John Huang returned to the center of the Senate's fundraising investigation yesterday. Karl Jackson of the U.S.-Thailand Business Council asserted Huang stood at a June 1996 White House coffee and underlined the need for attendees to contribute. His associate Clarke Wallace said he was "75 percent sure" of Jackson's account. Democratic fundraiser Beth Dozoretz, who personally raised $750,000 for the President, claimed she didn't remember any Huang appeals.
Later in the afternoon, Rawlein Soberano told the Senate of Huang's offer to launder $300,000 in donations through his Asian-American business group. Soberano made none of the network news. In other fundraising news, Dan Burton's House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearings were delayed by last-minute appeals for immunity, and Janet Reno announced a shakeup in the Justice Department fundraising task force. Last night, ABC and CBS each aired one full report, but NBC only prepared an anchor brief. Only ABC noted fundraising this morning, with one anchor brief. CNN and MSNBC avoided live coverage yesterday.
Evening news, September 16:
ABC's World News Tonight began with Diana's chauffeur, Clinton and the tobacco deal, how Americans don't spend enough on roads, and consumer prices. Thirteen minutes into the show, reporter Linda Douglass announced that "an ABC News analysis of contributions from people who attended the coffees shows that more than $667,000 was put into a fund that went to specific candidates. That is called hard money and it is illegal to raise such money on federal property." After reviewing testimony from Jackson and Dozoretz, Douglass ended by relaying spins from the White House and Reno.
NBC Nightly News led with a study on doctors prescribing too many antibiotics, infected fish in Maryland, and Dodi's bodyguard. Nine minutes in, Tom Brokaw read a 40-second anchor brief on the Senate testimony.
CBS Evening News led off with the fundraising scandal, with Bob Schieffer placing special emphasis on Reno's shakeup and Sen. Arlen Specter's charge that "the FBI now admits it has known for more than a year that a Democratic campaign contributor, in Specter's words, 'made significant campaign contributions as part of a plan of the government of China, but for some reason did not tell Senators investigating all of this.'"
CNN pre-empted The World Today, but Prime News (at 8 PM ET) carried anchor briefs on the Reno shakeup and what Burton's witnesses were expected to say. Candy Crowley's full story covered both Burton and the Jackson testimony, ending with the White House spin that the Map Room is part of the private residence, so fundraisers there are legal.
Morning shows, September 17:
ABC's Good Morning America aired a full report and an interview with White House aide Bruce Reed on the proposed tobacco settlement, but gave a single anchor brief to the Reno shakeup at 7:30 AM.
CBS This Morning covered Clinton's views on a tobacco deal, but had nothing on fundraising.
NBC's Today ignored fundraising, but aired a second straight interview with author Kitty Kelley dishing unsubstantiated stories about Britain's royal family. When asked if Queen Elizabeth had any positive qualities, Kelley said she didn't approve of Margaret Thatcher's economic policies. - Tim Graham and Brent Baker