Donaldson; Media Companies Love Democrats
1. Three more
revelations on the Clinton scandal front but you'd have a hard time
learning about them on TV's morning and evening shows.
2. Tim Russert
treats news of a secret White House meeting as a very big deal, but
ABC's George Stephanopoulos dismisses its importance.
owners of CNN and ABC contributed much more in soft money to Democrats
than Republicans in the 1995-96 cycle.
4. The Clinton
Administration has paid Billy Dale's legal bills, but the media have
almost universally ignored the move.
Here's an update on Clinton scandal coverage since the February 16
CyberAlert (Vol. Two; No. 17). That edition noted that only CNN had
reported the February 10 admission of White House Press Secretary Mike
McCurry that the White House coffees were designed to raise money -- a
contradiction of Clinton's earlier assurance. Through the February 17
evening shows ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to alert viewers to this
CyberAlert also recounted how only ABC's Good Morning America mentioned
the Chinese connection when it broke Thursday morning. All ran pieces that
night but only one of the three broadcast networks mentioned the
connection Friday morning. Friday night none of the broadcast networks
said a word about China and only NBC did a short item on the NSC warning
Clinton officials away from the shady donors. On Saturday night: nothing
on ABC, CBS and NBC. [Update: CNN's World Today on Friday night did run a
full story from Brooks Jackson reviewing the NSC angle.]
Now, let's check
Sunday and Monday coverage. Sunday brought three developments:
a) On Meet the Press Congressman Dan Burton, head of the House
investigation, announced that the China news forced him to expand his
investigation and he had just issued 20 additional subpoenas.
b) Liberal New York Post columnist Jack Newfield unveiled the details of a
1995 White House meeting that led to all the illegal fundraising and to
party money paying for Clinton ads.
c) The Sunday Washington Post carried a story headlined: "Signs of
Policy Shift on Status of Guam Appeared After Contributions to Democrats:
Island's Huge Fundraising Effort Followed Hillary Clinton Visit."
Post reporter John Pomfret discovered that after the First Lady visited in
September, 1996 the Governor had organized about $900,000 in donations to
the Democrats and in December a Clinton official circulated a report
supporting a bill backed by the Guam donors to allow Guam to control its
own immigration and labor laws. That would allow the immigration of
low-wage laborers for factories that qualify for the Made in the USA
-- CBS and NBC: no shows in east due to college and NBA basketball.
-- ABC's World News Sunday: Reporter Carla Davis did a story summarizing
the Guam revelation and airing ABC's first evening mention of the NSC
warnings. But Davis concluded with the liberal spin of more rules being
the solution when the current rules aren't being followed: "...There
are calls for even more investigations, but still no real movement on
legislation to reform the campaign finance system. Both parties are
reluctant to change the system which has served them so well."
-- CNN's The World Today: Claire Shipman put together a piece citing China
and the House issuing more subpoenas, but no mention of Guam.
morning: What scandal? What weekend developments?
-- ABC's GMA: Nothing about any scandal development, but at 7:30am news
reader Elizabeth Vargas reported: "The Center for Responsive Politics
says Democrats and Republicans tripled their take of soft money in the
-- NBC's Today: One story, aired only in the 7am news, from John Palmer
which talked about Guam and Burton expanding the investigation.
-- CBS This Morning: Massive coverage by comparison. First, in the 7:07am
news break a full Bill Plante story on the GOP wanting to expand
investigation and clips of White House Deputy Counsel Lanny Davis
responding to questions on Sunday's talk shows. Second, in the 8am news
anchor Jose Diaz-Balart gave a brief mention to Burton's decision to
expand to cover the China angle.
The bottom line: In the three weekday mornings since the China and
possible espionage angle broke, the three networks have each aired six
hours of shows (for a total of 18 hours) but have yet to air a single
discussion/interview segment on the developments.
Nothing about anything but Starr.
-- ABC's World News Tonight led with the news that independent counsel
Kenneth Starr will step down in August to become Dean at Pepperdine
University's law school. John Donvan observed "cautious glee" at
-- NBC Nightly News: a brief item on Starr read by Tom Brokaw.
