CyberAlert -- October 24, 1996 -- Huang & Gandhi Ignored

Five items today:

1. Developments on the foreign citizen fundraising front continue, but TV network viewers don't hear anything about them. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported a major DNC donor had no money of his own to donate and a federal judge issued a subpoena for John Huang, now in hiding. None of the broadcast networks reported the first item; only one reported the second, but two found time to mention the sentencing of a Dole fundraiser.

2. NBC's Today on Wednesday reported nothing about the campaign during its two hour broadcast, but devoted a top of the show segment to a major crisis: Denial of toliet paper to Detroit public school students.

3. One Wednesday newspaper headline declared that Clinton is maintaining lead in California. Another the same day relayed that Dole and Republicans are catching up. test

4. Dole's not gaining in the polls, so what's to blame. A CBS reporter Wednesday morning suggested "that his harsh tactics may have backfired."

5. A wealthy Hollywood actor and producer identified, on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, what ails America: Too much concern about making money.

1) "$325,000 Gift to Democrats Raises New Set of Questions: Relative of Mahatma Gandhi Who Made Donation Say's he's Now in Debt. DNC Calls Money Legal." -- October 23 Los Angeles Times front page.

It's illegal for foreign citizens to contribute to U.S. campaigns, so the question in the case of Gandhi is whether his donation really came from foreign nations.

Keeping that in mind, here's the lead of the LA Times story: "The state of California says Yogesh K. Gandhi owes $10,000 in back taxes. His California driver's license has been revoked because he has failed to pay his traffic fines. Claiming pauper status, he did not pay the $20 filing fee for his divorce.
"Yet Gandhi...gave a hefty a hefty $325,000 to the Democratic National Committee....Gandhi emerged Tuesday as the latest in a series of campaign donors whose contributions are raising questions about the influence of foreign money in American politics. Like the others, Gandhi's contribution was handled by John Huang, the DNC fundraiser who brought in a series of six-figure donations, some of which have proven illegal or suspect."

Speaking of Huang, he went into hiding last week to avoid the media. On Wednesday, a federal judge issued a subpoena for him to appear.

How were these two developments reported Wednesday night? The LA Times story was not reported by any of the three evening shows -- not ABC's World Nes Tonight, CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News.

Only NBC Nightly News reported the subpoena for Huang. On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather noted, without offering any specifics, how the Clinton team were trying to ignore the foreign money angle and had asked the FEC to investigate. Eric Engberg then did a Reality Check on how it takes years for the FEC to complete an investigation.

But immediately after Engberg's piece, Dan Rather announced that Simon Fireman, a former Dole fundraiser, had been ordered to pay $6 million in fines for laundering money to avoid contribution limits. NBC's Tom Brokaw also mentioned Simon as he introduced a piece by Lisa Myers on soft money fundraising by both parties.

2) Thirteen days until the election, but on Wednesday Today couldn't find time for any mention of the campaign, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed. But Today devoted the second segment of the 7am half hour to a major crisis in Detroit: access to toilet paper in the schools.

Interviewing David Snead, superintendent of the Detroit schools, Bryant Gumbel became enraged at the new rules which restrict how much toilet paper students can use. He demanded: "Hang on one second! One second! I saw a quote, one second! David Snead I saw a quote from Charlie Fobbs. He is your Director of Housekeeping and Grounds for your school district. He said, his words, 'They need to teach them, the students, to use only the amount they need.' Isn't the matter of how much toilet paper one needs rather personal?"

Gumbel's latest definition of civil rights: Unlimited access to toilet paper. How long until Clinton proposes a federal "Equal Access to Toilet Paper Act"?

3) Two contrasting headlines from Wednesday October 23:
On the front page of the Los Angeles Times: "Clinton Keeping Solid Lead Over Dole in State"
On the front page of Investor's Business Daily: "California Vote Is Back in Play: Shrinking Gap in Polls Spurs a Heavy GOP Push"

4) On Wednesday's This Morning on CBS reporter Sandra Hughes offered her opinion of why Dole isn't catching up. As caught and transcribed by MRC analyst Steve Kaminski, this is how she concluded her October 23 story: "Dole criticized Clinton for raising taxes and breaking campaign promises. But over the past few days, his tough talking rhetoric has been noticeably toned down even though Dole won't admit that his harsh tactics may have backfired."

Maybe if the media didn't condemn as "harsh" every anti-Clinton comment made by Dole, his pointing out some of Clinton's character problems wouldn't have "backfired."

5) Starting this week and through election day, NBC Nightly News is running a series called "Fixing America" in which various leaders in different fields tell what they think should be done. Wednesday night's offerings included this from actor/producer Henry Winkler, aka "The Fonz" in Happy Days back in the 1970s:
"I think that we have to humanize America. I think that the worst thing that ever happened to this country was the quarterly report. The pride of process. The pride of what we do and the people who do it, the population, are being moved aside just so that we can show a profit three or four times a year. I think we're going to bottom line ouservelves into oblivion."

Remember that before you put any money down to buy a ticket to one of his future movies.

-- Brent Baker