CBS & NBC Avoided Fundraising; FNC Outlined Money Flow; "Witty" Zhu
1) Neither CBS or NBC even mentioned Chinese donations Thursday night. ABC only touched on the subject broadly and none noted the Chung charges. CBS even ignored Chinese spying and a New York Times story on how it occurred in Clinton's first term.
2) FNC put it all together. Carl Cameron outlined how money flowed on a "circuitous" route from Chinese intelligence to a front company to Lippo to John Huang to the DNC. Plus, in 1993 Al Gore met with the "head of Beijing's alleged espionage front."
ABC, CBS and NBC still refused to utter the name "Johnny Chung" Thursday night -- even after a wire service reporter at the joint U.S.-China press conference raised the issue of China funneling money to Clinton's re-election campaign. ABC's Sam Donaldson at least referred to the general topic, noting how the Chinese Premier "said he had no knowledge that the Chinese government had contributed money to Mr. Clinton's 1996 campaign." But the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News on Thursday night didn't even mention fundraising in their wrap-up stories.
Thursday's New York Times showcased on the front page a story about how China may have stolen neutron bomb information during Clinton's first term, directly contradicting the Clinton's team line that all the espionage occurred during the Regan-Bush years, but the CBS Evening News ignored the story. ABC and NBC covered the subject, though NBC did not give credit to the newspaper and concluded by stressing the White House spin that "there's no evidence China's neutron bomb was improved as a result." CNN devoted a whole piece by Pierre Thomas to the Times story and Clinton's previous denial.
FNC, which considers the Times story a lifting of its own exclusive from March 19 which gained no wider media traction, delivered a unique piece by Carl Cameron outlining the "Chinese military's circuitous route to funnel money to the President's re-election effort." Cameron put it all together, explaining how money traveled from Chinese intelligence to a front company to the Lippo Group to the Riady family to John Huang and finally to the Democratic Party. See item #2 for details on this FNC exclusive.
(At 3:39pm ET, before the press conference began, FNC's Brit Hume recalled with Wendell Goler how Goler had asked Clinton on March 19 about a Fox report that spying took place during his administration, a story paralleling the New York Times piece, lamenting: "We shouldn't underestimate Wendell should we the ability of the New York Times to inject something into the bloodstream that another news organization might have less luck in doing.")
Now, to what the wire reporters asked at the press conference and what topics the broadcast networks covered Thursday night.
As usual during
these joint events, U.S. reporters were allowed to pose three questions
and the opportunities went to the three wire services. But unlike previous
events this year, two of the wire reporters actually raised controversial
issues with Clinton and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji during their 90 minute
appearance which began at 3:50pm ET and was slowed by all the translation
and Zhu's never-ending answers. UPI's Helen Thomas did ask about
Kosovo, but then Terry Hunt of AP inquired:
McQuillan of Reuters asked Zhu about charges of human rights abuses and
then turned to Clinton, suggesting he did not deliberately mislead but was
a "victim" of bad staff:
Here's what the April 8 evening shows, which all still opened with multiple stories about Kosovo, found newsworthy on the China front:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight provided the most complete report of the broadcast networks,
but that's not saying much. Sam Donaldson began his piece by relaying
how Zhu denied that China stole nuclear secrets. Donaldson then offered
the only broadcast network mention of the night about fundraising:
That was it for CBS. It wasn't as if the network lacked enough time to cover illegal donations from China or the neutron bomb. Later in the show Rather took 54 seconds to explain how a cab driver in Boston won $197 million in the "Big Game" lottery, playing a soundbite from his boss about how he learned he had won. Since Rather's intro to Plante dealt with Clinton's answer about ground troops in Kosovo, the 1:06 of Plante is an accurate measure of how much time CBS gave to China. So, CBS allocated 82 percent as much time to a lottery winner as to China.
Bloom concluded by
kindly relaying the White House spin:
-- Bottom line: You could have watched every World News Tonight, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, This Morning, NBC Nightly News and Today since the Los Angeles Times story broke on Sunday about how Johnny Chung had told a grand jury that he got $300,000 from the head of Chinese military intelligence to donate to the DNC, and you would have not yet heard anything about it.
Finally for this item a brief note about CNN which gave the Chung charges 29 seconds on Monday's The World Today. Thursday night John King made only this vague reference to the topic: "Zhu also denied allegations China illegally funneled money to Mr. Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign. The President responded by appealing for China's cooperation with U.S. investigation."
 FNC puts it all together. In a story run on both FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report Thursday night, Carl Cameron tied together some of the best-known names in the fundraising scandal, linking current revelations about Chinese intelligence with names from the past, such as John Huang and the Riady's. Cameron also uncovered how "on September 23rd 1993 [John] Huang and [James] Riady came to the White House to meet Gore and introduce Shen Juren (spelling wrong), head of Beijing's alleged espionage front, China Resources Company."
