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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday July 28, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 132) 

Gerth on Citibank Tanked; FNC Revealed Trie Leads Being Suppressed

1) In the same paragraph the New York Times applied different ideological labeling standards to a liberal and a conservative.

2) The New York Times published Jeff Gerth's exclusive about how Citibank is impeding an investigation of money transfers from China, but didn't put it on page one. The networks ignored it.

3) FNC's Carl Cameron outlined how Justice failed to pursue leads in the Chung and Huang cases and "political pressure" is now suppressing pursuit of Trie's charge that top Democrats "knew he was receiving illegal foreign contributions."

4) Instead of exploring Chinagate issues on Tuesday night ABC ran a soundbite from a Kennedy about how the U.S. wasn't a democracy until the 1960s and CBS highlighted Hillary's opposition research.

5) "The Virginia Democratic Party, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Mary Sue Terry,...1993 Democratic gubernatorial candidate," all swapped fundraising lists with Washington's PBS station.

6) MTV news host Kurt Loder compared Woodstock '99 to a "concentration camp" in blaming organizers for the rioting.

     >>> All the Chinagate revelations the networks ignored, all in one place. The MRC has created a new Web page featuring a compilation of MRC analysis of Chinagate disclosures and what many media outlets have not covered about Chinese espionage and technology transfers. The page lists links to MRC Special Reports, Media Reality Check fax reports, MediaWatch studies, op-ed pieces and columns, as well as video contrasts comparing network coverage of China versus Iran-Contra. Plus, videos of some Fox News Channel explorations of subjects the other networks wouldn't touch. Go to:  http://www.mediaresearch.org/specialreports/chinacoverage/welcome.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Up first today: A quick quiz. Below are three takes on the same paragraph. One is what actually ran as the third paragraph of a story in the "Washington Final" edition of the July 27 New York Times. The other two are made up, but only differ by one word from what really appeared. Can you identify the real one?

     a) "The investigations are led by Representative Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican, and Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat."

     b) "The investigations are led by Representative Dan Burton, a conservative Indiana Republican, and Senator Carl Levin, a liberal Michigan Democrat."

     c) "The investigations are led by Representative Dan Burton, a conservative Indiana Republican, and Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat."

     Answer: C. Options A and B would reflect equal labeling of both politicians, but New York Times editors chose to be a little biased and only found Burton worth tagging ideologically.

     The New York Times Web site version of the same story offered a shorter, yet equally labeling imbalanced, version of the same paragraph: "The investigations are led by Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., a conservative, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich."

     To learn from which story this paragraph was lifted, see item #2 below.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Tuesday's New York Times featured Jeff Gerth's piece on how Citibank is not cooperating with congressional investigations over money transfer from China, a story the Drudge Report discovered was held since last Friday. Monday night Matt Drudge reported that "the story that will appear on Tuesday is said to be a 'moderation' of Gerth's original report. The efforts of a congressional committee that is currently investigating the cash trail from China appears to have been de-emphasized in the final edit."

     It was also bumped off the front page and placed on page A6, not that the placement would have any impact on the networks picking up the story since they regularly ignore Clinton scandal developments plastered across the front page.

     Tuesday morning and night the three broadcast networks skipped Gerth's exclusive about the probes directed by a Republican and a Democrat. CNN also ignored the story on both Inside Politics and The World Today. Only FNC touched it in a Carl Cameron story which delivered other fresh information. See item #3 below for details.

     Probably reflecting last-minute editing, the version in the printed newspaper differs from what appeared on the paper's Web site as item #1 above noted. The first editing change appears in the very first clause. The printed version in the "Washington Final" editions begins: "Two congressional investigations, set off from different starting points,..."

     The Web version starts: "Two congressional investigations, launched from different starting points,..."

     With that noted, here are excerpts of Gerth's July 27 story as taken from the Web-posted version, headlined: "Under Scrutiny: Citibank's Handling of High-Profile Foreigners' Accounts."

WASHINGTON -- Two congressional investigations, launched from different starting points, are examining Citibank and the confidential world of private banking, a growing and highly lucrative service.

The investigations, led by lawmakers who rarely find common cause, are examining how Citibank -- and a handful of other institutions -- handle the private accounts of foreign officials and their relatives. The investigations are likely to result in the closest scrutiny yet by Congress of private banking.

