> 1) The
broadcast networks have aired virtually nothing during the past week --
since Janet Reno's decision not to name an independent counsel and
McDougall's sentencing -- on any Clinton scandal. But disclosures keep
coming in the print press. The April 17 CyberAlert detailed two
revelations the networks skipped:
-- The Washington
Post discovered 70 meetings by Hubbell with Clinton officials between the
time he resigned and when he plead guilty.
-- USA Today
uncovered how Labor Secretary nominee Alexis Herman allowed a former
business associate to profit from special access to the White House for
Since then, four
more stories have broken:
-- Thursday's New
York Times and USA Today ran two more stories on controversy surrounding
Herman's influence peddling while she served as Director of Public Liaison
for the White House. The April 17 New York Times story explored Herman's
dealings with a business associate who gave the Democrats a large
contribution at the same time a client, a Singapore businessman seeking
approval for a satellite project, met the President. USA Today raised
questions about how Herman had answered previous inquiries about her
involvement in getting Congo to sign a consulting deal with a firm with
close ties to Herman.
Aide Unaware of Hubbell Contacts," declared a front page story in
Friday's Los Angles Times. Reporter David Willman learned that
"Former White House Counsel Abner Mikva said that his understanding
in 1994 was that President Clinton and his top aides were avoiding any
contact with Webster Hubbell." In fact, they had quite a bit of
-- On Monday,
April 21, Willman was back with another story which contradicted previous
White House statements. The LA Times story began:
eight month period when former top Justice Department official Webster
Hubbell had promised to cooperate with the Whitewater counsel's
investigation of President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the
Clinton's closest confidant and lawyer on the White House staff was in
repeated contact with Hubbell...
previously unspecified contacts between Hubbell and Deputy White House
Counsel Bruce Lindsey occurred between Hubbell's guilty plea to charges of
bilking clients and partners of his former law firm and the beginning of
his 16-month prison term. The new information about Hubbell's contacts
with Lindsey is certain to raise new questions regarding whether the White
House was trying to encourage Hubbell, who had been a law partner of
Hillary Clinton in Arkansas, to remain silent about the Clintons' role in
the Whitewater controversy."
Well, it's not
raising questions on the networks, not even CNN which didn't find time on
Monday's Inside Politics to mention the revelation. (Last Friday, ABC's
World News Tonight did air a piece by Jackie Judd on the three areas
Kenneth Starr is probing on the Hubbell front: his work with Hillary
Clinton on Castle Grande; how billing records stored in Hubbell basement
disappeared and then appeared in the White House living quarters; and
whether the Lippo payments were hush money.)
2) Back on the
Friday, April 11 Washington Week in Review, moderator Ken Bode noted that
Janet Reno had delayed to Monday her announcement about naming an
independent counsel and "the White House was scheduled to release a
bunch of information today about trips on Air Force One and trips to Camp
David may be related to campaign finance reform," but also decided to
wait until Monday. Bode suggested that "by dumping these over till
Monday" they "avoid us all talking about them on the weekend
Bode then noted
that "early this week a poll came out which said that Americans
really aren't very much concerned about this campaign reform problem. It
rates low among the problems as they rate them, you know?" Bode
asserted that the media are way ahead of the public: "What we've had
so far is almost all press. We have not had a hearing yet. So everything
that's come out has come out from the Los Angeles Times, The Washington
Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and good broadcast reporting
as well. Lincoln Bedroom, White House coffees, foreign money, convicted
drug dealers in the White House for social events, Chinese arms dealers in
the White House for coffees, huge corporate soft money donations,
obviously interested money, $400,000 or $500,000 and so forth, evasions of
the spending limits by passing the money through different political
committees and so forth. And we just are beginning to learn this. Why
isn't the public concerned?"
Leaving aside the
ludicrous praise for "broadcast reporting as well" which has
been proven deficient by CyberAlerts throughout this year, may I suggest
one reason for the lack of public concern is that much of the public has
never heard of some of these revelations because the most relied upon
media, the TV networks, never told them about it.
