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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday October 29, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 173)

Zilch on ABC, CNN & NBC on Huang/Riady Revelations; Helms' Women Problem

1) Tom Brokaw called a one percent spending cut "sweeping" and griped that "in this booming economy companies have done little to expand health care coverage." CBS nullified good GDP news.

2) The Gore-Bradley appearance in the CNN/WMUR town meeting generated much more network evening show coverage than the GOP gathering. ABC used two Clinton-Gore aides to assess Bradley and one hit conservatives. NBC's Today again advocated Dole for VP.

3) John Huang tied Harold Ickes to illegal fundraising and asserted that James Riady told Clinton of his fundraising plans, but only FNC ran a full story. 26 seconds on CBS. Zilch on rest.

4) The CBS Evening News promoted the cause of the pro-campaign finance "reform" Council for Economic Development.

5) Ten liberal Democratic women disrupted a hearing chaired by Senator Helms, but CBS failed to identify their party and faulted his attitude. Bob Schieffer claimed the women acted "proper as could be" and asked: "Do you think he has a problem with women?"

6) Three days until Gumbel's debut. In #1 of the MRC's "Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles," Gumbel claimed House Republicans wanted "to gut the Clean Water Act" so many would be "forced to boil water."

7) Only FNC picked up on James Woolsey's blast at Clinton's China policy as "appeasement....wrong-headed and dangerous."

8) One of Letterman's "Top Ten Things the Yankees Have Always Wanted to Say" hit Hillary.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) ABC and NBC led Thursday night with a Kaiser Family Foundation study on how health care insurance costs are rising faster than inflation. ABC stressed how businesses blame the consolidation of insurance companies while NBC's Tom Brokaw bemoaned how "in this booming economy companies have done little to expand health care coverage."

     CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather began with how "the government put out a glowing report on the U.S. economy, showing strong growth with low inflation," but CBS quickly put a damper on the good news by emphasizing lagging wage growth and a poll which found 27 percent think the lottery is the best way the gain a retirement nest egg. ABC anchor Jack Ford made passing reference to the latest GDP number while NBC Nightly News skipped it.

     Here's how the three networks began Thursday night, October 28:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight opened with Jackie Judd on how the Kaiser Family Foundation found health insurance costs are up 4.8 percent from a year ago. Bob Jamieson followed up with a story on how "many employers blame a handful of insurance companies for the significant increase in health care costs."

     -- NBC Nightly News took a harder edge. Tom Brokaw declared:
     "Good evening. Health care of course is a critical need on anyone's agenda and the cost of it can be prohibitive to the average family. So a new study out tonight is very troubling for millions of Americans. It shows that in this booming economy companies have done little to expand health care coverage. In fact, many are cutting back, especially for workers who are retiring."

     Mike Jensen illustrated the point by featuring anecdotal stories about companies raising the cost of health insurance and cutting off coverage for retirees, stressing that Kaiser's study "paints a grim picture for older Americans." Lisa Myers followed up with a look at growing voter "anxiety" that is driving candidates to address the issue.

     Later in the show Brokaw briefly noted movement on the budget, but labeled as "sweeping" the GOP's passage of a piddling one percent reduction in the planned increase in Labor and HHS spending:
     "House Republicans pushed through the last big spending bill of the year. That includes a sweeping spending cut -- one percent across the board -- on social services and education programs. That would save about $4 billion. President Clinton, however, says he'll veto this latest proposal, calling the GOP cuts a gimmick."

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather trumpeted the Clinton administration's good news, but CBS's subsequent story took on a sour tone:
     "Good evening. The government put out a glowing report on the U.S. economy, showing strong growth with low inflation. The economy was growing in the third quarter at an annual rate of 4.8 percent, well over twice as fast as the second quarter. Employment costs rose a modest eight tenths of a percent, easing Wall Street's fear of inflation. The Dow soared more than 200 points today, the NASDAQ was up 72. All of this indicates how much good work has been done in building a strong economy. CBS's John Roberts reports on how much there is still to do."

     Roberts focused on how wages have grown slower than expected and then moved on to a Consumer Federation of America survey which determined half of U.S. households have less than $35,000 in savings. Roberts concluded with a sad finding about how pathetic many are, which suggests why many are so open to government taking care of them:
     "That same survey also found that 27 percent of Americans believe their best chance to accumulate the half million dollars in wealth they'll need to retire is to play the lottery. That's partly because many Americans don't know how to build wealth, but it's also an indication that even in this robust economy many people don't think they can do it themselves."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) On the New Hampshire CNN/WMUR town meetings front, the broadcast networks delivered a lot more coverage for the Democratic joint appearance by Gore and Bradley on Wednesday night than for the Thursday night Republican gathering; ABC had two former Clinton operatives assess Bradley's performance with George Stephanopoulos taking a jab at Republicans for appearing "too intolerant"; and NBC's Today again pushed for George W. Bush to pick Elizabeth Dole as his VP.

