CyberAlert -- 08/20/1997 -- Chung's Charge; Teamsters Won; Diversity Would Have Pulled the Plunger

Chung's Charge; Teamsters Won; Diversity Would Have Pulled the Plunger

  1. Tom Brokaw interviewed Johnny Chung and uncovered news about buying access at Energy, but will other outlets pursue the story?
  2. The Teamsters were the victors, declared all the networks.
  3. Bad cops didn't lead to the NYC police beating. No, ABC News pinned the blame on the lack of "diversity" in the police force.
  4. As one former U.S. News & World Report staffer leaves the White House another is about to slide into a top slot at Commerce.

1) Tuesday night NBC Nightly News carried its first fundraising story this month, the first one since July 30, the day before the last day of hearings. The August 19 Nightly News featured Tom Brokaw's "exclusive" interview with Johnny Chung.

Illustrated by photos of Chung with various top level officials, including both Clintons, Brokaw explained Chung's rise to fame: How he gave lots of money to the Democrats and was rewarded with having doors opened for Chinese businessmen he brought to America who, dutifully impressed with Chung's connections, in turn invested in Chung's businesses. Brokaw noted that Chung made 50 visits to the White House.

Brokaw's interview offered two newsworthy revelations:

First, repeating what he told the July 27 Los Angeles Times, Chung said that he gave a $50,000 check to Maggie Williams while in the First Lady's office. After noting the illegality of soliciting funds on federal property, Brokaw queried: "Did Mrs. Clinton know about this arrangement?" Chung replied affirmatively: "I asked Miss Ryan did Mrs. Clinton know about the contribution of $50,000. She said she definitely know." Ryan is Even Ryan, an aide to Hillary Clinton. The $50,000 check got Chung and his Chinese business associates into the taping of a Clinton radio address.

Second, that when he approached the Energy Department about setting up a meeting with Secretary Hazel O'Leary for five Chinese petrol-chemical officials, an Energy official suggested Chung make a donation to O'Leary's favorite charity, AfriCares. Chung did give $25,000 and got his meeting. The White House dismissed Chung's other charges about the $50,000 check, but from Martha's Vineyard reporter David Bloom observed that "the allegations against Hazel O'Leary and the Department of Energy caught everyone by surprise..."

So, will either or both of these revelations generate additional news coverage? "Chung: O'Leary Gave Access to Donor" announced an AP headline Tuesday night. But, don't count on widespread coverage. After the July 27 Los Angles Times story about how Chung said money exchanged hands at the White House, was solicited by Maggie Williams and was given explicitly in order to provide access for some Chinese businessmen, of the broadcast networks, only the NBC Nightly News offered a full story. ABC and CBS gave it a couple of sentences. The next morning neither NBC's Today or This Morning on CBS uttered a word about it. (For details, see the July 29 CyberAlert.)

Later Tuesday night Dateline NBC ran a longer version of Brokaw's interview and story. Brokaw added that Asians are worried about stereotyping and that Chung denied that he ever donated money laundered from the Chinese regime. Brokaw ended by observing that Chung promises to listen to his wife next time. She is, Brokaw said Chung claimed, a conservative Republican.

2) All the networks Tuesday night hailed the Teamsters as the victor in its battle with UPS, ABC and CBS two offered stories on the "re-birth" of the labor movement, but the networks differed on the seriousness of the layoff threat.

Teamster Victory. On ABC's World News Tonight, Bill Redeker declared: "By almost every measure the tentative settlement appears to be a victory for the union..."

On the CBS Evening News Ray Brady gushed: "The Teamsters were the winners in all this and it's a major victory..."

Tom Brokaw, on the NBC Nightly News, asserted: "As NBC's Claire Shipman tells us from the White House tonight, this does look like a big gain for big labor."

I suspect that over the next few days we'll learn that the Teamster victory isn't quite as overwhelming as reported by the networks.

Layoffs Coming? ABC's Redeker assumed any layoffs would be temporary, as if winning back lost business will not be a problem: "For UPS there is now the question of whether it can win back customers who hired other carriers during the strike. For the union, there is concern about temporary layoffs created by the lost business..."

NBC Claire Shipman portrayed layoffs as just a possibility and one that will hit management and workers equally: "But both sides may still have to pay a price in layoffs. UPS has predicted it might have to cut up to 15,000 workers..."

CBS painted a more definitive picture of layoffs as a sure thing. Anchor Russ Mitchell explained: "The Teamsters tentatively agreed to end their strike after the company gave in on the key issues of pensions and part time jobs. At the same time, UPS is warning that loss of business during the two-week walkout could force thousands of layoffs."

Reporter Diana Olick in Dallas, referring to UPS management, relayed: "Lost business, they say, will mean lost jobs and a fair number of Teamsters celebrating now may have nothing to go back to later."

3) A little "diversity" will solve any problem and a lack of it causes whatever problem is at issue. While watching a story on the New York City beating case, MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen caught the latest example of this kind of thinking.

On ABC's World News Tonight on Sunday, August 17, reporter Alexander Johnson identified the core problem:

"But in a city where the population is 61 percent minority and the police force is 68 percent white, the problem may be more difficult to solve than simply going after bad cops. The community which surrounds the 70th precinct, the sight of the alleged police attack against Louima, is a mix of Pakistani, Asian, Hispanic, Orthodox Jews and Caribbean Blacks. The police force is 76 percent white."

After a soundbite from a complaining citizen, Johnson continued: "Last year, more than three-quarters of the brutality complaints against the New York Police Department came from minority groups." Johnson told viewers that "Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo says what fuels racism and police brutality is a lack of diversity on the force."

Johnson concluded his story: "The hope is that if the police department better resembles the city it represents, there'll be greater sensitivity. And the gains they've made this year in reducing police brutality may continue. Alexander Johnson, ABC News, New York."

For liberals the system is always at fault, not individuals who do bad things.

4) Just as one former U.S. News & World Report staffer is leaving the Clinton team another is about to come aboard.

The White House held a going away party on August 11 for Communications Director Donald Baer, an Assistant Managing Editor at U.S. News when he jumped to the White House in 1994. In the July 21 Washington Post Al Kamen described Baer's next venture. Baer will join "with publisher Steven Brill, founder of CourtTV and American Lawyer magazine, in a new media venture company that is going to check out a variety of opportunities in print, television and the Internet. They're looking to launch a national magazine covering the national media sometime next year."

Sounds like some competition. But don't expect any criticism of Bill Clinton. To read Baer's adulatory view of the President ("the moral leader of the Universe"), go to the MRC Web site and retrieve the September 19, 1996 CyberAlert.

Robert Shapiro, Associate Editor of U.S. News from 1985 until he signed onto the Dukakis campaign in 1988, may be about to join the Clinton Administration. The August 19 Washington Post reported that "Clinton plans to nominate Shapiro to be Undersecretary for economic affairs" at the Commerce Department. Shapiro founded the Progressive Policy Institute, a group affiliated with what Post reporter John Harris described as the "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council. Harris ran down his background:

"Shapiro has long been well known in Washington politics and journalism. During the 1980s he served as deputy national issues director to Democrat Michael Dukakis's 1988 campaign, as a U.S. News & World Report writer and as a legislative director for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)."

What were the "centrist" policies he helped Dukakis craft?

-- Brent Baker