Plain as the News on Your Face: Clinton Lies and Obstruction That TV News Has Ignored

4. Failing to Comply with Subpoenas.

THE CHARGE: Despite claims of full cooperation with the independent counsel and congressional investigators, the White House often withheld subpoenaed materials for months, even years at a time. Some of those delays concerned the White House Office Data Base, which was created to help keep tabs on friends and supporters -- and big donors. CBS and NBC touched on that story just once each in January 1997.

textbox4_319WHAT PRINT MEDIA REPORTED: Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's August 8, 1997 story began: "The Senate committee examining campaign finance abuses has begun an investigation to determine whether the Democratic National Committee obstructed the panel's inquiry by not delivering until Monday 4,000 pages of documents from the files of former DNC finance director Richard Sullivan.... DNC officials said the documents, contained in two boxes, include 1,500 pages of Sullivan's handwritten notes, files on controversial Democratic contributors such as Roger Tamraz and Johnny Chung, and 12 fundraising call sheets prepared for Hillary Rodham Clinton asking her to call donors such as designer Ralph Lauren." Months after the subpoenas arrived, the files supposedly were just found by Sullivan's successor in the only filing cabinet in his office.

A similar example emerged on November 6, 1997, when Deputy White House Counsel Cheryl Mills admitted in testimony before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee that she and former Counsel Jack Quinn decided to withhold (for a total of 15 months) a White House staffer's memo suggesting President Clinton wanted the newly created White House Office Data Base (WHODB) shared with the Democratic National Committee.

WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT: The White House's failure to produce subpoenaed documents prevented the time-limited Senate Government Affairs Committee investigation from developing. Instead of telling the public about White House non-compliance, TV reports underlined how the Senate was going nowhere fast. Part of the reason: their failure to cover it.

HOW TV NETWORKS COVERED IT: None of the networks covered either story. (Two days later, NBC Meet the Press Host Tim Russert raised the Sullivan papers twice in one show.)