CyberAlert - November 1, 1996 - Huang Gets Some Coverage

Five items today:

1. The revelation of John Huang's frequent white house visits led Thursday's Good Morning America, but were not mentioned at all on Today or This Morning.

2. Wednesday's NBC Nightly News did not include a word about Huang, but ABC and CBS did air stories on him.

3. ABC's Jeff Greenfield explores whether liberal bias may explain why scandals don't hurt Clinton.

4. Five days before the election CNN bumped Inside Politics back a half hour in order to show....

5. The November 4 edition of the MRC's Notable Quotables.

1) "DNC Fundraiser Huang Visited White House Often: Log Shows Him There 78 Times Since July '95" declared the front page story in the Thursday, October 31 Washington Post. The Washington Times headline read: "Huang Frequent White House Visitor: Also Got Unusual Security Clearance Waiver."
So, did these headlines prompt stories on the network morning shows? MRC analysts Steve Kaminski and Jim Forbes told me not on CBS This Morning or NBC's Today. Only GMA, MRC analyst Gene Eliasen observed, didn't ignore the news. GMA co-host Charlie Gibson opened the show:
"The lead story involves campaign fundraising. More fuel on the fire of that story that has been catching heat in the latter days of the campaign. John Huang, the fellow who was at the center of that Indonesian fundraising connection for the Democrats. The people in the administration have been downplaying his importance, but now there is word he made more than sixty visits to the White House in the first part of this year, those visits ending right away when those stories about Indonesian fundraising broke, and we'll have that in our newscasts throughout the morning."

Tuesday morning on Good Morning America Gibson had wondered why there wasn't more coverage of questions about Democratic fundraising, suggesting that "if Republicans had done this the press would be killing them." (See last quote in Notable Quotables below.) The question remains for the other networks, but Thursday morning Gibson's reporting addressed his concerns.

2) Thursday night NBC Nightly News failed to mention John Huang's name. Introducing a story on the Clinton campaign, Tom Brokaw announced: "For his part, President Clinton is attempting to cool off the controversies over his campaign contributions. NBC's Brian Williams is in California tonight ahead of the President's trip there."

But that was it. Williams said nothing about fundraising, instead reporting that "in Las Vegas he [Clinton] hit Dole on the tax cut plan. He reminded the audience about Dole's role, along with Gingrich, in shutting the government down during the winter."

Next, NBC aired a story from Lisa Myers on what will happen if Democrats win Congress. She began by noting that Dick Gephardt says "Democrats are more moderate than two years ago." She reported that "long time liberals who claim to have signed on to the new centrist agenda" would get the committee chairmanships. But she compared that to reality, asking Congressman Charles Rangel: "Are you committed to balancing the budget in six years?" Rangel shot back: "No."

On World News Tonight, Jackie Judd explored the latest on the John Huang front, noting the Republicans have asked if donors "were front men to donate money that came from illegal sources, and did large contributions influence foreign policy."

On the CBS Evening News Thursday, Dan Rather stated: "President Clinton's strategy to deal with the pre-election attacks is keep moving, change the subject and have aides handle damage control. Case in point: Questions about John Huang, the Democratic fundraiser with easy access to heavy money interests in Asia. It now turns out Huang also had much easier access to the White House itself than was previously disclosed."

Later in the show in a "Follow the Dollar" segment, a week after ABC did it, Linda Douglass examined John Huang's trail.

3) World News Tonight looked at why scandals don't damage Clinton and gave airtime to the liberal bias explanation. Peter Jennings introduced the October 31 story: "We have one additional report tonight on these many questions about the behavior, and in some cases the alleged behavior, of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton during these last few years. ABC's Jeff Greenfield tonight on what sticks and what doesn't and what may stick around."

