Starr No Man of Justice;
1) The Hubbell decision "further weakens Starr's image as a man of justice," relayed ABC in picking up the White House line. In China Clinton can escape scandal, NBC trumpeted. ABC's Brian Ross discovered the PLA buys guns by delivering Victor Kiam's razors.
The judge's dismissal of the tax charges against Hubbell and his associates topped all but the FNC newscast Wednesday night. FNC went first with the opening of the Diana museum in England. The decision came late in the day, at about 4pm ET, forcing the networks to scramble as evidenced by how all the stories were read by a reporter sitting in the studio instead of from the field.
All the Hubbell stories ran through the judge's arguments about how Starr had exceeded his jurisdiction, had violated Hubbell's right against self-incrimination by using documents he had voluntarily turned over and had gone on a "fishing expedition" in making Hubbell comply with an overly broad subpoena. ABC's Jackie Judd relayed a Clinton ally claim that "this further weakens Starr's image as a man of justice." CNN's John King examined how the decision raised "new questions about the independent counsel and his hardball tactics."
But other than a quick references on CNN to how Starr was asking "did a friend give him lucrative jobs to keep him quiet?" None of the stories told viewers anything about how the charges stemmed from allegations Hubbell failed to pay tax on hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from Clinton associates at the time the independent counsel wished him to talk about his Whitewater knowledge.
On China, ABC's Brian Ross provided an exclusive on how the PLA makes money by selling clothing in the U.S. and delivering razors for Victor Kiam. CBS explored the spread of capitalism to rural areas, CNN looked at China's economic problems, FNC went through Clinton's day at the stock exchange and in a cyber café, and NBC highlighted trade barriers. Tom Brokaw was pleased Clinton could concentrate on economic matters instead of Whitewater and David Bloom suggested Clinton was gratified that Chinese reporters are "not like those pesky American journalists always asking about the Monica Lewinsky investigation."
Here are some highlights from the Wednesday, July 1 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. The last words of Jackie Judd's opening story:
Next, after Peter
Jennings showed Clinton touring the Shanghai stock exchange, intrepid ABC
News investigative reporter Brian Ross highlighted how China's
People's Liberation Army (PLA) sells clothing in the West to make money.
Finally, Jennings narrated a brief video clip showing Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Madeleine Albright visiting a restored synagogue: "Mrs. Clinton said the project symbolizes respect for religious differences."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the
Phil Jones handled the report and was followed by Kristin Jeannette-Myers who characterized the decision as good news for Monica Lewinsky since it shows there are limits on how far Starr can go.
From China, Scott Pelley showed Clinton at the stock exchange and then rolled tape on a pre-packaged story about how capitalism has also spread to rural areas. The Chinese, Pelley concluded, can work wherever they want and sell whatever they want so long as they don't challenge the political authority. He dubbed it "freedom within a cage." After Pelley reporter Anthony Mason focused on how China has become a key U.S. ally in countering the Asian economic collapse.
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET dedicated its first 11 minutes to Hubbell.
-- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET held Hubbell to a brief item read by the anchor. From China Jim Angle took viewers through Clinton's tour of the Shanghai stock exchange, visit to an Internet café, speech about trade barriers and evening boat ride.
FNC's Gary Matsumoto checked in with another exclusive about one more source in the CNN/Time tale about nerve gas who insists he never said what CNN's Peter Arnett reported. More on this in the next CyberAlert.
-- NBC Nightly
News. Lisa Myers made a vague reference to Hubbell's outside income. The
judge Wednesday dismissed the counts which was leveled in an April
indictment "charging the Hubbell's had failed to report certain
income and now owed taxes of more than $840,000." NBC twice
highlighted how Clinton is doing good works and is able to escape his
scandals in China. Introducing David Bloom's story, Tom Brokaw hailed
China is really a lot more democratic and open than Americans, more interested in their domestic political battles, are willing to realize. So argued CNN's Mike Chinoy last Friday in a June 26 The World Today story caught by MRC news analyst Eric Darbe. Amongst those missing the big picture: "conservative strategists looking for a post Cold War enemy to replace the Soviet Union." That's right, conservatives are "looking for an enemy," we don't really care about human rights. And neither does anyone on the left or right upset about China's repression.
Chinoy contended that "even now the crackdown in Tiananmen Square remains the defining moment in shaping American perceptions of China. What happened here, in 1989, witnessed by a huge American TV audience, produced a fundamental change in the way the public, politicians and the media in the United States looked at China. Overnight, a country once viewed as a pragmatic reforming partner was turned into a brutal international pariah."
An illusion shattered.
Chinoy complained: "Ever since 1989 China has been a target of constant criticism and China policy a source of bitter debate across the American political spectrum."
Following a clip
of Clinton, Chinoy launched into a diatribe about all those frustrating
Clinton from doing what is correct:
Imagine that. Persecuting Christians, forcing abortions and imprisoning dissidents, yet not everyone wants to overlook it all. If only we could be a bit more open-minded and understand the big picture. -- Brent Baker 
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