Cheers for Clinton Relaxing "Tensions"

News Magazines Join Networks in Ignoring Clinton's China Scandals As He Kisses Chinese Rings

China's illegal contributions to the Democrats and their exploitation of Clinton-approved satellite launches for military technology have been deemed non-news by the national media during the President's trip to China. With one NBC exception on June 24 as Clinton left, the networks have failed to air a full story on the scandals. Although their Friday and Saturday deadlines meant they'd witness only the first pieces of Clinton's trip, the news magazines made no attempt to add any China scandal news to the context of the Clinton trip and U.S.-China relations:

U.S. News & World Report ran three pages on Kodak's business in China. Owner Mortimer Zuckerman used his back-page editorial to praise Clinton's trip.

Time ran two pages of pictures and four paragraphs of prose on pages 66 and 67 with the subheadline: "Pretty pictures of a changing China were supposed to support Clinton's policy of engagement, but China's leaders are still struggling to master the intricacies of global propaganda." The magazine's only mention of scandal was Jiang's denial ("without prompting") that China contributed to the Democrats. Jay Branegan concluded by noting the Chinese decided to broadcast the joint Jiang Zemin/Clinton press conference live, which went 40 minutes over the allotted time: "After decades of tensions, China and America still seem to need all the time they can get."

Time's Notebook section blithely papered over the arrests of dissidents. Under a drawing of Clinton in a Mao jacket holding up dollars, the caption read: "In China, Clinton wants more trade, more respect for human rights and more happy pictures of him sightseeing. The Chinese are happy to play host to him; two out of three ain't bad."

Newsweek ignored Clinton critics and underlined pro-Clinton sentiment with a commentary from dissident Wang Dan: "A gulag veteran appraises Clinton's mission." In four photo-dominated pages, reporter Steven Strasser noted Chinese promises to "strengthen their efforts to halt the spread of chemical and biological weapons. And Beijing agreed to allow U.S. monitors to make sure China does not cheat on sensitive trade deals: the monitors will help certify that American high-tech goods sold to Chinese civilians are not diverted to military uses."

Strasser made no mention of the June 24 New York Times story that China barred American monitors from a previous rocket crash site: "When the Americans finally reached the area and opened the battered but intact control box of the satellite, a supersecret encoded circuit board was missing." That hardly reflects positively on Chinese promises.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter trashed GOP demands Clinton postpone a trip until "they finish investigating the still-unproven satellite and money allegations...In China, this was viewed by party hacks and dissidents alike as American lunacy. House Republicans would derail U.S.-China relations and raise global tensions just for a chance to stir-fry Clinton politically? Apparently so." If Clinton had been forced to wait for the networks and news magazines to get to the bottom of the China scandals, he might have died of old age before leaving for Beijing. - Tim Graham