CyberAlert -- 02/04/1997 -- Nets Play Catch-Up

MRC Alert: Nets Play Catch-Up; Broder from the Left; Clinton the Forgiver?

1. Monday night ABC and CBS aired Democratic fundraising stories highlighting information reported in newspapers weeks or months earlier.

2. Washington Post reporter David Broder's plea to the Governor of NH: "Are the kids not worth having a sales tax or an income tax?"

3. NBC's Today suggests that Bill Clinton is popular because he "forgives and accepts" the public's excesses and frailties.

1) The networks keep playing catch-up on Clinton scandals reported weeks or months ago in the print media. World News Tonight, which still hasn't uttered a syllable on the White House database story, Monday night devoted two pieces to Democratic fundraising. First, Linda Douglass reported how top Clinton aide Harold Ickes sent a memo to a potential donor suggesting how he direct his promised $5 million donation.

Second, John Donvan took viewers through the developing coffee meetings story. He noted: "Now there are questions about how some of the guests at these and other functions ever got through the White House gates. The Clinton administration appears to have dropped screening procedures used by the Reagan and Bush White Houses to keep the wrong sorts of people from getting in. People like Eric Wynn, a stock promoter reported this weekend to be linked to the Bonanno crime family and who served two years in prison for securities fraud. Others include, Wang Jun, one of China's leading arms merchants, Gregory Loutchansky, head of a company said to be tied to the Russian mafia. And Jorge Cabrera who was convicted of drug charges after contributing $20,00 to the Democratic Party..."

Not exactly groundbreaking revelations, except to ABC viewers. While World News Tonight did air a story on Cabrera last October, they ignored the others when uncovered by other outlets:
-- Eric Wynn's role was revealed in the February 1 Washington Post, but not reported by ABC that night.
-- Wang Jun's attendance became known on December 20 and Bill Clinton was asked about it at a press conference that day. World News Tonight: no story. On January 29 The Washington Times discovered that on the day Wang Jun visited the White House the man who helped him get a U.S. visa donated $50,000 to the DNC. World News Tonight: no story.
-- Gregory Loutchansky's attendance was uncovered by the Associated Press on November 3. World News Tonight: no mention.

On the CBS Evening News Monday night (February 3), Phil Jones offered a lengthy piece on John Huang's possible involvement in economic espionage as he got numerous top secret briefings and maintained his security clearance months after he left the Commerce Department. Of course, these charges weren't reported by CBS when raised in the January 16 Los Angeles Times and January 30 Washington Times.

Continuing its policy of shying away from Democratic scandal stories, Monday's NBC Nightly News didn't include a fundraising story.

2) Sunday's Meet the Press (February 2) featured the nation's two female Governors. Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey are from different parties, but Washington Post reporter David Broder pressed them both from the same platform -- a liberal one.
Broder's first question: "Governor Shaheen, you've said that you want kindergarten available for every child in your state. And you're proposing to finance it with higher cigarette taxes and more gambling in the state. I guess you have to do that because you've locked yourself away from calling for any sales tax or income tax in New Hampshire. Are the kids not worth having a sales tax or an income tax?"
Broder's second question: "Governor Whitman, welfare, big issue for Governors and you've won the big battle because you now are in control of it. I noticed in one of the news stories about your new budget that you're proposing to cut county welfare authorities by ten million dollars. Those are the folks who actually deal face to face with welfare clients. Now they are supposed to be the ones who help move those people off welfare, into jobs. Why in the world would you be cutting their money?"

Note it's "their" money, not the taxpayer's.

Broder's third question went again to Whitman: "I read in the paper this morning that you had backed off now on asking Congress to re-open the welfare bill to take care of legal immigrants, who they are now cutting off. Why would you back off of that?"

You get the idea. But Broder isn't the only Post staffer upset by welfare reform. E.J. Dionne, a former New York Times and Washington Post reporter who now pens a column for the Post, asserted in his January 31 offering:
"Mary Jo Bane, an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services until she quit, rightly thought the President was wrong in signing the welfare 'reform' bill. She described the problem well in an interview with Post reporters Judith Havemann and Barbara Vobejda: 'Poor people tend to be concentrated in certain areas of states that don't have the resources to take care of them.'"
Dionne's answer: "If we were serious about welfare reform," he argued, "we'd have the federal government put up the money required to support our poorest families and to create jobs," and "we'd funnel some money" to voluntary and church groups.

3) Tuesday night President Clinton will deliver his State of the Union address. As you observe how the television network commentators analyze his speech, see if any top a bit of network veneration noticed by MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens. The day before the Inauguration, on the January 19 Today show, NPR's Scott Simon explained Clinton's popularity:
"It might fit better to see President Clinton as a 1950's American car salesmen. Selling image as much as engines. Saying, 'If you don't like blue I can sell you tan. And if you don't like tan I'll call it Aztec Gold.' And like all great salesmen a man who believes that the torch can be passed in a handshake. [video of young Clinton meeting John F. Kennedy] Now just two years ago the public wasn't buying Bill Clinton's product line. But then the new Speaker committed the classic mistake of success. He expanded too fast. Declaring a revolution instead of a simple victory. Capturing control of the government only to shut it down. Whatever you feel about Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton as political leaders which man would most Americans choose to sit next to on the long bus trip? The man who prattles on about putting a supercomputer in every lap or the one who can talk about both Helmut Kohl and Heartbreak Hotel..."
Simon picked up a minute later: "As he begins his second term you may lament that President Clinton leaves little eloquence. But in an age of focus groups and consultants saying, 'Keep it short. Don't take sides,' few politicians do. He faces personal charges about his conduct in a motel bedroom. And ethical allegations about opening the Lincoln bedroom to the highest contributor. But you come back to the fact that if Bill Clinton isn't always trusted he has twice been entrusted by the largest responsibility we have to bestow by voters who can have few illusions. Instead they seem to trust that as President Clinton displays his own excesses and frailties he forgives and accepts ours too. This is Scott Simon."

I'm trying to choke back my tears now that I know he feels my pain. And forgives it.

-- Brent Baker