Here's the end of Greenfield's piece:
"Among Republicans, one of the most popular explanations for Clinton's invulnerability is a liberal media bias. And at least one journalist thinks the critics may have a point. A forthcoming article in The American Lawyer magazine argues that Paula Jones' charges of sexual harassment against then-Governor Clinton are far more credible than those of Anita Hill against Judge Clarence Thomas. But the article's author says the Paula Jones case has been covered very differently."
Stuart Taylor, The American Lawyer magazine: "Imagine if Paula Jones or someone just like her made allegations, just like this, with evidence just like this, against Jesse Helms or Newt Gingrich." Greenfield: "If the polls are right all these charges will have very little impact on the election. But once the political season ends, they could cast giant cloud over a second Clinton term."

Indeed, though the American Lawyer piece has been out for a week, as far as I know this is the first network mention.

4) Five days before Americans vote CNN carried live coverage of TV talk show host Jenny Jones testifying in a Michigan murder trial instead of their daily politics show. CNN stayed with her past 4pm ET, the time for Inside Politics. She stepped down at about 4:20 and CNN carried Inside Politics a half hour late at 4:30pm.

- Brent Baker

5) The November 4 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Back issues can be read in the News section of the MRC web site: To subscribe by snail mail for $19, send an e-mail to MRC Circulation Manager Pete Reichel and he can send you a sample issue and order form:

November 4, 1996 (Vol. Nine; No. 23)

Gun to Our Heads
"Going into the homestretch, the campaign is taking on faint overtones of the old protection racket with Republicans increasingly sounding like the Capone gang, offering protection against Bugsy Clinton and his mob." - ABC's John Cochran on House GOP strategy, October 27 This Week introductory story.

The Bad News is Really Good, Good News Really Not
"The government reports today that the economy slowed down over the summer. The Gross Domestic Product, which measures all economic activity, was up 2.2 percent, but that is less than half the 4.7 percent growth in the second quarter. President Clinton who was campaigning in Michigan noted that many economists say a cooling off is necessary to keep inflation down and therefore, he thinks, the numbers were good news. Senator Dole on the other hand was in Tennessee earlier today, along with Mrs. Dole. He says the numbers are cause for concern. He went on to say if Mr. Clinton is re-elected there could be a recession." - ABC anchor Peter Jennings, October 30 World News Tonight. vs. Peter Jennings: "The [2.7 percent GDP] rate is more than economists had projected, but in many cases, less than meets the eye." Bob Jamieson: "The increase in economic growth was driven by a surge in consumer spending. The best news came from spending for big appliances and furniture, which rose by nearly nine percent. But many economists say the report is not proof the economy is taking a sharp turn for the better." - World News Tonight, October 27, 1992.

"The government is out with its final official report on economic growth before the election. And it indicates a dramatic slowdown. In the third quarter of the year the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 2.2 percent, that is less than half the growth rate of the second quarter. It didn't take long for the presidential candidates to put their own spins on today's economic numbers." - Dan Rather, Oct. 30 CBS Evening News. vs. "Just one week before the election and the Bush administration says the U.S. economy has turned the corner and started expanding again, but there is some doubt about the accuracy of the figures, and even if they are accurate, they may be too little too late to help President Bush because it was also announced today that consumer confidence in the economy continues to fall." - Rather on the October 27, 1992 CBS Evening News. The GDP figure was later revised upward to 3.9 percent for the 3rd quarter.

"The economy was slow, but steady going in the last quarter. Many economists were encouraged by that because it means inflation is under control and interest rates will stay low. But, Bob Dole has another vision." - Tom Brokaw, October 30 NBC Nightly News. vs. "The President [Bush] tonight finally has an economic number that he can brag about, but at the same time consumers were checking in today and they're yet to be persuaded that this economy is turning around." - Tom Brokaw, NBC Nightly News, October 27, 1992.

Relaying Democratic Spin as Fact
"To take back the House of Representatives the Democrats need 19 seats. And as of today it looks like they could win them. Democrats are taking special aim at the Republicans elected in 1994. They're endangered in part because their leader is so unpopular. With the help of millions of dollars from organized labor, Democratic challengers constantly remind voters that these freshmen supported Newt Gingrich and that together they shut down the government." - ABC's Cokie Roberts, October 18 World News Tonight.