     -- Wednesday night all three broadcast network evening shows aired a story previewing the Democratic event, but Thursday night only NBC previewed the Republican one, with David Bloom focusing on the controversy over George W. Bush's absence. CNN, which devoted the entirety of Wednesday's Inside Politics to the Democratic event, dedicated half of Thursday's show to reviewing it, leaving just the other half to preview the Republicans.

     But those looking to the broadcast network evening shows to tell them what happened were disappointed as none ran a full story. Thursday's World News Tonight didn't report a thing about what happened with the Democrats Wednesday night and NBC's Lisa Myers, who insisted Bradley has the "boldest plan," ran a couple of soundbites from Gore and Bradley in a larger piece about public anxiety over health care. On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather introduced competing Bradley and Gore health care soundbites by noting: "There were few if any runs, hits or errors as a Yankee audience in New Hampshire attended the first joint appearance" of Gore and Bradley. "Gore and Bradley agreed on many other issues, including the need for campaign finance reform," Rather added approvingly.

     -- So much for any concern about conflict of interest. At the end of Wednesday's World News Tonight ABC played this promo spot over a picture of George Stephanopoulos: "Tomorrow on Good Morning America, the Gore-Bradley face-off. He helped pull the strings in the Clinton White House. Now get his spin on their showdown."

     Later Wednesday night, October 27, Nightline featured former Clinton-Gore aide Stephanopoulos analyzing the town meeting alongside former Clinton-Gore administration official David Gergen. Ever the liberal Democrat, Stephanopoulos criticized conservative Republicans over either of his party mates.

     Asked by host Chris Wallace, "George, can you see Bradley driving this whole debate and driving the Democratic Party in the year 2000 to the left?," Stephanopoulos answered:
     "Well, that's exactly what is happening on gay rights, on health care, on education. But, again, I don't think it is as much of a danger as David might suggest, because weighed against that you have a Republican proposals for big tax cuts, which will also hurt the deficits. And the Republicans have to be afraid of appearing, as they have in the past, as being too intolerant. And that's why we have Bush talking about compassionate conservatism."

     -- As detailed in the October 27 CyberAlert, on the October 26 Today Matt Lauer recommended to Pat Buchanan that Bush pick Elizabeth Dole as his VP: "How powerful a team do you think they'd be?"

     Lauer's couch mate Katie Couric chimed in with the same hope on Thursday's Today, observed MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens. Couric asked NBC News VP Tim Russert, who came aboard to assess the Bradley-Gore joint appearance:
     "Do you think we will see a Bush/Dole ticket?"
     Russert: "Interesting. Elizabeth Dole did not do anything to offend George W. Bush. And she very much, I believe, would like to be Vice President if in fact George W. chooses her. He knows he has to close the gender gap. One way of doing that, choose a woman."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Riady1029.jpg (10328 bytes) After the release Wednesday of some incriminating statements John Huang made to the FBI which implicated a former top Clinton aide now working for Hillary Clinton, on Thursday the House Government Reform Committee granted Huang immunity to testify in December. The Thursday, October 28 Washington Post ran a story on page two, which was plugged on the front page, outlining Huang's disclosures, but the ABC, CNN, MSNBC and NBC evening shows all skipped the latest in the Clinton fundraising scandal. The three morning shows also ignored the story Thursday morning.

     To refresh your memory, John Huang is the man who worked at the Commerce Department where he had access to secret trade documents, and then went to the DNC as a fundraiser for the 1996 campaign. James Riady runs the Lippo Group and with Huang donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal foreign contributions, some of which may have come from communist China.

     Thursday's CBS Evening News found two minutes to look at Marilyn Monroe property being auctioned off, but just 26 seconds for Rather to announce:
     "House Republicans today revived their investigation into former Democratic fundraiser John Huang. They voted to compel testimony from him about alleged illegal donations to the 1992 Clinton campaign by an Indonesian businessman. They also want to ask Huang about allegations that Harold Ickes, a longtime Clinton family friend and effective aide, asked Huang to carry out what the Republicans say were questionable fundraising efforts."

     Actually, it isn't just what "Republicans say were questionable fundraising tactics." So does the U.S. code. Washington Post reporters Lorraine Adams and David A. Vise wrote in their October 28 story:
     "Former White House aide Harold Ickes pressed former Commerce Department official John Huang to gather donations for the congressional campaign of Jesse Jackson Jr. in 1995, sources close to a congressional campaign finance inquiry said yesterday.
     "During more than 23 days of interrogation earlier this year, Huang told FBI agents that after being solicited by Ickes, he contributed $1,000 to Jackson's campaign and raised several thousand dollars more, according to sources close to the investigation. Last week, the Justice Department provided reports of Huang's debriefing to the House Government Reform Committee, which is expected to vote today on granting Huang immunity for testimony he might give to the panel.
     "Federal law bars government officials from requesting campaign donations from subordinates. Ickes, now a key strategist for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate race, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did his attorneys."