The investigations are led by Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., a conservative, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. 

Burton is looking at allegations of Chinese involvement in the financing of the 1996 American election campaign, including $300,000 in Chinese government money for the Democratic Party that was wired from Citibank's Hong Kong branch.

Levin, aides say, wants to know how half a dozen American banks managed sensitive foreign accounts, including Citibank's work for powerful families in Asia, Africa and Central America.

Citibank, a unit of Citigroup Inc., entered the private-banking business in the 1970s, taking some business away from the highly secretive Swiss banks. Citibank is a leader in global finance, and while its private bank is relatively small, it has attracted elite clients.

But some customers have come under intense law enforcement scrutiny, and so too has the private bank.

First came Raul Salinas de Gortari, who is the brother of Mexico's former president and who is currently in jail in Mexico. Raul Salinas secreted millions in a Citibank account, money that investigators suspect came from illicit activities....

More recently there was Liu Chaoying, the daughter of China's former top military official and the reported paymaster for $300,000 in Chinese military money intended for the Democratic Party in 1996, according to testimony from a participant in the payment.

The Salinas investigation has caused Citibank to tighten its policies.

"Since the Salinas episode, the bank's policy on accepting public figures as customers has toughened," said Tom Lahiff, a vice president and lawyer for Citibank. "Public figures are not a target market," he said, adding that public figures who do become clients are reviewed annually by top executives....

Last week Burton, chairman of the House committee on government reform, complained in a letter to Citibank about "undue delays" and a "seeming lack of compliance" with a committee subpoena for records on the $300,000 wired to a Democratic fundraiser. Bank records list the sender as Ms. Liu, a Chinese military officer and aerospace executive whose father was then China's senior military official.

"We've been quite responsive to the committee in a short time frame," Lahiff said. "We sent an additional document today and by the end of the week we will have given them everything we can."

Ms. Liu's Citibank transfer came a few days after the head of Chinese military intelligence told Ms. Liu and the fund-raiser, Johnny Chung, that he would soon have Ms. Liu forward $300,000 to Chung to support President Clinton and the Democratic Party, according to Chung's testimony last May before Burton's committee. Chung pleaded guilty to campaign-related charges, and was sentenced to probation after cooperating with investigators.

In his letter last week, Burton also questioned the lack of authorized signatures for Citibank accounts held by the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank. Last year federal bank regulators had similar questions about these accounts as they tried to trace tens of millions of dollars from the central bank to an account at Citibank Private Bank that was controlled by the daughter of one of the Communist Party's old guard, government documents show. The woman is the sister-in-law of Ms. Liu and a former official at a small California bank that served the Chinese business community.

Lahiff said the incomplete documentation stemmed from banking laws, common in some countries, including China, that "prohibit our production of certain information."....

     END Excerpt

     If you are a registered user of the New York Times online edition, you can read the whole piece by going to:   http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/global/072799citibank-probe.html

     Drudge added Monday night: "Gerth left out specific details of the bank's lack of cooperation with investigators. Congressional investigators have subpoenaed bank account records of suspected money runners. Citibank has balked at providing the records, citing, among other things, a 'language barrier' problem with its Hong Kong office."

     The Drudge Report Web site includes the text of the letter Congressman Dan Burton sent last week to Thomas Lahiff Jr., Citibank VP for legal affairs, demanding immediate cooperation in providing details about the money transfer to Johnny Chung. Burton offered solutions for two the impediments Citibank claimed to have encountered:

In your conversation, you also represented that you are having difficulty acquiring answers to the Committee's inquiries due to two main obstacles: (1) the "twelve hour time differen[tial]" between New York, New York and Hong Kong which has forced you to call Hong Kong at 1:30 a.m.; and (2) the "language barrier." which has made communications difficult.

I am confident that as a Vice President of an international bank with locations spanning the globe you and your company have developed efficient and effective ways of communicating across time zones. In the event that Citibank is not as sophisticated as I have been led to believe, e-mail would seem to be an available form of communication for a multi-national corporation.