Cameron opened by
recalling Clinton's answer to colleague Wendell Goler in March -- about
how spying occurred in Clinton's first term and administration officials
had been briefed about it -- and how it contradicts what Fox has since
directed viewers through FNC's unique outline, showing how Chung's
testimony revealed by Sunday's Los Angeles Times interlinks with
characters we heard about long ago:
During Cameron's explanation of how the money flowed, FNC offered an on-screen graphic showing the flow of money with arrows between each name going down the screen: General Ji --> China Resources --> Lippo Group --> Riady Family --> John Huang --> Democratic Party.
Picking up again
with Cameron, he noted how Chung testified that money came from General Ji,
the head of Chinese intelligence, tying in Vice President Gore:
Cameron concluded by suggesting the Chinese fundraising scandal may be a problem for Gore's presidential bid. But only if other media outlets pick up on FNC's discovery, unlike how they ignored FNC's March 19 scoop about spying during Clinton's first term.
Thursday morning network morning show producers awoke to the New York Times story cited above as well as a Washington Times piece linking John Huang and Charles Yah Lin Trie to money from the Chinese military.
All three shows ignored the Washington Times story and only gave a few seconds to the New York Times.
The lead to Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper's April 8 story:
Former Democratic fund-raiser has, for the first time, linked Charles Yah Lin Trie and John Huang directly to a massive fund-raising offensive financed by Chinese military intelligence to help win President Clinton's re-election.
Federal authorities and others familiar with Johnny Chung's grand jury testimony said the California businessman -- a cooperating witness in the Justice Department's campaign finance probe --testified that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) financed the fund-raising scheme with cash secretly routed out of Beijing.
Chung's testimony in a task-force probe that has seen 14 indictments gives investigators a direct link between the PLA and illicit foreign donations and, the sources said, ties Mr. Trie and Mr. Huang to the suspected plot...
END Washington Times excerpt
Under the headline "Intelligence Report Points to Second China Nuclear Leak," New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and James Risen disclosed:
In early 1996, the United States received a startling report from one of its Chinese spies. Officials inside China's intelligence service, the spy said, were boasting that they had just stolen secrets from the United States and had used them to improve Beijing's neutron bomb, according to American officials.
The spy had provided reliable information in the past, and officials said investigators took the report seriously.
China first built and tested a neutron warhead in the 1980s, using what American officials have said publicly was secret data stolen from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of America's key nuclear weapons laboratories.
But the design did not work properly. American officials say that China's 1988 test of the neutron bomb, which kills people with enhanced radiation while leaving buildings intact, was not successful.
Now, the spy was suggesting, Chinese agents had solved the problem by coming back to the United States in 1995 to steal more secrets. The spy even provided details of how the information was transferred from the United States to China, officials said.
The report prompted a federal criminal investigation, but American officials say they have found no evidence that China has produced an improved neutron bomb.
Sandy Berger, who is now the National Security Adviser, was first told of a possible new theft of neutron bomb data in 1996, according to officials who took part in the meeting or read the highly classified materials used to prepare for it....
END New York Times excerpt
-- ABC's Good Morning America gave a 28-second summary during the 7am news update and anchor Antonio Mora returned with 14 more seconds at 8am. (See item #4 for a quote.)
-- CBS's This
Morning allocated 58 seconds in its 7:50am update not carried by all
affiliates, but as you can tell from this transcript taken down by the
MRC's Brian Boyd, CBS forget to tell viewers what the New York Times
-- On NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, news anchor Jodi Applegate took 26 seconds at 7am to note: "China has objected strongly to the NATO offensive even as Premier Zhu Rongji continues his visit to the United States. And this morning the New York Times is publishing new reports about Chinese spying. The Chinese premier arrived on in Washington on Wednesday and is to meet with President Clinton later today. The Times report says the Chinese stole secret American technology in 1995 to help improve their own version of a neutron bomb."
Zhu Rongji greater the Gorbachev? He's one "delightfully appealing," and "witty" guy who can ad-lib and even jokes about Chinese spying. How charming. That's how ABC and CNN reporters portrayed him on Thursday, April 8.
-- During Good Morning America's 8am news update anchor Antonio Mora took 14 seconds to note: "There is a new report this morning of Chinese nuclear spying. The New York Times says that as recently as 1995, the Chinese apparently stole technology to help improve their neutron bomb. The report comes on the day President Clinton goes into talks with China's visiting premier."
Then, as observed
by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, ABC's Ann Compton offered this glowing
assessment of the communist repressor:
-- Thursday night
on CNN's The World Today Andrea Koppel explained how gaining admission
to the WTO was Zhu's first goal, but she explained how he also had
another mission in mind for his journey:
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