CyberAlert -- 03/05/1997 -- More on Fat Than Funds
night NBC covers two big fundraising developments, but the other networks
fail to follow up.
1) After being the laggard network on the Clinton fundraising scandal front, in the past couple of days NBC has broken or been the only network to cover stories that the other networks both failed to initially report or follow-up on.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News (March 3), Jim Miklaszewski filed a full story on how the "FBI and congressional investigators want to know if the Democrats broke the law last year by laundering campaign contributions." After describing how John Huang had lunch with Rawlein Soberano, head of a Virginia-based Asian American business group, Miklaszewski relayed that in an interview with Washington DC's WRC-TV, "Soberano said Huang asked him to funnel $300,000 through his association, which would then keep $45,000 for their efforts."
sure viewers understood the implication: "It's called money
laundering, and it's illegal."
(But to put NBC's
story in perspective, the allegation first appeared in a front page
February 20 Washington Post story. At the time, none of the networks
reported the revelation. In NBC's case, better late than never.)
Up next on the
March 3 Nightly News, NBC broke the news that newly released documents
contradicted Hillary Clinton's claims that she had nothing to do with the
White House database. Tom Brokaw explained:
"The computer database the White House uses to keep track of political supporters. When we first learned about it Hillary Clinton denied that she was behind it or that it was ever used for political purposes. Well, NBC's Lisa Myers says new evidence is calling those claims into question."
Lisa Myers began
her story: "Despite the First Lady's claim that she knew little,
documents obtained by NBC News tell a different story -- that Hillary
Clinton was repeatedly briefed on the system and its political value.
Congressional investigators say this June 1994 memo shows the White House
database was to be technologically compatible with both the Democratic
party and the Clinton campaign so that information could be made available
for political purposes and that Mrs. Clinton signed off on it. 'This
sounds promising, please advice,' she wrote..."
Hillary/database story made the front pages of the March 4 Washington
Times and Los Angles Times. The story ran inside Tuesday's Washington Post
and New York Times. But that widespread play didn't exactly generate a
tremendous amount of network coverage. Not even on NBC: While Tuesday's
Today covered Gore's situation, neither Soberano or the database were
CNN's The World
Today didn't tell viewers anything about the database news either Monday
or Tuesday night. ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday morning aired a
story on it and the roundtable of Bill Kristol, George Stephanopoulos and
Cokie Roberts discussed its implications, MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen
observed. But by Tuesday night ABC had forgotten all about it. See the
On ABC's World News Tonight on Tuesday (March 4) anchor Peter Jennings
devoted 26 seconds to how a House subcommittee had issued subpoenas for
documents from John Huang involving his China contacts. A couple of
minutes later, however, Jennings spent more time, 29 seconds, summarizing
a nutritional survey which ranked cities by the average weight of
residents. New Orleans, we learned, has the highest percentage of
overweight adults, Denver the lowest.
The CBS Evening
News aired a piece on more calls for a special prosecutor, but CBS, CNN
and ABC didn't utter a word about the database Tuesday night. Nor did they
have anything about two other stories highlighted on Tuesday's NBC Nightly
Miklaszewski explained that independent counsel Kenneth Starr has
subpoenaed the White House for documents about Asian/Lippo Group
connections and China. Miklaszewski told Brokaw:
was hired by the Lippo Group for anywhere between $150,000 to $250,000 and
it's suspected by investigators in Ken Starr's office that that was hush
money. And that's what Ken Starr apparently wants to find out and put the
squeeze on Web Hubbell."
reporter Pete Williams looked at how House hearings are exploring the
possible misuse of the Citizenship USA program the INS instituted to clear
a backlog of citizenship applications. Tuesday's Washington Post ran a
front page story headlined: "INS Accused of Giving In To Politics:
White House Pressure Tied to Citizen Push." But only NBC picked up
the story. Williams explained:
disclosed documents show some in the Clinton White House tried to pressure
immigration officials to speed it up, hoping to get more immigrants
naturalized by election day, apparently on the assumption that such a push
could create new Democratic voters..."
that the White House wanted to send a letter from Clinton to all new
citizens, Williams observed that "The citizenship program has come
under fire for moving too fast, overlooking the criminal past of some
Indeed, both the
February 25 Los Angles Times and New York Times carried front page stories
on the criminal angle. As detailed in the February 27 CyberAlert, the LA
Times revealed: "Admitting a breakdown of citizenship procedures, the
Justice Department conceded Monday that 180,000 immigrants were
naturalized during the last two years without undergoing the full criminal
background checks required by law....House Republicans immediately labeled
the review as 'alarming' confirmation of allegations that the Clinton
administration improperly expedited citizenship applications in a
politically motivated effort to bolster Democratic ranks..."
ABC, CBS, NBC
evening shows as well as CNN's The World Today: No coverage then. And
we're still waiting for ABC, CBS and CNN.
To put ABC's lack
of coverage of stories highlighted by NBC in some perspective, remember
that NBC (and CBS for that matter) have yet to tell their viewers about
news that ABC put on the February 27 World News Tonight: 1) the "quid
pro quo between participation" in a fundraiser "and the
administration's future position on bankruptcy law issues." 2) How
Pauline Kanchanalak is being investigated for obstruction of justice for
Tom Brokaw's liberal economic and class structure views came through in a
Monday night interview with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. On the
March 3 InterNight on MSNBC, Brokaw pressed Giuliani about how the
congressional leadership doesn't care about cities. Giuliani pointed out
that the two programs -- welfare and immigration reform -- that were
mandated, he believes without adequate funding, were passed by a
Republican Congress and signed by Democratic President.
"But isn't that going to only exacerbate the feeling, especially in
the cities in this country, that there is a growing schism between the
haves and the have nots because we're going to mandate welfare reform.
We're going to mandate a lot immigration reform but there's going to be no
money that comes in behind it."
Giuliani's plan to allow some students to escape public schools, Brokaw
argued: "You have a plan in which you want to send lots of inner city
youngsters to private schools next year on scholarship. Aren't those the
youngsters that would likely do well in a public school anyway and all
those that would be left are those who are going to feel a sense of
MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught this example of a journalist putting
personal politics ahead of journalistic norms. On Saturday's (March 1)
Capital Gang on CNN, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al
Hunt offered this as his Outrage of the Week:
the outcry from conservatives eight years ago when the Senate looked at
summaries of FBI reports on John Tower, the unsuccessful nominee for
Defense Secretary? Now, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby wants
to go much further, demanding CIA nominee Tony Lake's raw FBI files. As
Senators Dick Lugar and Bob Kerrey have said, this is outrageous. It's
time to end Shelby's McCarthyite witch-hunt."
Hardly the standard the Washington media apply to private information leaked to them.
-- Brent Baker