     On FNC's Fox Report and Special Report with Brit Hume reporter David Shuster outlined Huang's testimony and the House committee's action. Shuster detailed what Rather only alluded to, explaining that Huang told the FBI that he began his illegal fundraising after Indonesian business operative James Riady told him that during a 1992 limo ride he, Riady that is, had told Clinton he'd raise $1 million for the Clinton-Gore effort.

     Shuster then showed an under-reported event. Over video of the two men shaking hands back on September 12, Shuster explained the video: "Riady and Clinton were photographed last month in New Zealand."

     Turning to the House committee hearing to grant immunity, Shuster observed: "Even Democrats seemed startled by Huang's allegations, but they denied his testimony would generate headlines." Shuster pointed out the possible illegality without resorting to a partisan dismissal as did Rather: "There is no evidence, said lawmakers, that the Jacksons knew about Ickes' request. Still, John Huang was working at the Commerce Department at the time and any attempt to enlist him to do fundraising would have been illegal."

     After running a soundbite of Attorney General Janet Reno maintaining there was not enough evidence to justify an outside investigation of Huang and 1996 fundraising, Shuster concluded: "Republicans are convinced though that friends of the President get a free pass."

     Instead of covering these developments Thursday night, ABC's World News Tonight ran three stories about Internet marketing and online buying, NBC Nightly News devoted a whole story to an underutilized parking garage in Rutland, Vermont, and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams ran a full story on how Coca Cola plans to deploy vending machines which raise the price in hot weather as well as a panel discussion, featuring the discredited Mike Barnicle, reviewing the baseball season.

     +++ See Riady and Clinton together in New Zealand just last month. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will place by this item, in the posted edition of this CyberAlert, a still shot of the video shown by FNC.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Catching up with the bias of ABC News, on Thursday night the CBS Evening News delivered a one-sided story by Eric Engberg looking favorably on the efforts of a business group to eliminate "soft money." Back on the October 14 World News Tonight, the October 15 CyberAlert outlined, ABC's Linda Douglass paid similar tribute to the Council for Economic Development.

     Dan Rather introduced the October 28 CBS Evening News promotional piece: "When it comes to putting a lid on unlimited contributions from deep-pocket political donors, you might be surprised by some of the people who now favor closing those legal loopholes and why."

     Eric Engberg didn't bother with any pretense of balance and so didn't address concerns about free speech or how maybe it's the onerous restrictions on direct contributions, including a ban on corporate donations to candidates, that has encouraged party groups to pursue soft money from businesses.

     Engberg began: "Jerome Kohlberg, father of the leveraged buyout, became a legend on Wall Street. One thing that got him: a stream of calls from politicians seeking campaign cash. It made Kohlberg feel like a mark."
     Kohlberg agreed: "Absolutely. Shaken down and hit up."
     Engberg: "With the rise of unlimited soft money contributions, the sky became the limit....And it wasn't just the big numbers that bothered Kohlberg."
     Kohlberg: "I could see that they were having to give favors to get that money. I could see that business was expecting favors for the bigger dollars."
     Engberg: "He has started an organization pushing to reform the system and has found many business colleagues share his views."
     Kohlberg: "I think they feel dirty. I think they feel they have to get their money's worth, and they know that giving money and then asking something for it is wrong."
     Engberg: "There are similar rumblings of discontent all over the fat-cat world. A blue-ribbon businessman's policy group, the Committee for Economic Development, shocked the political community with this report calling on Congress to get rid of soft money."
     Charles Kolb, Committee for Economic Development: "There is a sense of feeling intimidated, you know, or that there will be some reprisal, or that something won't get done if I don't give. And that is not the way it should be."
     Engberg, just like Douglass, zeroed in on the same Senator: "As an example of that intimidation, Kolb points to the Republican's chief fundraiser in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. He sent CEOs who endorsed the reform report this angry protest urging -- in a handwritten P.S. -- that they should 'resign' from the committee. Kohlberg says pressure like that sours corporate America on the giving game."
     Kohlberg: "Businesspeople are maybe finally beginning to realize that a system that is as broken as this really is bad for business."
     Engberg concluded: "One reason why: Many business leaders are convinced the present system is deeply unpopular with the public and fear they're being blamed for this as much as the politicians."

     A very nice in-kind contribution to the McCain, Gore and Bradley campaigns. But just the sort of media advocacy none of the "reform" bills would touch.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Ten liberal Democratic women members of the U.S. House of Representatives disrupted a China-related hearing on Wednesday being held by Senator Jesse Helms. They held up signs demanding he schedule a hearing on the 1979 United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

     The CBS Evening News fell for the publicity stunt. Bob Schieffer failed to identify the women as Democrats as he incredibly portrayed Helms as the bad guy, maintaining the women acted "proper as could be" and later asked one: "Do you think he has a problem with women?" FNC's David Shuster noted that the women were all Democrats and weren't so proper as they initially refused to disperse.