Furthermore, with regard to the "language barrier," I have a simple suggestion. Call the Citibank, N.A., Hong Kong, legal department. Mr. Griffin has spoken with individuals there. As I'm sure you are aware, they are fluent speakers of the English language. Whatever method you choose, it is evident to me that a number of employees in the Hong Kong office -- from teller to counsel -- should be able to determine the existence of the account in question.

     END Excerpt of letter.

     To read the entire letter go to: http://www.drudgereport.com


cameron0728.jpg (11283 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The Justice Department knew back in 1997 about the $300,000 transfer to Johnny Chung, but "did not thoroughly investigate it," FNC's Carl Cameron revealed Tuesday night.

     In addition, Cameron charged that deputies to Janet Reno frustrated a probe of the Buddhist temple fundraising and disclosed that some prosecutors are now "fighting to continue their investigation of [Charlie] Trie's assertion that senior White House and Democratic Party officials knew he was receiving illegal foreign contributions" from entities "with ties to both the Chinese government and Asian organized crime." But, a source told Cameron, there is "incredible political pressure to wrap up Trie's case" and "close down" the entire campaign fundraising investigation.

     Cameron's story led the July 27 Special Report with Brit Hume at 6pm ET/9pm PT and a briefer version ran on the 7pm ET Fox Report.

     Cameron set up his disturbing revelations: "The three most significant suspects in the four-year-old China fundraising scandal, John Huang, Charlie Trie and Johnny Chung are all expected to have plea bargained to minor fundraising abuses and been sentenced to probation within the next three weeks. The Justice Department once labeled the China money investigation its largest and most important case -- over a hundred agents and prosecutors. Buy Attorney General Janet Reno's team blew it, according to a recent Inspector General's report which concluded that leads were not followed and feet were dragged. Now some investigators, and members of Congress, fear the case is being allowed to peter out."

     Cameron reviewed each of the three cases, starting with Johnny Chung who is on probation after agreeing to cooperate and testifying to a House committee that in 1996 he "funneled money from the head of China's military intelligence to the Democratic National Committee."

     Advancing the story, Cameron intoned: "But documents obtained by Fox News indicate that Justice had Chung's bank records as evidence of that back in November of 1997 and did not thoroughly investigate it. Chung received more than $2 million in Chinese currency, the equivalent of about $300,000 U.S. dollars, in a Citibank wire transfer from Liu Chao Ying, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Chinese military. Justice never even tried to trace the money, or it could have discovered that the cash came from China's top military spy."

     Next, Cameron moved to John Huang who faces charges on August 2 for illegal donations to a local campaign in California. Cameron reviewed his history:
     "Huang also admits funneling illegal Chinese contributions to the Democratic National Committee, but there are no charges for that. Huang was also involved in the infamous Buddhist Temple fundraiser attended by Vice President Al Gore, at which foreign contributions were laundered through Buddhist nuns and monks. Fox News has learned that shortly after the 1996 event a federal prosecutor in the California U.S. Attorney's office wanted to investigate, but Attorney General Janet Reno's lieutenants halted the subpoenas. Three years later no one has been or is expected to be charged."

     Finally, Cameron got to Charlie Trie and how Justice may be ignoring his leads: "Trie's sentencing for fraud is scheduled for August 12, but sources say that may be delayed because some prosecutors are fighting to continue their investigation of Trie's assertion that senior White House and Democratic Party officials knew he was receiving illegal foreign contributions from, among others, a Macao businessman with ties to both the Chinese government and Asian organized crime. And a senior prosecutor in the Justice Department's campaign finance task force says as of now no decision has been made to postpone Trie's sentencing or to investigate any of his additional allegations. In fact, the source says, there is incredible political pressure to wrap up Trie's case, sentence him quickly and shortly thereafter close down the entire investigation."

     Dan Burton, Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, appeared later on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor to discuss Reno's decisions and the Citibank situation. Previewing his show on the Fox Report, O'Reilly opined: "I think all Americans should take a deep breath and say we got an Attorney General here who's not enforcing the law and that's wrong."

     +++ Watch Cameron's story. By 10am ET Wednesday MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will have Cameron's piece up on the MRC home page in RealPlayer format. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Instead of doing some original reporting like Cameron or simply reciting Jeff Gerth's New York Times story what were the networks doing Tuesday night? ABC ran a soundbite from a Kennedy about how the U.S. wasn't a democracy until the 1960s and CBS happily highlighted an opposition research find passed along by Hillary operatives about how in 1964 Rudy Giuliani rejected the carpetbagger issue used against Robert Kennedy.

