CyberAlert -- 09/18/1997 -- Two Nets Skip Hearing; Plante's Theory Uprooted; Kelley Call
ABC Has Anti-Paula Policy; Jennings Reverses on Mother Teresa
1) Making up for Tuesday night, when NBC Nightly News delivered just a 40-second item on the hearings while ABC and CBS provided full stories, Wednesday night NBC was the only broadcast network to air a fundraising story.
NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced just after the first ad break:
Reporter Lisa Myers began her review of the day's testimony:
Viewers then saw a soundbite of Sheila Heslin explaining how she was told Tamraz would contribute another $400,000 in exchange for a meeting with the President about his Turkish pipeline plans.
Myers pointed out that Tamraz never got his meeting, leading Maine Senator Susan Collins to label Heslin a hero. "Still," Myers concluded, "Heslin said she was troubled that someone as shady as Tamraz could use $300,000 in campaign contributions to attend six White House events and get access to the highest levels of the U.S. government."
ABC's World News Tonight and CBS Evening News. "The most compelling evidence so far" and the "most dramatic testimony so far" according to NBC, but neither ABC or CBS bothered reporting anything about it. Here's a rundown of what the two shows covered instead. (Both NBC and CBS ran updates on Trevor Rees-Jones, but not ABC, making the September 17 World News Tonight the first edition since Diana's death without a Diana-related story.)
September 17 World News Tonight
September 17 CBS Evening News
Daytime. On neither Tuesday or Wednesday did CNN or MSNBC offer any live coverage of the hearings, though CNN promised to go live when Tamraz appeared Wednesday but his testimony was delayed until today (Thursday).
Other than one brief item on one show, the Wednesday morning shows skipped the fundraising scandal. During the 7:30am news update on Good Morning America, MRC analyst Eric Darbe observed, ABC's Kevin Newman read a brief item on how Attorney General Janet Reno had replaced the leader of the Justice Department's team looking into fundraising. NBC's Today and This Morning on CBS failed to utter a word about Reno's shake-up or anything about Tuesday's testimony about how John Huang made a fundraising pitch in front of President Clinton at a White House coffee. Nor did they preview the expected Wednesday testimony from and about Roger Tamraz.
To learn if any of the morning shows mentioned fundraising on Thursday morning, check the MRC Web site Thursday afternoon for the latest Media Reality Check daily fax report. The latest issue is featured each day on our Web site: http://www.mediaresearch.org
2) CBS News White House reporter Bill Plante asserted Tuesday that the hearings don't get covered many nights because the revelations are not really revelations since they were disclosed earlier in another forum and reported. Plante appeared on Tuesday's TalkBack Live on CNN (in the same September 16 show cited in the September 17 CyberAlert). Here's the relevant exchange from the show:
Okay, let's test his contention.
All the networks Tuesday night ignored one witness who recounted how John Huang asked him to launder money through his business group in exchange for a 15 percent cut. As recounted in the September 17 Washington Post, Rawlein Soberano, VP of the Asian-American Business Round Table, "said that during a 1996 lunch with Huang, who was then at the DNC, he told Huang that his organization did not even have a budget. He said Huang responded by suggesting that 'we can give you $300,000, you can give it back later and you can keep 15 percent.'"
Old news, reported long ago. Well, yes and no. The story broke in the February 20 Washington Post. As noted in the February 21 CyberAlert, it got a story on Good Morning America and a brief anchor-read mention from Peter Jennings on World News Tonight. On March 3, as noted in the March 5 CyberAlert, NBC Nightly News delivered a full story on Soberano's claim.
But CBS? Zilch on this revelation. "Very little" of what is discussed during the Senate hearings may be new, but for CBS viewers this item still is.
3) What a difference the target makes. Kitty Kelley has been featured all this week on Today and Dateline and is now making the rounds of other shows to talk about her new book on the Royal family. It's full of unsubstantiated allegations about everything from who slept with who to who was artificially inseminated. One reporter who is not pleased with her work: Mark Phillips, now based in London for CBS News.
On the September 17 This Morning he reported:
But back in 1991 when he was in the U.S. Phillips showed a bit less hostility to Kelley's 1991 unauthorized biography of Nancy Reagan which claimed that the former First Lady had an affair with Frank Sinatra. As recalled by the MRC's Tim Graham and tracked down by Steve Kaminski, here's how Phillips concluded an April 8, 1991 CBS Evening News story:
While on Kelley, did she find anything good about the Royals? On Wednesday's Today Katie Couric asked her:
Well, there's the problem. Nancy Reagan is more out of touch with the common folk than the Queen.
-- Brent Baker