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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday September 7, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 150)   

Jobs Up or Down?; Witnesses Suppressed; Mislabeling by NY Times

1) Did job creation slow in August or did unemployment hit a record low? Is the movie Outside Providence "heartfelt" or filled with "sappy stupidity"? Two headline contrasts.

2) Media Reality Check fax report: "The Selective Koppel Lecture Series -- ABC Has Ignored Clinton Cocaine Allegations, But Used a Different Standard with Bush and Brown."

3) Johnny Chung told FNC about how Democrats tried to suppress his testimony. The Washington Times pursued his charges and discovered fresh evidence of possible misdeeds by Democratic staffers. Chung also contradicted claims made by Hillary and her chief-of-staff.

4) The New York Times described a left-wing group as "a non-profit organization in Washington that advocates federal tax and spending policies that it says would benefit the poor."

Correction: A September 2 CyberAlert item about Clinton wishing to pardon 16 Puerto Rican terrorists referred to Republican Congressman "Vito Fosella." His name is actually spelled Fossella.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Two headline contrasts I caught during my vacation: Job creation slows while unemployment hits record low and is a new movie "touching" and "heartfelt" or filled with "sappy stupidity"?

     First, from Saturday, September 4:

     -- Boston Globe: "Job Creation Slows Sharply During August"


     -- The Union Leader of Manchester, NH: "Jobless Rate Hits 29-Year Low"

     As is usually the case with contrasting headlines, both are accurate, but it shows how the spin chosen by a journalist influences how you perceive what happened. In this case, the Department of Labor reported job growth in August stood at 124,000 new jobs, down from 338,000 in July. The unemployment rate, however, fell from 4.3 to 4.2 percent.

     Second, while I normally don't analyze movie reviews, two September 1 papers presented strikingly different takes in how their reviewers felt about Outside Providence, a new film starring Alec Baldwin.

     -- Boston Globe: "'Outside Providence' is Touching, Heartfelt"


     -- USA Today: "'Providence' Drips with Sappy Stupidity"


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Ted Koppel has yet to allow Nightline to touch Juanita Broaddrick's charge, but as the September 2 CyberAlert noted, he devoted a whole show to the witness-less charge that George W. Bush used cocaine. Picking up on that contrast in news judgment, last week for the MRC's Media Reality Check fax report Tim Graham looked at how Koppel condemned Bush for hypocrisy because he supposedly advocates tough treatment for young drug offenders, but Koppel never dedicated a show to Bill Clinton's marijuana smoking, though as Governor he too jailed marijuana users.

     Here's the text of the September 3 report, "The Selective Koppel Lecture Series: ABC Has Ignored Clinton Cocaine Allegations, But Used a Different Standard with Bush and Brown."
It is also available online: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/FAX19990903.html

     First, the quote contrast highlighted in the box in the middle of the page:

Koppel's Cocaine Sympathy Gap
"So here we are in this curious twilight in which he plainly acknowledges excessive use of alcohol until he turned 40, makes no claim of privacy in the area of marital infidelity, unlike some people we know he did not cheat on his wife, but leaves the question of youthful cocaine use ambiguously addressed with this assertion: I did make mistakes years ago. That is not an explanation that Governor Bush has ever accepted from any other youthful offender." -- Ted Koppel on George W. Bush, August 24, 1999 Nightline.
"What happens when the mayor of that city and the leader of its anti-drug campaign is arrested on drug charges?...Marion Barry is a complex man, intelligent, well-educated, a dedicated and successful civil rights worker and, until yesterday, arguably one of the most powerful black politicians in America. He is not the sort of man who will quietly crawl into a corner and disappear." -- Koppel after Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for smoking crack, January 19, 1990.

