CyberAlert -- 03/07/1997 -- NBC's Liberal Reform Spin

Copy of: MRC Alert: NBC's Liberal Reform Spin; Cronkite Bashes Christian Coalition

1. MRC Chairman online today at 3pm ET.

2. ABC's skips Clinton-related charges of illegal fundraising but finds time to tag Gingrich. NBC promotes liberal campaign reform spin.

3. Among well-know White House overnight guests, a top CBS executive donated $6,000. An ABC News chief didn't see a problem "because it was never made public until now."

4. Walter Cronkite signs a harsh and mean-spirited direct mail letter bashing the Christian Coalition's "harsh right wing views."

> 1) You can "chat" with Media Research Center Chairman Brent
Bozell on Friday (March 7) from 3 to 3:30pm ET. (For those who are
time zone challenged: That's 2pm CT, 1pm MT, 12pm PT, and for
those in the Maritime Provinces, 4pm AT.)
He'll be in the Conservative Political Action Conference
(CPAC) chat room. You'll need to download I-CHAT software if you
don't already have it. To download, go to:

The general CPAC Web address:

2) Thursday scandal coverage:
-- ABC still hasn't reported two big Clinton scandal
developments this week involving illegality, but Thursday night
Peter Jennings found time to analogize Newt Gingrich's legal
fundraising to Clinton's fundraising.
-- Forwarding the liberal argument that all fundraising is a
mess which can only be corrected by more regulations, NBC uses
Gingrich as a hook for a story on the evils of "legal" Republican
-- Thursday's New York Times carried a front page story on a
Chinese link to payments to Web Hubbell, but of the broadcast
networks only CBS reports it, though sketchily.

Now the details.

Thursday's (March 6) World News Tonight offered a story by
Linda Douglass on how Attorney General Janet Reno is "digging in
her heels" on the issue of appointing an independent counsel.
Next, John Cochran looked at the agreement made in the Senate to hold
hearings on both 1996 presidential and congressional fundraising.

Two stories, but World News Tonight has yet to report how
Kenneth Starr issued subpoenas for White House documents related
to payments to Webster Hubbell. Nor has WNT told viewers about how
the First Lady's Chief of Staff accepted in the White House
Complex a $50,000 check payable to the DNC, though this was
covered Wednesday night by CBS and NBC and highlighted on the
front pages of Thursday's Washington Post and New York Times.

Just after Cochran's piece ended, Jennings announced:
"The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich,
who's called fundraising by Democrats a scandal worse than
Watergate, has been accused of similar practices today, or similar
alleged practices. Citing memos from Mr. Gingrich's political
action committee, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that in
the early 1990s Mr. Gingrich solicited donations by offering
personal access and the chance to influence policy."

"Similar"? The Atlanta newspaper story had nothing about any
illegal foreign donations or fundraising in federal buildings.

The March 6 CBS Evening News carried three brief stories.
First, Bob Schieffer reported on the Senate authorizing $4.3
million for hearings. Second, Rita Braver reviewed reaction to the
revelation that Maggie Williams accepted the $50,000 donation.
Third, Dan Rather told viewers:
"The President's old friend Web Hubbell, under the microscope
again of Republican special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. This time
it's a $400,000 question that Hubbell won't answer."
Phil Jones began: "Web Hubbell is neither confirming or
denying the published report that he received more that $400,000
from several companies and individuals with close political ties
to President and Mrs. Clinton. Investigators want to know if this
is hush money, to keep him from talking about the Clintons..."
That was all the detail Jones offered. Though more than ABC
and NBC which both skipped the story, Jones skipped over the
China-angle lead of the "published report." The New York Times
reported that Hubbell "received more than $400,000 from about a dozen
enterprises, including the organizers of a multibillion-dollar
development in China that received the endorsement of the Clinton

ABC's John Cochran concluded his story on the battle over the
scope of Senate hearings by observing:
"Although Democrats complain that Republicans are getting a
free pass, they admit there is no evidence yet that Republican
transgressions are on the same scale as the allegations against
the Clinton Administration."

That didn't dissuade NBC.

