CyberAlert -- 05/29/1997 -- YES! with Marv
YES! with Marv; Skipping Huang; More Liberals Than Molinari's
1) As illustrated in the May 28 CyberAlert, the networks refused to get specific about what Paula Jones contends Bill Clinton demanded. But, as suggested to me by a CyberAlert recipient, they were willing to get graphic with Marv Albert.
One case in point: CBS. On the May 27 CBS Evening News, reporter Jim Stewart said of Paula Jones: "She has charged that, as Governor of Arkansas, Clinton invited her to a room in this Little Rock hotel in 1991 and made sexual advances..."
But the morning after Marv Albert was indicted CBS was less reticent. On the May 21 This Morning reporter Troy Roberts relayed that "the indictment handed out by a Virginia grand jury alleges the sportscaster forced the woman to perform oral sex..."
On Friday's (May 23) The World Today, MRC news analyst Clay Waters noticed, CNN anchor Leon Harris announced:
"Well there's something big out on the campaign money trail. The National Republican Party cashed one of the largest political contributions ever by a husband and wife. The founder of Amway and a longtime Republican supporter and his wife each wrote checks for $500,000. The million dollar contribution is legal because it is so-called soft money. But the donation's sheer size staggers many political observers. The head of one non-partisan group that studies campaign financing says, quote, 'It's another example of the level of greed party leaders have.'"
As opposed to the level of greed in the television news industry where CNN's Ted Turner is enticing Tom Brokaw with a $7 million per year offer.
Two days later, a headline in the May 25 Los Angeles Times declared: "Huang Helped to Raise Funds While at Agency: Law Prohibited Clinton Appointee from Soliciting Donations to DNC While at Commerce Dept." Reporters Glenn Bunting and Alan Miller disclosed:
"With the assistance of the Democratic Party, Clinton administration appointee John Huang participated in raising political donations in 1995 while serving as a government official who was prohibited by law from soliciting campaign funds, according to newly available records and interviews.
"Huang, the central figure in Justice Department and congressional investigations into campaign finance abuses, helped generate at least $52,000 from four Asian American donors in the months before he left the Commerce Department to become a full-time fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee.
"On at least three occasions, the DNC listed Huang's wife, Jane, as the 'solicitor' for large donations even though party officials recalled that she had no involvement in fund-raising. DNC officials now acknowledge that Jane Huang's name appears on the donor tracking forms because it would have been an admission of wrongdoing to credit the contributions to John Huang, a deputy assistant Commerce secretary at the time. 'They can't say it was John Huang [soliciting funds] while he was at Commerce,' said a former top DNC officer. '...What happened is that they got Huang involved [and] they had to cover it.'"
Coverage of this discovery of a possibly deliberate effort to hide illegal activity? CNN, which found the legal donation to the Republican Party noteworthy, ignored the LA Times revelation on Sunday's World Today. Same for the other networks. They too skipped it with not a word aired on Sunday's ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News.
3) Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari's decision to resign from the House of Representatives this summer to become co-host of a new CBS News Saturday morning show, is sure to raise concerns about objectivity and the revolving door, worries not highlighted when it's a liberal who flips between politics and the media. You may be seeing this apprehension expressed in your Thursday morning paper. Indeed, CNN's Crossfire devoted itself to the matter Wednesday night with Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz facing off against Tony Blankley.
"It has renewed debate over what some call the revolving door between politics and the media," observed CNN's Bernard Shaw on Wednesday's Inside Politics. Reporter Jonathan Karl noted that "The path from politics to the news media is well-traveled but unlike others pols turned media stars, like George Stephanopoulos, Jesse Jackson and Pat Buchanan, Molinari and her new boss insists she will be an objective news anchor."
She can't be any less objective than Dan Rather, who asked her during CBS coverage of the Republican convention last August: "I want to read you a quote, a party official here said that the role of the prime time speakers, that would include you, is to confuse voters about the real influence of your party's most conservative wing and the, quote, 'Christian right.' Are you part of that effort?"
For that matter, how could she be any less objective than Bryant Gumbel was on the Today show?
At a press conference Wednesday CBS announced that the show, "CBS News Saturday Morning," will debut September 13. Molinari, the AP reported, said she envisions the show as "60 Minutes meets Rosie O'Donnell," whatever that means.