     Now, the rest of the fax report:

On August 24, Ted Koppel began ABC's Nightline by noting that a vast majority of Americans didn't find it important that presidential candidate George W. Bush may have used cocaine. Koppel did not allow this to dissuade him from devoting a half-hour to unsubstantiated rumors. He editorialized:

"Why not accept his one-size-fits-all declaration that when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible? Perhaps, we might say, because he has never accepted youth and irresponsibility as legitimate excuses for illegal behavior. Both as campaigner and as Governor of Texas, George Bush has, if anything, toughened the rhetoric and tightened the rules on youthful drug offenders. Remember now, Governor Bush has denied using drugs only since he was 28. He won't talk about what happened before then." (For more, see box.)

For all of Koppel's posturing on hypocrisy over potentially law-breaking officials, note: Koppel has never devoted a Nightline to Juanita Broaddrick's allegations that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978.

Koppel never devoted a Nightline to Bill Clinton when he admitted using marijuana on March 29, 1992, despite the undoubtedly numerous Arkansas prisoners incarcerated for possession or use of marijuana.

On January 19, 1990, Koppel covered Washington Mayor Marion Barry's arrest for crack cocaine use by citing many of his supporters in the community and their feeling the prosecution was racist. (See box.)

Perhaps most importantly, on April 9, 1992, Koppel and Nightline joined ABC's investigation employing anonymous California state police to charge that while he was Governor, Jerry Brown allowed drug use in his home.

As Paul Sperry noted in Wednesday's Investor's Business Daily, state troopers charged Bill Clinton flew on cocaine dealer Dan Lasater's Lear jet. Trooper L.D. Brown said he escorted Clinton out of a Lasater party when cocaine came out. Other sources have alleged Clinton's use of cocaine. Nightline has never devoted a show to Clinton and cocaine, or even Clinton and Dan Lasater.

In his book Strange Bedfellows, Tom Rosenstiel noted Koppel didn't believe the Brown story, and grilled one of the anonymous sources until they "fell apart. The interview that followed was so bad [senior producer Chris] Isham had to beg Koppel to tape it again."

Koppel began by noting "This kind of story can be devastating to a man who is running for President of the United States." But Koppel has demonstrated a pattern of selective devastation. Clinton was left untouched. Koppel crippled Brown when he was Clinton's only remaining obstacle to the nomination in 1992. Now he has singled out Bush.

     END Reprint


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Catching up on Clinton fundraising scandal developments from mid-August ignored so far by the networks, Johnny Chung told FNC's Bill O'Reilly about how Democrats tried to suppress his testimony by encouraging him to take the fifth. The Washington Times pursued his charges and discovered evidence that the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee encouraged a witness not to testify, tried to intimidate another and misused an unsigned affidavit in an attempt to discredit a witness.

     While Chung's charge about being urged to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights garnered some print media attention, another intriguing aspect of what he told O'Reilly went unnoticed. Chung adamantly maintained that in contradiction of what Hillary Clinton and her chief-of-staff, Maggie Williams, claimed, he was solicited for the donation and they knew the envelope he gave Williams inside the OEOB contained a campaign contribution.

     Monday morning MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will post a RealPLayer clip, of this part of the August 16 O'Reilly Factor interview, on the MRC home page. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org

     Now, a review of what else Chung revealed and some excerpts from three follow-up Washington Times stories. Through last week, the MRC team of analysts informed me, none of the networks other than FNC has mentioned any of this, not even CNN's Inside Politics.

     -- August 18 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC. Reporter Rita Cosby summarized O'Reilly's interview which ran in two parts on August 16 and 17. Cosby opened:
     "In an exclusive interview with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, former Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung said he was coached by Democrats on how to plead the fifth amendment prior to a 1997 appearance before the House Government Reform Committee. Chung says Democrats sent his lawyer material on how he could avoid testifying."
     Chung: "My attorneys' offices received a package. It said how you can plead -- how you can take a 5th in the United States Congress."
     O'Reilly: "Who sent you that package?"
     Chung: "Government Reform Committee Democrat side."
     Cosby picked up: "But the committee's Democratic minority counsel says Chung pleaded the 5th several times prior to ever going before the House committee, and Democrats never tried to influence any potential witnesses."