     On July 27, CBS, CNN and NBC all led with the heat wave and the drought. ABC went first with the FDA's approval of a new anti-flu drug to be sold under the name Relenza.

     After stories on mistakes made by bounty hunters and China's crackdown on the Falun Gong sect, Peter Jennings closed World News Tonight with a tribute to federal Judge Frank Johnson of Alabama who died last week. The Eisenhower-appointed judge decided many of the most important civil rights cases in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, Jennings explained, including the Rosa Parks bus case and forcing localities to allow the Selma to Montgomery march. In the piece Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed: "Johnson came in and finally completed the American Revolution and made this country a democracy for the first time in history."

     Like CNN and FNC, the CBS Evening News ran a story on Rudy Giuliani's trip to Arkansas to, as anchor John Roberts put it, "attack her carpetbag and fill his money bag." On the carpetbagger issue Diana Olick relayed the Hillary Clinton camp's counter-punch from the October 9, 1964 edition of something called Manhattan Quadrangle: "Her supporters provided us with a column from 1964. The author, then Democrat Rudy Giuliani, defended Robert F. Kennedy's New York Senate aspirations. 'The carpetbagger issue...is a truly ridiculous reason for not voting for a man in the year 1964.'"

     The broadcast networks haven't touched Chinagate this month, but Monday night CNN did update viewers on how Wen Ho Lee will probably face a lesser charge than espionage. As MRC analyst Paul Smith noted, on the July 26 The World Today Pierre Thomas reported:
     "If Lee is charged, it won't likely be for espionage but probably for gross negligence in handling classified information. According to law enforcement sources, that lesser charge is likely because Justice officials do not yet have direct evidence of Lee passing classified material to anyone. And there's no evidence of any payoffs. Given those facts, Lee's supporters are pointing to dozens of similar cases involving government secrets. Among the cases sited, former CIA director John Deutch, accused of improperly storing classified information at his home. Staffers for Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh lost a secret document during that investigation."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Washington's WETA-TV, a major provider of programming to the PBS system, has conceded its list exchanges for fundraising tilted heavily toward liberal lists.

     In a front page story in the July 27 Fairfax Journal, a Virginia suburban daily, reporter Stephen Henn wrote:
     "The Virginia Democratic Party, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Mary Sue Terry, former Virginia Attorney General and 1993 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, swapped fundraising lists with the region's largest public television broadcaster, Arlington-based WETA, a station official conceded yesterday.
     "WETA, which carries Sesame Street, Nova and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer among other programs on channel 26, began swapping its contributors list with partisan groups more than a decade ago and sold donor lists to a third-party broker working for Mikulski's Senate campaign as recently as last year...."

     Later, Henn added that WETA spokeswoman Mary "Stewart said most of the partisan groups that traded with WETA were Democratic, but she noted several Republican organizations also swapped with the station."

     "Republican organizations," meaning not the Republican National Committee but some unnamed groups.

     While there's nothing illegal about what WETA did, their list preferences demonstrate how they realize Democrats and liberals are their base of support.

     For background on the controversy over PBS stations exchanging or renting lists with political groups, go to the July 16 and 21 CyberAlert issues: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990716.html#3 http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990721.html#6

     For the testimony of the MRC's Tim Graham before a House committee last week, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/press/news/pr19990720a.html


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Woodstock as deadly as a concentration camp? Yes, according to MTV newsman Kurt Loder who blamed organizers for the destructive rioting which took place at Woodstock '99 on Sunday night.

     MRC analyst Mark Drake came across Loder's thinking in Tuesday's USA Today in which Ann Oldenburg relayed:
     "He blamed the 'remote' and 'ugly' setup at Griffiss Air Base in Rome NY. 'It was like a concentration camp. To get in, you get frisked to make sure you're not bringing in any water or food that would prevent you from buying from their outrageously priced booths. You wallow around in garbage and human waste. There was a palpable mood of anger.'"

     The people who should really be angry are those who lost relatives murdered in Nazi concentration camps who now hear that equated with what people had to endure for a weekend at a rock concert they voluntarily attended. -- Brent Baker


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