-- CBS Evening News: No mention of Starr, but Phil Jones did a story on
the soft money report cited on GMA. Jones noted: "Kent Cooper of the
Center for Responsive Politics, sees a pattern. Big givers were those
regulated by big government."
Now there's a
story idea for CBS: If you reduce the number of laws that impact companies
then might they have less of a need to curry favor with the politicians
who impose those rules?
Jack Newfield's column in the Sunday New York Post caught the attention of
two Sunday morning shows, but viewers got a very different impression of
its seriousness depending on which one they watched. NBC's Tim Russert
took a serious tone with the White House's Lanny Davis. Russert asked
"There have been suggestions that many of these charges come from
conservatives. This morning in the New York Post, Jack Newfield, a
liberal, and a columnist wrote the following and I want to put it on the
Russert then took the unusual move of reading the following lengthy
passage about a May 1995 White House meeting as viewers saw the words in
an on-screen chyron (following quote is from Newfield's column):
"But according to this now conscience-stricken Clinton adviser 'The
President was incredibly intense about the need to raise all this money
fast and early. That's what created all the pressure on the fundraisers.
That's what caused people to start cutting corners...It finally caused
people to skirt laws and ethics. Soft money donations are unlimited and
supposed to be used only for party-building activities. But soft money was
used for Clinton commercials that talked about his concrete plans for
crime, welfare and the budget. That was unethical. Money was raised on
federal property, from the White House, from Air Force One, and this was
against the law,' my source explained.
"He continued, 'Where do you go for so much soft money? We went to
the Asian clients of Clinton's Arkansas friends. We went to dirty unions
like the Laborers International, to bankers with regulatory problems. We
went to very shady hustlers who were willing to pay $300,000 to get their
picture taken with the President so they could con people about their
White House access and influence.'"
So, a very
ominous discovery of a nefarious plan that led to all sorts of unethical
behavior. Well, not according to ABC. Among those attending the 1995
meeting: George Stephanopoulos who was part of ABC's This Week roundtable.
Sam Donaldson asked him:
"Before we finish this subject, George I gotta ask you about this
what, Jack Newfield has a story that in May 1995 there was a secret
meeting in the White House which you attended...in which according to the
story that's where the money started. In other words everyone said yes, we
have to get the money."
Stephanopoulos deflected the issue: "And boy, there was a real big
secret, that we wanted to raise a lot of money in 1996 to be
Donaldson: "What happened at that meeting, give us the low
Stephanopoulos: "I think if it's the meeting he's talking about the
President said we need to make sure have enough money to stay competitive,
to stay on the air. And yeah, I think everyone in the White House would
plead guilty to that."
The Center for Responsive Politics study cited earlier revealed that even
while the Republicans controlled the House and Senate, the big media
companies gave far more to Democrats than Republicans in the 1995-96
election cycle. The numbers include money given to the main party
committee as well as the congressional and Senate campaign committees. The
list of large donors ran in the February 17 Washington Post.
-- Walt Disney
Company (owner of ABC):
$1,063,050 (that's one million plus)
-- Time Warner
Inc. (CNN and Time magazine):
-- DreamWorks SKG
(TV and movie producers):
-- Only Rupert
Murdoch's News Corp. reversed the pattern:
The February 14 Washington Times reported that the previous day the
Treasury Department had wired a check for $410,622.19 into the account of
Billy Dale's attorney. Dale was the head of the Travel Office supposedly
fired for embezzlement but then found innocent. Last fall President
Clinton said he'd only sign the bill providing compensation to Dale if
Congress agreed to pay the legal fees of White House staff under
investigation. Congress didn't. The Times reported: "In October
Congress approved the legislation to pay Mr. Dale's legal fees, and Mr.
Clinton quietly signed it without comment."
On the February
16 Fox News Sunday, host Tony Snow noted the payment in his "Final
Thoughts." USA Today ran a one paragraph item on February 17. But
that's all the coverage I've seen.
move shows that he concedes Dale was wronged, but if no one knows about it
then the President will never have to say he's sorry.