunday's New
York Times. A full page ad from the MRC, highlighting how the networks
have avoided the Chinese espionage and campaign contributions scandal, is
scheduled to run in Sunday's New York Times. I'll send an e-mail
message with more info later today (Friday) as soon as its placement is
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