MRC Alert: TV
Bored with Scandal; Gumbel Gets Big Bucks
scandals have largely fallen off network news. NBC hasn't aired any
stories the last two nights. And big developments go unreported.
Gumbel to get $7 million and a prime time hour, but an ABC reporter
insists blacks have no power at the networks.
Dukakis appointed conservative judges? Yes, according to a scene in a new
After a fierce battle by ABC, CBS and NBC to get the services of
Bryant Gumbel, on Thursday CBS announced a deal. USA Today reported
that "he gets a weekly news magazine, a series of prime-time
interview specials and something that could someday make him even more
money: owning and developing syndicated programming with CBS's
syndication arm, Eyemark."
- 1) The
last CyberAlert detailed how Monday night's evening shows all ran
pieces on the White House and FBI disagreement over how and who was
warned about Chinese attempts to influence the election. Tuesday night
brought coverage of the Senate's decision to expand the hearings to
include "improper" as well as illegal fundraising. But by
Wednesday, the Clinton fundraising scandals had largely dropped from
the network scene so viewers didn't learn about some significant
- First a review
of what was covered and then a list of what the three broadcast
- Tuesday, March
- -- ABC's World
News Tonight: Full story on the Senate expanding the scope; brief item
on Clinton asking TV stations to provide free ad time.
- -- NBC Nightly
News: Jim Miklaszewski reported on Clinton's proposal to ban soft
money, noting how Clinton spent $70 million in soft money on TV ads.
Tom Brokaw then mentioned the Senate expansion before Andrea Mitchell
provided a story on CIA nominee Anthony Lake's confirmation hearings
where he was hit by questions on Chinese attempts at influence.
- -- CBS Evening
News: After a full story on the Senate expansion, CBS offered two
stories not covered by ABC or NBC. Rita Braver did a piece on the
release of a memo from aide Marsha Scott advocating the political use
of the White House database. "This is the President's idea,"
Scott wrote. Braver's story also reviewed the changing White House
story on the FBI Asian warning, leading to this tough conclusion from
Braver: "These two episodes suggest new credibility problems for
the White House."
- Next, Gerry
Bowen examined the controversy over the Long Beach Naval Station ship
yard being leased to Chinese company "with a checkered
past." The China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) is owned by the
communist Chinese government. Bowen observed that the company has been
"implicated, but never charged, in a scheme to smuggle 2,000
illegal Chinese weapons into California last year." Bowen also
noted that a COSCO business adviser sat in on a Clinton radio address
just days after Johnny Chung gave the $50,000 check to Maggie
- -- ABC WNT:
One story by John Cochran on Anthony Lake's hearing. Cochran offered a
brief overview of he COSCO situation in Long Beach.
- -- CBS EN:
Brief item read by Dan Rather on how California Senators Boxer and
Feinstein asked the NSC to review the national security implications
of the Long Beach deal.
- -- NBC NN: No
- -- ABC WNT:
Brief item by Peter Jennings on House and Senate Judiciary committees
making a formal request to the Justice Dept. for an independent
- -- CBS EN: A
full story from Bill Whitaker on a public hearing in Long Beach on the
ship yard lease. Whitaker asked:
turning over a major American port facility to a major foreign power
expose the U.S. to espionage, smuggling and other security risks.
That's something the administration only now is considering."
- Secretary of
Defense Bill Cohen: "Obviously if there are any national security
implications involved in this we will review it."
"But what took so long? Critics wonder whether the White House
fast-tracked the port deal in return for big campaign contributions
from Asians here and abroad...."
- -- NBC NN: No
- So, what have
- -- Neither ABC
or CBS evening shows have mentioned the Washington Post story that NBC
reported Monday night on the Cheyenne-Arapaho Indian claim that they
were shaken down for a $107,000 donation to he DNC for a policy
(return of their lands) that was never implemented. They also
complained about pressure to hire highly paid, Democratic Party
connected consultants. The DNC's March 11 offer to return the donation
failed to prompt any coverage.
- -- NBC Nightly
News viewers have yet to hear a word about the COSCO/Long Beach
controversy on which CBS has done two stories.
- -- Neither the
ABC or NBC evening shows have uttered a word about how a memo from
Marsha Scott, the woman in charge of the White House database,
directly linked the President to its political use. Both the
Washington Times and Los Angeles Times played this on their front
- The following
are developments none of the three broadcast evening shows have
reported this week:
- -- On March 11
the White House admitted that Clinton knew in 1994 that the Lippo
Group had hired Webster Hubbell. This contradicts Clinton's statement
at a February press conference that he was not aware of anyone hiring
Hubbell after he left the Justice Department.
- -- A March 12
USA Today story began: "President Clinton spent more than $1
million on coffees for campaign donors and other entertainment at the
White House last year -- a tab three times what George Bush spent on
such events in his last year in office."
- -- "No
More Contributor Events at White House -- for Now," declared the
front page headline in the March 13 Washington Post. But the networks
ignored the news of how the White House has canceled four planned
- -- That Post
story included news that the Washington Times devoted a whole piece to
relaying: the DNC is unable to return any of the $1.5 million in
illegal gifts it promised last month to send back because it is deep
Washington Post reported that the prime time news show will be live in
order to showcase his interviewing skills. In addition, a statement
from CBS said the deal includes a commitment from CBS "to create
additional opportunities for minorities to gain access to and movement
within the television industry through Gumbel's new production
How much will
Gumbel be getting? Depends who you read, but it's at least about
double the $2.5 he pulled in at Today. The Washington Post put his new
salary at "as much as $5 million annually." USA Today pegged
it at "more than $5 million a year." And the New York Post
headline declared: "Gumbel Inks $7M-a-Year Deal with CBS."
The New York Post's Josef Adalian observed that his CBS deal
"puts him on a par with ABC News star Diane Sawyer, who also
pulls down a reported $7 million a year."
CompuServe for AP's story on Gumbel, I came across a short piece on a
speech delivered in Alabama by ABC News anchor Carole Simpson. The
March 12 AP dispatch, the day before Gumbel's $7 million deal which
included the commitment to creating slots for minorities, began:
anchorwoman Carole Simpson says gains made by minorities in network
news don't extend past 'window dressing' jobs. 'If you turn on the TV,
all over the country, the networks may have a black weatherman, a
black sports guy, an Asian anchorwoman,' she said at Auburn
University. 'In top management, where the real power is, those jobs
are still being denied us.'
Yes, but for
the past two months a bunch of white guys have been battling over who
can offer more millions of dollars to a black man in order to give him
a prime time showcase. But even if Simpson is able to overcome racial
discrimination, she's ready for her next obstacle. AP quoted her:
"I'm in my 50s now, and I'm prepared to fight age discrimination
should that come up."
If only the
networks discriminated against liberal bias, then we'd be rid of both
Gumbel and Simpson.
has temporarily replaced Tuesday night's 10pm ET show, NYPD Blue, with
a new drama, The Practice, which follows a low-budget criminal defense
law firm. The show is set in Boston. On the March 11 episode two
female associates argue a search and seizure case before a judge.
After smelling marijuana on a car's driver, a police officer searched
the trunk and found a stash of cocaine. The two defense lawyers
contended the cocaine evidence should be thrown out.
lawyer asks the other: "So, what do you think? What do we know
about this judge?" The other lawyer replies, with no hint of
irony or sarcasm: "Well, Dukakis appointed him. He's a strict
There you have
it. In Hollywood Michael Dukakis defines the conservative end of the
reminder of a news segment that may be of interest: Sunday night 60
Minutes will air Ed Bradley's interview/profile of Paula Jones.