     After a soundbite from a staffer, she continued: "But Republicans believe congressional records show Democrats on the committee repeatedly tried to delay the panel's investigation. In this letter written by Congressman Henry Waxman, the committee's ranking Democrat, he tells Republican chairman Dan Burton that he has advised White House lawyer Bruce Lindsey, who was also subpoenaed to testify, to, quote, 'not be available for this deposition.'"

     Cosby concluded: "Republican committee staffers now say that they are investigating what role Democrats may have played in trying to shield the White House from allegations of campaign finance abuse. They say that Chung's comments go to the heart of this case, and they say when members of Congress come back next month after a brief recess, they expect that they will carefully review Chung's testimony and also his recent statements that he made during his interview with Fox News."

     Well Congress is about to return, so we'll see what happens.

     -- August 18 Washington Times. Under the headline "Records show Democrats' stall tactics; Dilatory strategy stymies Chung testimony," Jerry Seper offered further details on a part of the story touched upon by Cosby:

Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee sought for two years to delay and obstruct the panel's campaign-finance investigation, even telling a top White House aide to make himself unavailable for a deposition to which he had been subpoenaed, according to congressional records.

The documents, reviewed in the wake of accusations this week by former Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung that he was coached on how to plead the Fifth Amendment before a 1997 appearance before the committee, outline a suspected plan by Democrats to block the committee's ongoing probe....

[Committee minority counsel Philip] Schiliro denied GOP accusations that Democrats sought to delay or block the probe, calling them "ludicrous." He said Republicans had "unilateral authority" to investigate whatever topic or person they wanted and did so without hesitation. He said 163 persons were interviewed over 650 hours and that 2 million documents were collected during the course of the probe....

But Republicans said yesterday that committee records, including depositions of key witnesses and numerous letters written concerning the panel's inquiry, document GOP concerns that committee Democrats and their attorneys sought to delay the depositions, intimidate would-be witnesses and obstruct the investigation.

They said the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, wrote in an April 3, 1998, letter to committee Chairman Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, that he was "disappointed" the deposition of White House Deputy Counsel Bruce Lindsey -- a key figure in the campaign-finance probe -- had been scheduled during the spring recess.

Mr. Waxman told the chairman that he had advised Mr. Lindsey to "not be available for this deposition" -- a suggestion roundly criticized by Republicans as an example of what they said were delaying tactics utilized by Democrats throughout the probe.

The committee records, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times, show that:

* Democrats proposed that each prospective witness in the committee's investigation into suspected criminal activities be read a statement saying it was "your choice whether to speak with" committee investigators, that they had "every right" to decline to be interviewed, and that they might be called as a witness "to testify in a televised public hearing."

* During the deposition of one White House official, minority counsel raised objections on 49 occasions, and that during another deposition, the Democrats sought to prevent a witness from answering questions by the majority counsel despite the witnesses' willingness to do so.

* At some depositions, objections were raised directly by Mr. Waxman and Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat, both of whom challenged with some regularity the validity of questions asked by the majority counsel. During the deposition of one White House aide, Republicans said Mr. Waxman tried to prevent questions concerning former Justice Department official Webster L. Hubbell, a longtime friend of President and Mrs. Clinton.

* Democrats sought to block committee efforts to subpoena records from state Democratic Party organizations, through which suspected illegal campaign funds had been funneled. Mr. Waxman argued there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Investigators later discovered that illegal donations had been routed to the state organizations....

     END Excerpt

     -- August 19 Washington Times. "Democrat aide tried to silence Trie sister" announced the headline over the story by Jerry Seper and Audrey Hudson:

Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee, as part of a strategy to discourage witnesses with damaging information on campaign finance abuses, sought to intimidate a key witness with limited knowledge of English and U.S. customs during a 1997 deposition, congressional records show.

The newest documentary evidence comes as the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, lashed out at Republicans for what he called "a failure to conduct an effective investigation." But he made no effort in his precisely worded written statement to defend the committee's Democratic staff.