Take two items
from Bode's recitation. First, the list released on Monday, April 14 of
who flew on Air Force One. That night, CBS aired a story, ABC mentioned in
one sentence that 62 donors got a plane ride, and NBC Nightly News didn't
utter a word about it, nor did Today the next morning.
highlighted "evasions of the spending limits by passing the money
through different political committees." The April 3 USA Today
uncovered the DNC scheme to send tobacco money to state party
organizations in order to avoid limits and reporting requirements. CNN ran
a story on April 7 and The Washington Post splashed the maneuver across
page one on April 13. But none of that budged the broadcast networks. To
this day ABC, CBS and NBC viewers have yet to hear anything about it.
3) With little
going on policy-wise in Washington, the networks have aired hardly any
policy-related stories during the past few weeks. But a popular theme of
the few issue-oriented pieces: the evil impact of welfare reform. The
April 15 CyberAlert detailed a one-sided April 10 NBC story on the
"disastrous effect" of welfare reform in California. A few days
later the PBS NewsHour ran a story from the Golden State on the victims
left in the wake of new food stamp rules.
April 14 NewsHour story featured 12 soundbites from seven advocates and
recipients opposed to the new rules versus a total of five soundbites from
two supporters. Michels explained from San Francisco that under the law
passed in 1996 "about 3 and a half million recipients face cuts.
About one of every five food stamps recipients here, where there is a
large immigrant population, will likely be pared from the roles. Most
legal immigrants who are not citizens will be cut off entirely. And
able-bodied single adults will have to work, or lose their food
clips from a food stamp recipient upset by the new rules and one pleased
by them as well as from a local social services director with a complaint
followed by Eloise Anderson, the pro-reform California Social Services
Then the slant
Michels: "Of the nearly 50,000 individuals who get food stamps in San
Francisco, about 5,000 are considered single, able-bodied, and therefore
capable of working for their stamps. Their income determines how many --
up to $120 a month. Shirley Cook gets half of that."
"The food stamps a big help to me. It's a lot of big help to me, and
it's going to be a lot of big problem if they mess these food stamps up. A
lot of people is going to be hurting."
"Because she has no refrigerator at home Cook shops fairly often with
her stamps. She's a recovering addict who has some job experience doing
laundry and styling hair. But because of various problems and her fight to
get back her children, she says her prospects for work are limited."
try to get out there, but I, it's hard to get a job right now."
"Why is it hard for you to get a job?"
referring to getting a GED: "Because my angle is my GD -- I have to
have a high school diploma, a GD -- and it's real hard for other people to
judge people about getting a job. They have to be in they shoes to walk in
they shoes, and they'll see how it is."
looked at the workfare option, but found a problem:
"Other counties say they can't expand workfare without additional
funds. That's a problem, according to California food policy
of California Food Policy Advocates provided a soundbite on how there
aren't enough workfare slots.
up: "For many of these people in line for a free meal job or workfare
prospects are dim. Although some are considered able-bodied for food
stamps purposes, many can't function....Charlene Tschirhart helps run the
free dining hall that currently serves 2200 meals a day. While there has
been a slight drop in the number of food stamps recipients because of an
improving economy, you wouldn't know it at St. Anthony's, where the
numbers keep increasing. Tschirhart fears the food stamps cutbacks will
make things even worse."
Tschirhart: "There's going to be longer lines. There's going to be
less at the end of those lines. Already our services maxed out in the
'80s. They even became much more pressed in the '90s. And now this is like
unthinkable that there would be more cuts. And there's no way that
non-profits are going to make that up."
Michels moved on
to a clip of a Second Harvest official explaining how food banks can't
handle the needs. He then returned to the conservative Anderson: "How
it should be done, according to Social Service Director Anderson, is that
more food stamps recipients should work, including drug abusers and
Anderson's soundbite, Michels countered: "Finding a job won't restore
food stamps for more than a million legal immigrants who are not yet
Just once it
would be nice to see a story on welfare reform from the point of view of
those paying for all the benefits.