Some "talking points" to cite in any discussions of the revolving door prompted by Molinari:
-- CBS hardly hired a right-winger. She's pro-choice and pro-gun control. Even the Washington Post tagged her as "moderate" and the AP suggested that "close friends say the pro-choice, moderate Republican had become increasingly frustrated with the party's conservative drift."
-- Many more liberals than conservatives revolve between media and political slots. As of the May MediaWatch, the MRC's Revolving Door count stood at 322 liberals/Democrats versus just 82 conservatives/Republicans. The latest liberal example was noted by the Washington Post's John Carmody in his Wednesday column: "Also at ABC News: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's Press Secretary, Jim Williams, is leaving Hizzoner to join the network's Midwest bureau in Chicago as a correspondent."
-- Yes, Molinari is high-profile, but how much media outrage did you hear when former Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) joined CBS News in April? I'm still waiting for the first story. Bradley was expected to produce stories, starting this summer, for the weekend editions of the CBS Evening News. But asked about who would co-host with Molinari, the AP reported that CBS News President Andrew Heyward "would not rule out former Sen. Bill Bradley."
-- A January 1995 MediaWatch study determined: "In just two years, more than twice as many members of the media have joined the Clinton administration (33) as jumped to the Bush team in four years (15). The study counted those with influence over news coverage at a national media outlet who left to take a politically appointed slot with the administrations. Those who decided to join Clinton's team held higher profile or more influential media slots than did those whom Bush attracted:
>While no on-air network TV reporter joined the Bush team, so far six have taken Clinton jobs.
>Ten network producers, executives, and researchers have made the jump to Clinton's staff, compared to just three during the Bush years.
>Another 13 major newspaper and magazine reporters hopped aboard the Clinton team while just eight put in a stint for Bush.
Here are some examples of those with Clinton ties. [Updates in brackets.]
Donald Baer: Director of White House speechwriting and research, 1994-; U.S. News & World Report Asst. Managing Editor, 1991-94; Senior Ed.,1988-91
Douglas Bennet: Assistant Secretary of State for intergovernmental orgs., 1993-; President of National Public Radio (NPR), 1983-93
Carolyn Curiel: White House speechwriter, 1993-; Nightline producer, 1992; New York Times editor, 1988-92; Washington Post editor, 1986-88
David French: Deputy Director for Communications, CIA, 1993-; CNN weekend Washington anchor and reporter, early 1980s-1993
Rick Inderfurth: Deputy to UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, 1993-; ABC News reporter, 1981-1991 (Pentagon, national security, Moscow) [Inderfurth has now been nominated Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs.]
Thomas Ross: Special Asst. to the President and Senior Director for Public Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC), 1994-; Senior Vice President, NBC News, 1986-89
Tara Sonenshine: Special Asst. to the President and Dep. Director for communications, National Security Council, 1994 Editorial Producer, ABC News Nightline, 1991-94; D.C. bureau producer, '82-89. [She since left the NSC to be a reporter in Newsweek's Washington bureau, then earlier this year she jumped back to the NSC.]
Carl Stern: Director of Public Affairs, Justice Dept, 1993-; NBC News Washington reporter, 1967-93 (legal affairs and Supreme Court) [Stern left the Justice Dept. late last year.]
Strobe Talbott: Deputy Secretary of State, 1994-; Ambassador-at-Large to the former Soviet Republics, 1993-94; Time Editor-at-Large 1989-92; Time Washington Bureau Chief 1985-89
4) Dan Rather never misses an opportunity to generate class warfare and emphasize how the wealthy will make out best. MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski caught the latest instance. On the May 23 CBS Evening News, Rather intoned:
"On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted overwhelming approval today for the big balanced budget blueprint. Supporters of the plan say it would balance the budget in five years, provide $85 billion in tax breaks mostly for families with children, cut the capital gains tax which would help immediately the wealthy, and save $321 billion out of Medicare, Defense and other spending...."
A capital gains cut wouldn't help anyone who is not rich? Really? As USA Today reporter Anne Willette asserted in a May 5 story: "The explosion in stock ownership, especially through mutual funds, has made capital gains taxes a middle class issue. Some 84 percent of taxpayers reporting capital gains income earned less than $100,000."
And some people actually worry that Molinari will bring a bias to the journalistically pure CBS News.
-- Brent Baker