Thursday, May 14, 1998 - Vol. Two, No. 20 - Media Inquiries: Keith Appell (703) 683-5004
Like Other Cabinet Probes, Networks Mostly Ignore Charges Against Labor Secretary Alexis Herman
Queen of Schmooze or Queen of Bribes?
Janet Reno's decision to request an independent counsel for Labor Secretary Alexis
Herman attracted the same TV news buzz as other Cabinet probes: almost nothing. The May 11
decision drew a lead story from ABC's World News Tonight (where investigative ace
Brian Ross first broke the story in January.) As with Ross's scoop in January, the other
networks were unimpressed: CBS gave it 26 seconds and NBC kept it to 18 seconds.
Laurent Yene charged that when Herman was
a White House employee, she accepted cash from him in exchange for helping his clients
with government business. With the exception of Ross, the other coverage questioned the
cost of independent counsels.
Thirty minutes before the story broke, CNN's Inside Politics was already
piling on doubts. Anchor Judy Woodruff began: "At a time when many Americans are
uneasy about the work of independent counsels, and the Clinton administration is downright
fed up, another counsel appointment may be in the offing." Woodruff's second story
was a report on how much the counsels have cost. [See box.]
On ABC's Good Morning America the next day, host Kevin Newman asked legal
analyst Jeffrey Toobin: "I can hear people out there saying 'What? Another one?' I
mean Brian Ross reported it's already cost something like $63, $73 million for the
previous six. How much is this going to cost?" (This is not the way TV covers the
National Endowment for the Arts, whose $100 million budget is pitched as "38 cents a
year" for each American.)
In addition to the allegations the counsel will investigate, Herman's record of ethical
lapses has opened several avenues of investigation the networks ignored:
The opening of the new Ronald Reagan Building in Washington had a Herman angle, since
she made more than $500,000 on the project. (Consult Byron York's March 1997 American
Spectator "Alexis Nexus" expose at www.spectator.org/archives/97-03_york.html).
As White House liaison, Herman helped set up several White House fundraising coffees,
including a session with bankers featuring the President and the Treasury Secretary. This
revelation was briefly covered by CBS, CNN, and PBS, perhaps because Republicans held up
confirmation hearings for a couple of months.
Ron Brown friend Nolanda Hill charged Herman was also involved in Brown's trade
missions, which carried a high number of major DNC donors.
On February 9, 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported Clinton aide Harold Ickes
steered would-be contributors to "a supposedly nonpartisan voter registration group
that in reality has close ties to the Democratic Party." Herman helped arrange a
White House reception which honored the group, "Vote Now '96," for turning out
minorities. It's illegal for federal workers to raise campaign funds.
The April 16, 1997 USA Today reported Herman opened the White House doors for
her friend Vanessa Weaver, who "brought along clients or others she was trying to
sign up, or she arranged through Herman for them to participate in prestigious White House
Many of these stories came before Herman (dubbed "the Queen of Schmooze" by
NBC's Gwen Ifill) was confirmed as Labor Secretary on April 30, 1997. So where were the
network ethics watchdogs? -- Tim Graham
CORRECTION: Last week, Stuart Taylor's American Lawyer Iraqgate expose was
wrongly dated. The correct date is November 1994.
L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent Baker, Tim Graham, Editors;
Eric Darbe, Geoffrey
Dickens, Gene Eliasen, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters, Media Analysts; Kristina Sewell, Research
Associate. For the latest liberal media bias, read the
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