Networks AWOL For "Cold War II"

Impressive Week of China Story Developments, Including New Chinese Missile, Draws More TV Yawns

Friday's morning shows continued the pattern of avoidance in reporting the latest New York Times scoop on Chinese espionage, the Dong Feng missile. ABC's Good Morning America had two sentences, NBC's Today had two sentences, and CBS This Morning did nothing. Here's the last week of evasions:

May 7: The Los Angeles Times reported a preview of what Johnny Chung would tell the House Government Reform panel. Chung said he was told China had funneled $500,000 to ex-White House aide Mark Middleton's firm; that Charlie Trie approached the Chinese asking for $1 million to donate to the Democrats; and that Chung "escorted the wife and son of the Chinese military intelligence chief to a political fundraiser in Los Angeles in 1996 at which Democratic officials insisted on a $25,000 contribution for the opportunity to introduce his guests to the President." TV coverage? Zero.

May 9: On NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert forced Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to admit that espionage had occurred "During past administrations and present administrations." Network coverage? Zero, even though the admission made the front page of The Washington Times and The Boston Globe.

May 10: The New York Times expanded the story: "A scientist working on a classified Pentagon project in 1997 provided China with secrets about advanced radar tech- nology being developed to track submarines, according to court records and government documents. Submarine detection technology is jealously guarded by the Pentagon because the Navy's ability to conceal submarines is a crucial military advantage." The reporters added context: "The information about the radar technology, which is considered promising and has been in development for two decades, was divulged to Chinese nuclear-weapons experts during a two-hour lecture in Beijing in May 1997 by Peter Lee, an American scientist." They noted it shows the administration believed espionage was happening in Clinton's second term. Network coverage? Zero.

May 11: Chung testified about taking $300,000 from the chief of Chinese military intelligence. TV coverage? ABC and NBC aired evening stories, but CBS Evening News skipped it, as did all three morning shows the next day.

May 14: The New York Times reported: "China is close to deploying a nuclear missile with a warhead whose design draws on stolen Ameri-can secrets, [U.S.] intelligence officials say. A long-range Chinese missile, known as the Dong Feng-31, is being equipped with a small nuclear warhead whose design uses secret American technology, according to American intelligence assessments....'The DF-31 ICBM will give China a major strike capability that will be difficult to counterattack at any stage of its operation, from preflight mobile operations through the terminal flight phase,' [a] 1996 Air Force intelligence report predicted. The 'road mobility' of the DF-31, the report adds, 'will greatly improve Chinese nuclear ballistic missile survivability and will complicate the task of defeating the Chinese threat.'" This merits two sentences? - Tim Graham

For more, see our Special Report "All The News That's Fit to Skip: Network Apathy Toward Chinese Contributions and Espionage" at