     ABC, CNN and NBC all skipped the stunt Wednesday night, though NBC's Today caught up on Thursday morning and featured a piece in which only Helms earned an ideological tag. As noticed by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, on the October 28 Today Joe Johns began a story: "Conservative Republican Senator Jesse Helms ordered police to evict a group of Democratic women, members of the House, from a Senate committee hearing, after they showed up waving signs and yelling at him."

     The October 28 Washington Times listed the ten Congresswomen participating in the PR gimmick. In addition to Lynn Woolsey of California who led the group, there "were Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee of California; Nita M. Lowey of New York; Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas; Corrine Brown of Florida; Janice Schakowsky of Illinois; Patsy T. Mink of Hawaii and Delegate Donna M. Christian-Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands."

     A pretty liberal group.

     CBS turned the stunt into an example a "gender gap" symbolized by a chauvinistic Helms. Dan Rather declared in introducing the October 27 diatribe:
     "The long running partisan politics show on Capitol Hill took on a new dimension today, a gender gap male and female, House and Senate. CBS News Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has more about the Senator who declared a Congresswoman's place is in the House, and ordered a group of them removed from the Senate."
     Schieffer began: "Relations between the House and Senate are always a little frosty, but not usually this bad. Ten female members of the House of Representatives who've been trying to get Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms to support an international treaty outlawing discrimination against women, instead got thrown out of a Senate hearing for being un-ladylike."
     After showing Helms calling them "out of order," Schieffer continued: "After trying for months to get an appointment with Helms the women showed up unannounced at the hearing."
     Viewers saw Rep. Lynn Woolsey yelling at Helms before Schieffer asserted: "Helms bridled at the direct approach."
     Helms: "You know you are out of order and I would not be discourteous to you where you work. Now, you please be a lady."
     Schieffer made Helms sound like some Southern sheriff: "And with that, he called the cops."
     Helms: "You're not going to be heard. Escort them out."
     Praising the etiquette of the disrupters, Schieffer claimed: "Proper as could be the Congresswomen departed, expressing dismay as to why he wouldn't see them."
     Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson: "The only reason why we took this route is because we had no other way of seeing him."
     Schieffer to Woolsey: "Do you think he has a problem with women?"
     Woolsey: "Well, maybe women who aren't ladylike in his terms."
     Forgetting the merits of each matter, Schieffer concluded: "Whether or not it's a problem, Helms just can't seem to avoid controversies involving women lately. Before all of this, he was in a nasty fight with the President over the President's nomination of former Senator Carole Moseley Braun to be an ambassador, a fight far from settled."

     The same night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume reporter David Shuster observed how "the Congresswomen, all Democrats and led by Lynn Woolsey of California, at first didn't move." In contrast to Schieffer who said "the women showed up unannounced," Shuster reported: "The group warned Helms ahead of time they would be interrupting his hearing. Still, a spokesman for Helms suggested they were rude and said the lawmakers acted like campus protesters."


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) Quote number 1 in the MRC's "Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles," a quote countdown to Bryant Gumbel's return to morning TV on Monday as co-host of CBS's The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page in RealPlayer format. In this latest highlight from Gumbel's career as a liberal advocate, on the June 1, 1995 Today Gumbel blasted the new House Republican majority for making drinking water dirty, asking Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer Erik Olson:

     "This comes at a time when Republicans are looking to gut the Clean Water Act and also the Safe Drinking Water Act. What are our options? Are we now forced to boil water because bottled water is not an economically feasible option for a lot of people?"

     To watch this quote and the other nine quotes via RealPlayer, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/gumbel/gumbelvideos.html


cyberno7.jpg (1724 bytes) Only FNC picked up on James Woolsey's blast at Clinton's China policy. As detailed in the October 27 CyberAlert, the day before Clinton's first CIA Director, James Woolsey equated Clinton's China policy to how Britain appeased the Nazis, calling the policy "wrong-headed and dangerous."

     The Washington Times put the charge on its front page on Wednesday, but so far not a syllable about Woolsey on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC or NBC. Only FNC found his comments worth exploring. On Wednesday, October 27, Brit Hume interviewed Woolsey on his Special Report with Brit Hume show.


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) Finally, on the October 28 Late Show with David Letterman, Yankees baseball players fresh from their World Series sweep announced the "Top Ten Things the Yankees Have Always Wanted to Say." They got right to Hillary with number 10: "Take off the Yankee hat, Hillary."

     Not the political attitude we would have heard if Ted Turner's Braves had won. -- Brent Baker


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