Cheap Shot
"Which word are we talking about? The word to his first wife when he said, `Until death do us part?'" - CNN Talk Back Live host Susan Rook after the RNC's Ed Gillespie said Dole's "word is his bond." Quoted by Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, October 21.

NBC: No Big Deal, Republicans Just as Bad
"Perot barely mentioned Republican Bob Dole, even though he also accepts contributions from overseas." - Gwen Ifill on Perot's speech criticizing Clinton's illegal foreign donations, Oct. 24 NBC Nightly News.

"In a year when you talk about, corporations who give $25,000 chunks of money, why are people particularly outraged when people with last names like Cabrera and people from India and Korea and Indonesia and China all of a sudden get, there just seems to be a lot of foreigner bashing as a subtext in some of the criticism." - NBC News reporter Gwen Ifill on PBS's Washington Week in Review, October 25. Cabrera is now serving a 19-year sentence for smuggling 6,000 pounds of cocaine into the U.S.

"Beyond the tedium of the day to day campaigning, there's another much more alarming development this year - money. Huge amounts of money pouring into both parties, raising very serious questions about influence and conflict of interest." - Tom Brokaw opening the October 29 NBC Nightly News.

"Of course Republicans, including Bob Dole and Jesse Helms, have also tapped into foreign fundraising. And none of these investigations will produce answers until months, or years, after election day." - Andrea Mitchell concluding her October 29 NBC Nightly News story.

"On campaign finance, White House officials admit that both sides are dirty. The best defense: Republicans do it too." - Jim Miklaszewski, October 29 The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC.

Dole Was Okay When He Raised Taxes "Dole knows better. Columnist Matthew Miller has even fancifully suggested that the Senator's 15 percent tax cut proposal is really part of a secret Dole plan to have radical tax-cutting decisively repudiated at the polls. That way, the death of his political career can give life to the principle of fiscal responsibility that he devoted so many years of that career to advancing. If only." - Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, Oct. 21.

"One of the roles of a journalist is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. But after the debate ended, not one network news anchor or commentator noted the oddness of two presidential candidates hankering for tax handouts. Like Clinton and Dole, the anchors and television pundits earn more than 99 percent of all Americans. If those same TV commentators made say, $35,000 a year, they might have been more struck by Dole and Clinton's bantering." - U.S. News Senior Writer David Whitman, October 21.

"By 1985, Reagan's economics had plunged the country into debt. Dole's all-out fight to lower the deficit became the defining battle of his career." - Actress Blair Brown narrating Frontline on PBS, October 8.

"Just a year later, when he saw that supply-side economics had ballooned the deficit, Dole worked hard to raise government revenues by closing tax loopholes, and pushing through what was then the argest tax increase in history." - Ken Bode narrating "Bob Dole's Odyssey" in CNN's Democracy in America, Oct 20.

Charles Should Be In Charge
"Bob Dole is running around the country saying, `Where is the outrage?' Where is it? We now have the Democratic Party hiding this guy John Huang until after the election, who was out raising money. You've got rafts of big contributors all listing the same address, which is the Democratic national headquarters. Newsweek says you have the ambassador to Taiwan out there soliciting huge gifts from people, businessmen in Taiwan and you have Buddhist monks and nuns who have taken vows of poverty giving big amounts of money to the Democratic Party, and nobody seems to notice this. Somebody said the other day if the Republicans had done this the press would be killing them. Why are they getting away with this?" - ABC Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson to Bill Kristol and Cokie Roberts, October 29.

- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
- Geoffrey Dickens, Eugene Eliasen, Jim Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters, Media Analysts
- Kathy Ruff, Marketing Director; Peter Reichel, Circulation Manager; Joe Alfonsi, Intern

- Brent Baker