Three items today:
1. The death of Alger Hiss
generated sympathetic coverage that implied he was just an
innocent victim of anti-communist hysteria. Tom Brokaw said he
"was caught up in a spy scandal." CNN noted that his conviction
led to "a period of blacklisting and hysteria over the communist
week of DNC fundraising/John Huang revelations, another week of a
network blackout of the entire issue.
Week with George Stephanopoulos? The White House aide may soon be
a regular on ABC's Sunday show.
1) Reporting the death of Alger Hiss, in the
November 16 Washington Times, reporter Carelton Bryant noted that
"Hiss's supporters and detractors often have camped on opposite sides
of the political spectrum. Liberals, such as Adlai Stevenson and John
Foster Dulles, defended Hiss, saying charges against him were the product
of a communist witch hunt. Conservatives, such as William F. Buckley and
J. Edgar Hoover, castigated Hiss, saying he was one of many left-leaning
intellectuals swayed by the communists' economic rhetoric during the Great
Guess which point
of view the networks took Friday night?
On the November
15 World News Tonight Peter Jennings announced:
learned late today that a very controversial American had died. Alger
Hiss was an accomplished lawyer and a diplomat until a man named
Whittaker Chambers accused him a being a communist who passed state
secrets to the Soviets. At congressional hearings Hiss defended himself
against a young Richard Nixon. Hiss was ultimately convicted of perjury.
He lost his livelihood and his marriage. He protested his innocence
until the very end and last year we reported that the Russian President
Boris Yeltsin said that KGB files had supported Mr. Hiss's claim. He was
92 when he died today."
On CNN's Prime
News anchor Linden Soles told viewers:
Hiss, the man at the center of a Cold War spy scandal, has died at age
92. Hiss was a Harvard educated lawyer with a distinguished career in
government when he was accused in 1948 of helping pass secret documents
to the Soviets. The case attracted national attention and helped spurn a
period of blacklisting and hysteria over the communist threat. Richard
Nixon's political career got a major boost after his aggressive efforts
in Congress against Hiss. Hiss was later convicted of perjury and spent
the rest of his life trying to clear his name."
Tom Brokaw, on
NBC Nightly News, declared:
the most controversial men of the post-war years has died. Alger Hiss,
at the age of 92. He was a public servant of rising prominence in the
1930s and 1940s when suddenly he was caught up in a spy scandal and he
was accused of being a member of the Communist Party. In 1948 he was
charged with helping pass State Department secrets to the Soviets. His
case drew unprecedented attention and he was pursued tenaciously by a
freshman Congressman -- Richard Nixon. Despite the support of many
prominent Americans, Hiss was sent to prison for almost four years. It's
a case that still divides many people in this country, but at the end of
his life Hiss considered vindication a declaration by a Russian General,
who controlled the KGB archives, saying that Hiss had never been a spy.
Alger Hiss, dead tonight at the age of 92."
As for the
vindication suggested by Jennings and Brokaw, both were apparently
referring to a 1992 statement from Soviet General Volkogonov that the KGB
archives contained no evidence that Hiss had spied for the Soviet Union.
But as even The New York Times obituary on Saturday noted, "he
conceded that he could not rule out the possibility that some records have
been overlooked or destroyed."
The New York
Times story continued: "In 1993, Maria Schmidt, a Hungarian historian
doing research on the Hungarian secret police, said she had discovered a
stack of documents among the files of the Interior Ministry in Budapest
that implicated Mr. Hiss as a communist spy."
this year the National Security Agency released a 1945 message to Moscow
from a Soviet spy in Washington that identified a State Department
official as an agent code-named "Ales." As the Times reported,
"There was a notation by someone at the National Security Agency
suggesting Ales was 'probably Alger Hiss.'"
2) The November 13 CyberAlert reported that ABC's World News Tonight
on Tuesday, November 12 aired a story on the Commerce Department launching
an investigation of whether John Huang raised money for the DNC while he
was at Commerce and whether he really cut off all contact with the Lippo
Indonesian conglomerate where he formerly worked.
News and CBS Evening News that night: No story. And the
blackout has continued, a review of broadcast network evening shows
through November 16 found:
- The November
13 Washington Post reported the Commerce Department investigation and
that DNC Chairman Don Fowler conceded the party failed the check the
legitimacy of donors. The Washington Times reported on page one that
Huang met with Webster Hubbell after Hubbell resigned but before he
plead guilty: "At the time of the meeting, Mr. Huang had been at
the Commerce Department for 15 days after his resignation as vice
chairman of the Indonesian-based Lippo Group. Hubbell was on the Lippo
payroll after his 1994 resignation and was negotiating with
independent counsel Kenneth Starr for testimony in the Whitewater
- The November
14 Washington Post picked up the Washington Times story on the
Huang/Hubbell meeting and detailed how Huang simultaneously worked at
Commerce and raised DNC money.
- A front page
story in the November 15 Los Angeles Times recounted how large
donations to the DNC followed a few days after businessmen met Huang
at Commerce. Also on Friday, The Wall Street Journal revealed that
Mark Middleton, the White House aide involved in fundraising in Taiwan
with Huang, "entertained clients or potential clients in the
White House staff restaurant after he left the government and set up
his own consulting company."
- The Saturday,
November 16 New York Times reported that in an interview with the
paper Clinton admitted "that he twice discussed policy about
Indonesia and China with James Riady, the Indonesian financier,
Democratic contributor and longtime friend of Mr. Clinton who is at
the center of several inquiries into the influence of foreign money in
None on NBC Nightly News, the only one to air in D.C. in Saturday.
3) On Friday The Washington Post's John Carmody reported: "Senior
presidential adviser George Stephanopoulos lunched in Manhattan yesterday
with ABC News President Roone Arledge and his top aide, Joanna Bistany.
Network sources say Stephanopoulos, who has said he plans to leave the
White House soon, is being considered as a contributor to Sunday morning's
This Week as the program undergoes changes following David Brinkley's
retirement as moderator, and on other news programs, including Good
Just when you
thought there were enough liberals on network television ABC wants to hire