The committee's Democratic lawyers have become a focus of an inquiry by Republicans, who want to know what role they played in trying to delay, impede or obstruct the committee's campaign finance probe. Investigators are trying to determine if the panel's Democratic lawyers were responsible for the 122 would-be witnesses who claimed their Fifth Amendment privilege or fled the country.

A major focus of that inquiry is the Sept. 29, 1997, deposition of Manlin Foung, sister of former Democratic fund-raiser Charles Yah Lin Trie. The deposition, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, shows that Democratic lawyer Kenneth Ballen warned Mrs. Foung that if she cooperated in the campaign finance probe, she would be brought to Washington to face television cameras in "a large room with...over 44 congressmen sitting there."

At the time, investigators believed she had been used as an illegal conduit for donations Trie made to the Democratic Party.

Mrs. Foung eventually testified before the committee during six hours of rancorous partisan debate that she and a friend, Joseph R. Landon, had given $35,000 to the Democratic National Committee, which was reimbursed by her brother, in part, with cash from a bank in China....

     END Excerpt

     -- August 23 Washington Times. Jerry Seper and Audrey Hudson were back again with a story headlined, "Evidence builds of attempt to thwart campaign finance probe." They disclosed:

Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee used an unsigned affidavit to challenge the credibility of a witness who diverted cash from fundraiser John Huang to the Democratic National Committee.

The affidavit, among dozens of recently released documents reviewed over the past week by The Washington Times, suggests committee Democrats took part in a scheme to obstruct the panel's campaign finance probe.

The unsigned affidavit -- which has since has been disavowed --came from the father of Los Angeles businessman David Wang, who testified under a grant of immunity that Huang reimbursed him $10,000 in contributions he was asked to make to the DNC.

In the affidavit, Mr. Wang's father, James, disputed his son's sworn testimony of an August 1996 meeting with Huang in Los Angeles at which the illegal diversion of cash to the DNC was discussed. The affidavit said that contrary to his son's claims, James Wang did not attend the Aug. 16, 1996, meeting with Huang.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, the committee's ranking Democrat, used the one-page statement during a rancorous October 1997 hearing to challenge the credibility of David Wang. "Two of my staff members have recently spoken to your father, and he has denied being at any such meeting with John Huang," Mr. Waxman said in introducing the affidavit. "I don't think you have been candid from day to day, from Day One maybe. Each time, we get a different version of what happened."

The purported statement by James Wang, obtained without his attorneys present, was written by Democratic staff attorneys Kenneth Ballen and Christopher Lu, who submitted a separate affidavit to the committee recounting their conversation with James Wang. In that statement, dated Oct. 9, 1997, Mr. Ballen and Mr. Lu said James Wang was "neither present at any meeting nor aware of any conversations in which John Huang asked David Wang to make a campaign contribution."

But James Wang did not sign the affidavit. Instead, he called his attorney, Michael A. Carvin, who obtained a separate, handwritten statement in which the elder Wang said he "was present at the meeting with my son and John Huang....At that meeting, John Huang asked for a donation to the presidential campaign."....

     END Excerpt


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) For the second time in three weeks a major newspaper has failed to properly label the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as liberal and instead applied a misleading description which suppressed its ideological drive. As noted in the August 23 CyberAlert, an August 22 Washington Post story on the group's attack on welfare reform asserted: "The study was released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute."

     Three Sundays later the New York Times decided to promote more of the group's left-wing advocacy, but again refused to properly label the organization. In a September 5 story headlined "Gap Between Rich and Poor Found Substantially Wider," reporter David Cay Johnston declared:
     "The analysis was done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit organization in Washington that advocates federal tax and spending policies that it says would benefit the poor."

     I'm waiting for the day when the New York Times describes the Heritage Foundation as "a non-profit organization in Washington that advocates federal tax and spending policies that lessen their burden on the middle class." -- Brent Baker


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