CyberAlert -- 07/08/1997 -- Hearings Slighted

Hearings Slighted; CBS Focuses on GOP's Deadbeat Dad Donor

If you noticed the time the July 7 CyberAlert was sent and observed a half day delay in receiving it, don't blame your e-mail provider. Our listserve service was down when I first posted the CyberAlert and it took me 12 hours to realize the problem and re-post.

  1. Two of the three morning shows on Monday ignored the impending fundraising hearing and all the networks skipped two new revelations.
  2. CBS allocated an extraordinary five plus minutes to a deadbeat dad who gave foreign money to the GOP in 1992. CBS even created a new Web site to highlight their "exclusive." But CBS spiked an earlier story about money funneled from communist China.

1) Tuesday's morning shows will probably highlight the upcoming Senate hearings on fundraising, but judging from the dearth of coverage on Monday expect the networks to cover the hearings only grudgingly.

Monday morning neither ABC's Good Morning America or This Morning on CBS uttered a syllable about the impending hearings. Not a word about what committee chairman Fred Thompson and ranking minority member John Glenn said on the Sunday shows or anything about why the hearings were called. Glenn's role in the fundraising hearing wasn't news, but on This Morning news reader Jane Robelot did find time to report that he wishes to ride on a future space shuttle mission. NBC's Today ran a news story at 8am by Joe Johns previewing the hearings and a profile of Fred Thompson by reporter Lisa Myers.

Monday night, July 7, ABC continued the blackout as World News Tonight couldn't find time for the hearings the night before they were to begin, but ABC did manage to squeeze in a story on how Spanish matador's are shaving the length of the horns on the bulls.

Nightly News aired a shorter version of the Thompson profile shown earlier on Today. About twenty minutes into the show Lisa Myers reviewed Thompson's life story, from bicycle plant worker to Watergate to his movie roles. She concluded: "Sometimes gruff, often charming, Thompson is in the role of his life. Which could blow up in his face, or turn him into the Republican's leading man."

On the CBS Evening News Phil Jones previewed the hearings, noting that two of the key players, Charles Trie and John Huang, won't testify. Asserting that Senator John Glenn does not even know when each witness will appear, Jones painted the committee Democrats as victims of the majority: "Indeed, frustrated Democrats on the committee claim they have not gotten subpoenas they want to investigate GOP fundraising."
John Glenn: "If at the end of these hearings all we have done is point fingers at each other and do gotchas on each other we won't have done much to restore faith and confidence of the American people in the political process."

Neither Jones or NBC's Johns on Today, the only two stories run Monday on a broadcast network, bothered to mention the argument that far from not getting Republican cooperation, the committee Democrats have obstructed the probe. John Glenn has not followed the lead of Howard Baker during Watergate and Warren Rudman during Iran/Contra -- Republicans who aided the investigations.

So were there any new developments to report on Monday? In fact, both the Washington Post and New York Times ran stories on July 7 that all three networks didn't bother telling viewers about:

-- In a front page New York Times story, pointed out to me by MRC news analyst Clay Waters, reporter Don Van Natta Jr. relayed:
"President Clinton took a personal interest in the hiring of John Huang by the Democratic National Committee, going so far as to ask Marvin Rosen, the committee's finance chairman, in November 1995 whether Huang would be hired, congressional investigators say."

-- "Tracing Lippo Empire's Campaign Leaks" read the headline over a July 7 Washington post story which began:
"Senate investigators have discovered records that indicate a real estate holding company run by John Huang while he was working for the Jakarta-based Lippo Group apparently was used to funnel money from Indonesia into U.S. election campaigns, according to sources close to the probe into campaign fundraising activities."

2) CBS has skipped over numerous Democratic fundraising revelations, but Monday night CBS devoted an extraordinarily long five minutes and thirty-three seconds to a story supporting the "everybody does it" spin now forwarded by liberals and Democrats. Not only did CBS run the piece arguing that Republicans did the same thing but only worse in 1992, the network created a Web site especially to provide additional information about their story. The Web site placed it under the heading "The Money Trail: The Road Not Taken."

Anchor John Roberts introduced the story: "In tonight's Eye on America investigation, a look beyond the questionable campaign fundraising practices that Congress will focus on starting tomorrow. Much of what Congress will look at is limited to Campaign '96 and especially money funneled to the Democrats. Correspondent Bill Whittaker has been investigating Campaign '92, and one big giver to the Republicans."

Whittaker opened with video of a 1992 GOP fundraising dinner, explaining the CBS discovery: "The biggest donor: an American businessman whose stunning $500,000 donation got him a seat up at the head table with President Bush. He's Michael Kojima. You remember him: The biggest donor turned out to be America's biggest dead-beat dad. When his name hit the papers, a former wife was shocked: he owed her more than $100,000 in child support."

Some excerpts from Whittaker's story:
"In fact, it turned out Kojima was a bankrupt chef who owed creditors almost a million dollars. So where'd he get the half-million to buy his way to the top that night -- his current wife kissed by the President of the United States? Campaign reformers screamed for an investigation at the time. But no one did anything...
"A CBS News investigation has revealed that if anyone had bothered to look back in '92, they would have found that Kojima didn't have his own money to give, but apparently was funneling foreign donations to the GOP -- which is illegal -- donations from Japanese businessmen seeking to benefit from Republican connections. And Kojima had plenty of those...
"And CBS News has uncovered some damning new information. We talked to some of the businessmen in Japan -- who reveal that Kojima got them to pay to attend -- indicating that they are the source for at least some of Kojima's GOP donation...
"One final note: The GOP fought Michael Kojima's wives, children and other creditors in court for the $500,000 donation -- and wound up keeping about half of it. And by the way the L.A. district attorney says Michael Kojima still is a deadbeat dad. Bill Whittaker, CBS News, Los Angeles."

After the story, Roberts urged viewers to get more information from a newly created Web site:

The site has photos of Kojima's checks, a form letter he got from Senator Phil Gramm, photos of Kojima with George Bush and an interview with the woman who put together the Republican fundraiser in question. Plus, a full transcript of Whitaker's story -- with WAV audio clips and even a VDO video version. In short, more information than CBS has made available for any previous story.

Under the "context" heading the site does have transcripts of a few past campaign finance stories, but the site is built around the Whittaker piece. The direct address for the full Whittaker transcript:

(The CBS transcripts even put in all caps the words the reporter is to EMPHASIZE.)

So, is CBS consistently concerned about foreign money. As you may recall from previous CyberAlerts, CBS, as well as ABC and NBC, failed to mention this revelation in the April 1 Wall Street Journal: "Charlie Yah Lin Trie, a central figure in the controversy over foreign contributions to the Democratic Party, received a series of substantial wire transfers in 1995 and 1996 from a bank operated by the Chinese government. The transfers from the New York office of the Bank of China, usually in increments of $50,000 or $100,000, came at a time when Mr. Trie was directing large donations to the Democratic National Committee."

But a 1992 Republican donor who got money from Japan, an ally as opposed to communist China, is the biggest news the night before the Senate probe of 1996 begins. It's amazing how far at least some in the media will go to distract attention from a Clinton scandal.

-- Brent Baker