The current round of hearings held by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee wrapped up Thursday with testimony from a couple of investigators hired by the Clinton legal defense fund and a representative of the Ching Hai Buddhist sect that raised Charlie Trie's money for the defense fund. On an important symbolic note, the Senate committee voted unanimously to subpoena the White House after the White House took months to release documents about Wu Lap Seng's White House visits. CBS aired an evening story, but ABC and NBC did not. On the morning shows, only ABC had one question on the hearings.
Evening shows, July 31:
CBS Evening News aired a story for the fourth evening in a row. Reporter Bob Schieffer began by explaining how Clinton defense fund investigator Terry Lenzner admitted he drew up a proposal to investigate, for the Oklahoma Indian tribe, Senator Don Nickles and his family. Bob Schieffer explained: "After the Indians gave the Democratic Party $100,000 in an unsuccessful effort to recover this land, a donation the party returned when it came to light, the Indians said a close friend of the President told them the best way to get the land was to hire Lenzner to dig up dirt on Nickles." (The tribe didn't approve it.)
ABC World News Tonight anchor Aaron Brown offered no report on the hearings, but he did underline a Republican case: "California Congressman Jay Kim agreed to plead guilty today to charges that he accepted more than $230,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Kim admits receiving illegal corporate and foreign money, including $50,000 from a Taiwanese national. Kim says he will not resign."
NBC Nightly News aired nothing about fundraising. But it should be noted that when the tribe's story first broke in the March 10 Washington Post, only NBC Nightly News picked it up. Noting how the DNC later asked for another $25,000 for inaugural activities, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski asserted then: "Tribal leaders believe they're the victims of what they call a shakedown."
Morning shows, August 1:
CBS This Morning ignored the hearings for the 17th weekday morning in a row.They did have time for two segments on baby talk.
ABC's Good Morning America had no hearings update, but substitute co-host Bill Ritter did ask one question to Cokie Roberts: "A lot of conservative media watch groups are saying that we in the mainstream media are not paying as much attention as perhaps we should be to these hearings. Are we missing some bombshells here, and not telling the American people?" Roberts claimed the hearings didn't have enough names the media recognized. (And Richard Secord and Oliver North were household names?)
NBC's Today aired nothing on the hearings, but Matt Lauer interviewed Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. Alter complained one story was undercovered: the capture of Cambodian mass murderer Pol Pot. "Hey, Bill Clinton got great news this week," said Lauer, asking how good his approval numbers are. "Very high. Bill Clinton is getting a big thumbs up," agreed Alter. "There aren't many storm clouds on the horizon for Bill Clinton, other than maybe Medicare reform," Lauer asserted. Not with the way the media ignores the Clinton scandals. - Tim Graham & Brent Baker