Friday, June 12, 1998 - Vol. Two, No. 24 - Media Inquiries: Keith Appell (703) 683-5004
Where Are Nightline's Investigative Resources Now That Clinton's Charged with Dangerous Exports?
Will Koppel Let Clinton Get Away With It?
Two months after The New York Times broke the first story and fourteen
weeknights after the May 15 China connection story broke in the same paper, ABC's Nightline
finally got to it -- but with a major dose of skepticism. (It could be worse: it took
Koppel 668 days from the first New York Times scoop to do his first show on
Whitewater.) Ted Koppel began June 3 by noting he was driving in to work listening to Rush
smart fellow and I enjoy the program, although sometimes Rush leaps to what may seem like
an obvious conclusion before all the facts are in. He's not alone, mind you, a significant
majority in the House of Representatives may have done the same thing. They have concluded
that the Clinton Administration could have contributed to improvements in Chinese missile
technology by letting the Commerce Department approve technological transfers that would
have been opposed by State or Defense."
Koppel added: "It has the potential of being a terrific conspiracy story. Several
members of Congress, including Speaker Gingrich, have called on President Clinton not to
go to China this month as planned until he answers to Congress. But the story may not have
the additional advantage of being true."
Koppel went to reporter Chris Bury, who began by contending: "For all the sound
and fury here in Washington, no concrete evidence has yet emerged to support the two most
damaging allegations. It is not certain any classified missile technology was transferred
to China. And no one has produced any proof that President Clinton changed policy because
of campaign contributions." But when the foreign-policy scandal was Republican,
Koppel didn't cast doubt on a "conspiracy story," even if it later turned out
not to be true.
Take "Iraqgate." On October 28, 1992, Koppel declared that 18 months of
searching had revealed a series of "legal and illegal technology transfers" to
Iraq. Koppel cited polls showing most didn't believe George Bush's Iraqgate
but it didn't change the presidential race: "So why raise it yet again? Precisely
because the President's denials have been so emphatic, while the evidence contradicting
those denials keeps mounting. We felt we should present it....one more time."
Back then, Koppel forcefully alleged the export of dual-use technology was carelessly
approved by the Commerce Department: "There was an ongoing battle between the
Commerce Department, which was promoting the sale of U.S. technology, and the Defense
Department, which was trying to prevent the transfer of defense technology that was
potentially dangerous." Ex-Pentagon official Stephen Bryen told Koppel U.S.
technology was going into Iraqi missile development.
Koppel concluded with
Sens. David Boren and Patrick Leahy charging a Bush coverup.
Koppel added: "It is easy enough given the political season to dismiss charges of a
coverup coming as they do from two Democratic Senators as purely partisan. As I told you
at the beginning of the broadcast, though, a number of serious news organizations have
been pursuing [the Italian bank] BNL and the Iraqgate story for almost two years. And in a
campaign where trust has been made into such a central theme, this story is no trivial
issue." But one of the candidates then was Bill Clinton. Where is Ted's serious news
instinct now that a familiar shoe is on the other foot? -- Tim Graham
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
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe