CyberAlert -- 12/31/1998 -- ABC & NBC Shunt Technology Transfers to China

ABC & NBC Shunt Technology Transfers to China; Media Missed Liberal $

1) A bi-partisan congressional committee determined technology transfers to China have harmed national security. Network interest: 22 seconds on ABC and 26 seconds on NBC. Only FNC reminded viewers that Loral's chief donated $100,000 to Democrats.

2) A liberal group actually paid for a pre-election ad by anti-impeachment historians, "though nobody in the major media seems to have bothered to discover this."

3) The second runner-up quotes in "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

4) Cable competition? Minutes apart the same reporter appeared live Wednesday on MSNBC and then CNN.

>>> Please be on the lookout for us. As 1998 ends and 1999 begins I expect some columnists and editorial page writers around the country, as well as talk radio hosts, will feature excerpts from the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting. We normally learn of these appearances weeks later. This year I'd like to feature, on our Best of NQ Web page, links to the print ones. So, if you see a column or editorial or a mention in a magazine over the next few days, could you please let us know? And if those who write the pieces could send us a text file or alert us to its location on the Web, we'll feature the piece on our Web page complete with appropriate plugs and/or links for the publication. Send your sightings to: <<<

Spelling Corrections: the December 29 CyberAlert misspelled the first name of the Democratic investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee. It's Abbe Lowell, not Abe, as his name is pronounced like "Abby." The same edition added an extra "L" to Susan McDougal's last name. It's McDougal, not McDougall.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) After months of whining by many in the media about the lack of bi-partisanship in the impeachment debate, on Wednesday a special select House committee of five Republicans and four Democrats released a unanimous report which concluded that U.S. technology deals with China have boosted the accuracy of their missiles and harmed America's national security.

Network reaction: of the broadcast networks, only CBS considered it worth a full story. ABC's World News Tonight gave it a piddling 22 seconds and NBC Nightly News allocated a mere 26 seconds. FNC and CNN also provided full stories, but only FNC reminded viewers that Loral's Chairman donated $100,000 to Democrats just before his company earned a technology transfer waiver.

(Wednesday night ABC and CNN led with Iraq firing missiles at U.S. planes, NBC began with the "extreme weather," CBS opened with the China report and FNC started with the report from the Oklahoma City bombing grand jury. All but CBS featured full stories on Trent Lott's proposal for a short trial followed by a vote on whether the charges are even impeachable, a plan opposed by Henry Hyde. The stories included at least one soundbite from Ohio Senator Mike DeWine who flew to Washington to make his case that the Senate can only acquit or convict, not censure. NBC's Claire Shipman added: "NBC News has learned that a group of conservative Republicans in the House are poised to announce their support for censure, worried that since it appears there aren't the 67 votes necessary to convict him, the President might escape without punishment.")

Here's how each network's Wednesday, December 30 evening show handled the China report:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Kevin Newman gave it 22 seconds: "A report released today by a special congressional committee claims that technology deals over the past two decades with China have damaged U.S. national security, but a lot of the details were not made public. The investigation was begun after allegations that contributions to the Democratic Party influenced the illegal transfer of satellite technology to China which China then used in weaponry."

-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams took 26 seconds to relay: "Across town at Capitol Hill there is news that a new report concludes some technology deals made between American businesses and China did in fact hurt U.S. national security. The report is from the special bi-partisan House committee and reveals China got access not only to rocket and satellite technology, but also to sensitive military technology. The report offers almost 40 different proposals to keep that from happening again."

-- CNN's The World Today. Pierre Thomas provided a full report with soundbites of select committee Chairman Chris Cox and ranking Democrat Norman Dicks. Thomas emphasized the bi-partisan aspect: "The 700-page report unanimously approved by five Republicans and four Democrats focuses in part on two U.S. space and communications companies, Loral and Hughes Electronics." But Thomas concluded by worrying about the impact on relations with China: "The classified report makes 38 recommendations, including some that would make it more difficult for the Chinese to obtain U.S. technology. That could have a chilling effect on U.S.-Chinese relations."

-- FNC's Fox Report. Gary Matsumoto summarized the Cox committee report, explaining how after a 1996 crash of a rocket carrying a satellite, in helping the Chinese identify the problem, Loral transferred missile guidance technology to the Chinese. Over video of Bernard Schwartz shaking hands with Clinton, Matsumoto uniquely reminded viewers: "There's been lingering suspicion, still unproven, that Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz, seen here with the President, received a waiver to export the technology after making a $100,000 contribution to the Democratic Party in June 1994. Schwartz says there was no connection. It was a unanimous ruling reached by a bipartisan committee..."

-- CBS Evening News. Anchor John Roberts topped the broadcast:
"The alarm bells have been ringing for years, over trade deals that sent U.S. military technology to communist China. Tonight a congressional investigation has concluded that some of those deals did in fact pose a danger to U.S. national security. Much of the report is secret, but CBS's Jim Stewart has the big picture of how American hardware and know-how wound up in China's war machine."

Stewart explained how "the business deals at issue date back to 1989 when former President Bush, and later President Clinton, approved waivers allowing U.S. satellites to be launched aboard Chinese rockets." He concluded: "At least two more shoes are set to drop in this matter. Still unanswered is whether any of those trade waivers were influenced by campaign contributions to the Clinton administration and the outcome of a Justice Department investigation into whether any U.S. companies broke the law by giving the Chinese perhaps too much advice."

The alarm bells have been ringing for years? Bells that haven't previously awoken CBS. As two MediaWatch items from earlier this year detailed, except for FNC, the networks have shown little interest in this non-Monica scandal.

From the June 1 MediaWatch:
Another Clinton headache arrived in the April 4 New York Times. Jeff Gerth and Raymond Bonner reported the Justice Department was looking to prosecute two defense contractors who may have illegally provided China with space expertise that "significantly advanced Beijing's ballistic missile program." But in February, Bill Clinton "quietly approved the export to China of similar technology by one of the companies under investigation." The Times noted the Chairman of that company, Loral, one Bernard Schwartz, was the largest individual contributor to the Democratic National Committee last year. Network coverage? Nothing except on the Fox News Channel, which reported it 11 days later.

On May 15, the New York Times reported that Johnny Chung told investigators that a large part of the almost $100,000 he gave Democrats in the summer of 1996 came from Liu Chaoying, who works on defense modernization, such as satellite technology, for China's People's Liberation Army. Two days later, the Times added how Clinton overrode then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher's decision to limit China's ability to launch U.S.-made satellites on Chinese rockets.

Where were the networks? On the 15th, in the midst of heavy coverage of Frank Sinatra's death, ABC devoted 75 seconds to it, CBS 27, and NBC 15. Two nights later, ABC reported one story, but CBS and NBC ignored it. A few nights later, the networks each devoted a few seconds to Newt Gingrich's announcement of a special committee to investigate the China matter (ABC 17, CBS 18, NBC 23). It took CBS five nights before it aired a full story, NBC six (offering only 62 seconds in the first five nights)....

From the November 2 MediaWatch:
In a front-page story for the October 19 New York Times, reporters Jeff Gerth and Eric Schmitt followed up on the controversial sale of missile technology to China with a story on how Clinton's decision to relax export rules, made after he met high-tech executives who later contributed to the DNC, "enabled Chinese companies to obtain a wide range of sophisticated technology, some of which has already been diverted to military uses."

So did the networks jump at the chance to cover a story involving something other than Monica Lewinsky? No. After spending months lamenting their obsession with sex scandals, the networks did not devote a single word that night, the following morning or rest of the week to the substantive issue of China diverting U.S. technology for military use. While all the networks focused on Clinton's role in negotiating a new Middle East peace accord, none have aired a single story on the missile technology diversion story since early June....

END Excerpts


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Dishonest historians and disinterested reporters. In Wednesday's Washington Times, Inside Politics columnist Greg Pierce picked up on a fascinating item from the January/February issue of American Enterprise magazine about how a liberal group actually paid for a pre-election ad by anti-impeachment historians though, the American Enterprise Institute's magazine observed, "nobody in the major media seems to have bothered to discover this."

Under the heading "Dishonest Historians," in the December 30 Washington Times Pierce first set up the item:
"Earlier in the week, this column noted a George magazine report that presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal orchestrated the 'nonpartisan' ad in which more than 400 historians declared there was no reason to consider impeachment of the President. The ad appeared in the New York Times just days before the November elections."

He then quoted the magazine's discovery that the media "missed one aspect of the affair: the invaluable assistance these 'historians speaking as historians' -- as one organizer put it -- received from People for the American Way (PAW), a left-wing activist group."

The American Enterprise revealed: "Though the historians neglected to mention it in their ad, or in their press releases, or at their press conference, they were only able to publish their Times ad because PAW's tax-exempt foundation purchased it for them and served as the receiver for the donations that paid for it. The mailing address given in the historians' ad is actually the Washington office of PAW, though nobody in the major media seems to have bothered to discover this. Somehow we suspect that if 400 non-liberal scholars took out such an ad and listed an address that in fact belonged to, say, the Christian Coalition, the information might come out in news stories."

Without question.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Here are the second runner-up quotes in 14 award categories in "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." (The December 28 CyberAlert ran the winning quotes, the December 30 edition the first runners-up.) To pick the winners and runners-up the MRC sent ballots to 50 media observers who picked a first, second and third best quote in each category. First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices got two points and third place picks were assigned one point. Point totals are listed after each quote. For the list of judges, see the December 28 CyberAlert or go to:

To read all the quotes and see and hear the broadcast television ones via RealPlayer as compiled by MRC research associate Kristina Sewell and Webmaster Sean Henry, go to the same address:
To check which quotes visitors to the MRC Web page picked and to see the entire ballot, go to: and click on "Special Web Edition."

Below is the second runner-up in the "Quote of the Year," followed by the third place quotes in the "Presidential Kneepad Award (for Best Lewinsky Impression)" through the "Carve Clinton into Mt. Rushmore Award" with the "Hallucinating Hillary Award (for Promoting the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy)" and the "Good Morning Morons Award (for Foolishness in the Morning)" amongst those in between.

Quote of the Year -- Second runner-up

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz: "It's interesting to watch them, Ann Lewis and others, dutifully drag themselves before the cameras yesterday and saying, 'I know I've been telling you for months that this didn't happen. Well it did happen, but no one cares and lets move on.' So their own credibility has taken a hit."
Co-host Lisa McRee: "But it's also courageous professionalism, some would say."
-- Exchange from ABC's Good Morning America, August 19, just after Clinton admitted he misled his staff. [39 points]

Presidential Kneepad Award (for Best Lewinsky Impression) -- Second runner-up

"'The only people who count in any marriage are the two that are in it.' There is a simple alchemy to their relationship: she's goofy, flat-out in love with him and he with her. 'They don't kiss. They devour each other,' says one aide. He needs her - for intellectual solace, political guidance and spiritual sustenance ....Clinton haters and even some supporters wonder whether their marriage will end with the presidency. That seems wildly unlikely. Neither Clinton plans to trade in a public career for shuffleboard. As long as they're in the limelight, their turbulent partnership seems certain to endure -- for better or worse. That's because they see themselves in almost Messianic terms, as great leaders who have a mission to fulfill. Her friends speculate that the Bible gives her a historical context for what she's going through. 'There's a lot of consolation, guidance and refueling that comes from reading about centuries-old calamities,' says a friend. Given the storm they're in, it's a source of inspiration they'll need."
-- Matthew Cooper and Karen Breslau, Feb. 9 Newsweek. [48 points]

Wired Wicked Witch Award (for Loathing Linda Tripp) -- Second runner-up

"And Kathleen Willey also spoke about Linda Tripp, a Clinton-basher who seems to be at every ugly turn in this controversy. Tripp was outside the Oval Office when Willey emerged from her encounter with the President...Just how is it that Linda Tripp is so often conveniently involved in the President's troubles? For some clues let's bring in The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, who has profiled the controversial Miss Tripp in this week's issue. You write that co-workers often viewed her as an inveterate busybody. Has she always been a snoop and a gossip with a particular interest in other people's romantic lives?"
-- Bryant Gumbel on Public Eye, March 17. [53 points]

Hallucinating Hillary Award (for Promoting the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) -- Second runner-up

"On another front, there could be trouble for the Ken Starr Whitewater investigation. Reports continue to surface that this key witness for the prosecution, David Hale, may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as Clinton opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right."
-- Dan Rather, April 2 CBS Evening News. [43 points]

Corporal Cueball Carville Cadet Award (for Hating Ken Starr) -- Second runner-up

"The best defense it seems somehow is going on the offense now. While seedy stories in the media seem to be getting ever seedier. Each reporter in his turn sounds more and more like Howard Stern. A great investigative boom reporting who did what to whom. We see so many different styles of accusations and denials. When so much mud around you flies, you are bound to get some in your eyes. When such a war has been declared, everyone's in, nobody's spared. The jokes, the snickers, and the flippery. The slope we're on is long and slippery. And there is something in the air which this country best beware: for there is danger in the dirt and lots of people could get hurt. And what we sow, we someday reap. Last night as I laid down to sleep I dreamed an apparition swarthy, the unshaved ghost of Joe McCarthy."
-- Charles Osgood, CBS Saturday Morning, February 28. [46 points]

Steve Brill Media Masochism Award (for Bemoaning Monicagate's Impact on Clinton) -- Second runner-up

"I think, not to underestimate the American public. If you just look at one story where the press really almost entirely went one way and the public went the other way, was the whole episode of Monica Lewinsky. I mean there you had a story where the press was so consistently hostile on this story, and the public stood back and said 'Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, we're not going to go along with it until we're a lot further down the road.' The public is a lot more sophisticated because they've been exposed to too many stories that turned out not to be true."
-- U.S. News & World Report Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman on the July 7 Good Morning America. [45 points]

Media McCarthyism Award (for Tying Conservatives to Murder) -- Second runner-up

"My concern with this guy, Weston, is he's a guy talking up this business about the evils of big government and he's a nut case, but this is his rant and I wonder if, you know, in some way the Republicans in this town haven't gone too far with this kind of logic."
-- FNC analyst and Washington Post reporter Juan Williams on the Capitol Hill shooting, July 26 Fox News Sunday. [45 points]

The Everybody But Us Shut Up Award (for Promoting Campaign Finance Reform) -- Second runner-up

"It was a bill that was doomed to die. The last time you heard people so eager to claim responsibility for something like this, they were terrorists."
-- NBC reporter Gwen Ifill, February 27 Washington Week in Review on PBS. [49 points]

Starr Behind Bars Award

"CNN has learned the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee plans to ask Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate whether Ken Starr should be removed from office. Sources say Congressman John Conyers is writing a long letter to Reno, accusing Starr of repeated abuses of power, including pressuring witnesses to commit perjury. The allegations are specific and serious, aimed at a man who already has given many people the impression he's on a mission. That may have a lot to do with Starr's religious and Republican roots..."
-- Greta Van Susteren hosting the February 5 CNN special "Investigating the Investigator." [48 points]

Good Morning Morons Award (for Foolishness in the Morning) -- Second runner-up

"You and I spoke right at the beginning of this second term. Now, with two years left, is it something you look forward to? Do you get out there and say 'I want to keep going out, I want to meet people, I have more stuff I want to do,' or do you look and go 'Oh, my God, two more years!'?"

"There's so much speculation now about what you're going to do. What Hillary Clinton's life is going to be after the presidency. Do you find that takes away from what you're going to do, or do you just like slough it off and pay no attention?"

"I've talked to several people and they came up and said 'She's so different than I thought she would be. She's so much more of a people person. She's funny, she's nice.' Do you think that, like, people don't get you? I mean you get out there and people see a different side of you."
-- Maria Shriver's questions to Hillary Clinton during her bus tour, July 16 Today. [44 points]

Move Over Buddy Award (for Geraldo Rivera's Pro-Clinton Lapdoggery) -- Second runner-up

"Will all of the media, including NBC, give even a fraction of the airtime and the newsprint that we gave to these allegations [Filegate, Whitewater, Travelgate] to the fact that no impeachable offenses were found? When are we going to say to the President of the United States, 'we're sorry'?"
-- Rivera, after citing a Nexis count of stories on the other scandals, September 14 Rivera Live on CNBC. [44 points]

Damn Those Conservatives Award -- Second runner-up

"I think Republicans are doing a rendition -- remember that old Zero Mostel parody Springtime for Hitler? I think that's what they're doing. The moral charge against Bill Clinton is being led by Newt Gingrich, the only Speaker in history to be sanctioned for unethical conduct, the most unpopular political figure in America. Dan Burton, the committee chairman, now has, at least according to the Washington Times, has his staff wearing latex gloves because he says left-wingers are sending him condoms in the mail. His staff aide, Mr. Bossie, most reporters I know think was a duplicitous wacko."
-- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt, May 9 Capital Gang. [44 points]

Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis) -- Second runner-up

"China has a one-child policy. Is that a good idea for all countries?"
-- Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to Bill McKibben, author of Maybe One: A personal and Environmental Argument for Single-Child Families, May 30. [46 points]

Carve Clinton into Mt. Rushmore Award -- Second runner-up

Dan Rather: "With the economy humming, CBS's White House correspondent Scott Pelley reports, President Clinton was singing his own praises, this time with the facts and figures to back him up."
Scott Pelley: "The recovery began before Mr. Clinton took office. The fact that it's run so long is credited to what some call the great odd couple -- Mr. Clinton and Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Chairman. Simply put, when Mr. Clinton made deficit reduction his top priority, Greenspan felt confident driving interest rates down. America did the rest. If the recovery continues to December, it will be the longest peacetime recovery in history."
-- March 6 CBS Evening News. [33 points]


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Cable news competition? Watching MSNBC at about 4:10pm ET on Wednesday I saw a live report from a snowy Worcester, Massachusetts neighborhood. The reporter: Mark Dedarian (sp?) of WHDH-TV, a Sunbeam-owned NBC affiliate in Boston. Dedarian was decked out in an orange jacket emblazoned with a "7 News" logo. When he was done I switched over to CNN, only to see three minutes later....Mark Dedarian in his orange "7 News" jacket live from the very same street.

Apparently NBC hasn't prevented its affiliates from signing deals with CNN.

No more CyberAlerts until next year. --Brent Baker

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