After Tom Brokaw noted Janet Reno's refusal to recommend an
independent counsel, NBC forwarded the liberal take on the whole
topic by equating unsavory appearing, but legal, fundraising with
illegal activities so the public will demand "campaign finance
reform" -- in other words, more regulation.
Brokaw introduced the story:
"And now Speaker Newt Gingrich is back in the fundraising
spotlight along with a lot of other Republican practices from the
past. Here's NBC's Gwen Ifill."
Gwen Ifill began: "While running for re-election to his House
seat, Newt Gingrich reportedly solicited $10,000 contributions. In
exchange, he met privately with the donors to discuss important
policy issues. When George Bush was in the White House, $10,000
could buy a well-heeled Republican a day of important closed door
meetings with leaders on Capitol Hill, and with the President. And
in 1976 $15,000 bought admission to an exclusive briefing in the
Roosevelt Room of the White House with President Gerald Ford..."

They must be desperate for examples -- note how she jumped from
Bush to Gerald Ford.

Ifill picked up: "The Eagles, the Inner Circle, the Senatorial
Trust, Team 100 -- all Republican Party fundraising groups with a
single goal: offer big donors something in return for their large
legal and unregulated contribution..."

Note that they are legal, but unregulated. After observing that
Republicans raised more than Democrats, Ifill reported that Harold
Ickes "used the Republican fundraising strategy as a roadmap for
cash-poor Democrats in 1994."

Not counting union money, which Ifill ignored.

Ifill aired a soundbite of a former RNC official noting that
there was "no fundraising in the White House itself." Ifill
countered: "But when Dan Quayle was Vice President a $1,000 annual
contribution to the Republican Party earned you admission to a
reception on the Vice President's lawn..."

Does a once a year chance to munch on potato chips on the VP's
lawn really match using White House bedrooms as a rewards program
virtually every night of the year?

> 3) The February 27 CyberAlert listed some Hollywood stars
and network executives who stayed overnight at the White House
with Bill Clinton. A couple of articles since then have provided
information how much some of these guests gave to the Democrats.

-- Leslie Moonves, President of CBS Entertainment, maxed out
to the Clinton-Gore campaign, Washington Post reporter Howard
Kurtz wrote on February 27. Moonves gave $1,000 to the campaign
committee and another $5,000 to the Democratic National Committee
-- Kurtz also put a date on Richard Kaplan's overnight stay.
Kaplan, now Executive Producer of special projects for ABC, was
Executive Producer of World News Tonight when he "stayed at the
White House with his wife in the summer of 1993."
So, is there anything wrong with a man in charge of a news
show accepting an invitation from Clinton, whom Kaplan calls a
longtime "friend"? Not as long as you keep it secret. Kurtz
summarized: "Kaplan said his visit did not create an appearance
problem because it was never made public until now. He said his
ties to Clinton had no impact on his work..."
Talk about image over substance. Kaplan's a perfect Clinton
friend: It doesn't matter what you do as long as no one finds out
about it.

The March 10 Newsweek listed donation amounts to Clinton-Gore
'96 and the DNC from the more famous overnight guests:
-- Barbra Streisand: $61,000
-- Ted Danson: $1,000
-- Mary Steenburgen: $1,000
-- Richard Dreyfuss: $1,500
-- Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason: $2,000
-- Kate Capshaw: $1,000

> 4) Walter Cronkite signed a fundraising direct mail letter
for The Interfaith Alliance (TIA), a group established in 1984 to
counter "religious political extremists." The letter was sent last
week, a March 5 AP dispatch noted. Associated Press reporter Kevin
Galvin explained that Cronkite "singled out the Christian
Coalition's Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed for 'wrapping their harsh
right wing views in the banner of religious faith.'"
Cronkite told Galvin by telephone: "My principal thrust here
is to try to help establish that they do not speak for what I
believe is the majority of Christians in the country."
Galvin reported that in the letter Cronkite praises TIA for
being "as diverse as America" and "standing up to the Christian
The letter urges recipients to give $50 to $500 and asks:
"Will you take a stand? Will you help TIA in saying No to religion
as a political cover? No to Pat Robertson, No to Ralph Reed, No to
Jerry Falwell?"

It's hardly news that Cronkite is a passionate liberal and
it's not the first time he's lent his name to help raise money for
a liberal cause. In 1988, for instance, he addressed a People for
the American Way banquet. As quoted in the December 5, 1988
Newsweek, Cronkite thundered:
"I know liberalism isn't dead in the country. It simply has,
temporarily we hope, lost its voice...We know that unilateral
action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that Star Wars
means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the
real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We
know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted
child...Gawd Almighty, we've got to shout these truths in which we
believe from the housetops..."

In his Interfaith Alliance polemic Cronkite insisted that
while a journalist he often had strong opinions but, "I tried not
to communicate them to my audience." Anyone who has seen his
recent Discovery Channel shows knows he didn't try hard enough.

-- Brent Baker