Scandal Doesn't Sell to Soccer Moms

Johnny Chung Hearings, Babbitt Investigation, FBI China Probe Foul-Ups Ignored on Big Three

The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee held hearings yesterday on Johnny Chung, who gave $366,000 in suspicious donations to the Democrats and made 51 visits to the Clinton White House. Margaret Williams, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, was the primary witness. Chung plans to give testimony in closed session before the House committee today.

Also yesterday, the Justice Department announced an extension of its preliminary look into whether an independent counsel should be appointed to probe Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's decision to deny a Hudson, Wisconsin Chippewa Indian tribe a casino.

This morning, Washington Post investigator Bob Woodward revealed another embarrassing story on the haplessness of the Clinton Justice Department fundraising investigation. "The FBI has acknowledged overlooking key intelligence information gathered as far back as 1991 that investigators believe shows further Chinese efforts to buy political influence in the United States, senior U.S. government sources said yesterday." A "senior official" told Woodward the documents indicate that long-time Democratic fundraiser Maria Hsia was "doing the bidding" of Beijing as a Chinese agent. None of this punctured the Big Three networks last night or this morning. All four networks led with multiple stories on Iraq.

Evening news, November 13:

ABC's World News Tonight featured an FDA panel review of a new drug slowing hair loss for men, how a computer chip could tell you to buy more milk, and a story on Montana farmers giving away cattle to North Dakotans who lost their animals in the blizzard or flood.

CBS Evening News included an Eric Engberg piece on Seymour Hersh's book on JFK, and a piece on how a third of the police force in tiny Gothenburg, Nebraska are devoted to busting and fining teens caught with cigarettes.

NBC Nightly News covered the danger of airplane collisions on runways, and ended with two stories on an 11-year-old Minnesota boy with epilepsy, one on treat-ments and one on teaching dogs to warn of seizures.

Brooks Jackson covered the Chung hearing on CNN's The World Today: "House Republicans say it's a story of a Democratic White House for sale, but their star witness told a different version." Williams "painted Chung as a socially clumsy outsider with an almost schoolboy crush on the First Lady." Jackson added: "She said her staff found Chung an irritating nuisance and made fun of his halting English." Isn't this just the lack of sensitivity Sen. Sam Brownback supposedly showed in July? Then, ABC devoted a whole story to his broken English impression. CNN also carried a repeat brief on the story and an anchor brief on the Justice Department's Babbitt inquiry.

Morning shows, November 14:

ABC's Good Morning America noted the Iraq situation must be serious, since the White House pizza delivery count is way up.

CBSThis Morning talked with author Dominick Dunne about his O.J. Simpson book, and to Young and the Restless soap star Peter Bergman about making grilled chicken. The broadcast led with a Jim Axelrod report on a "deadly drug epidemic" of teen heroin use in Plano, Texas.

NBC's Today featured Bill Cosby, the TWA 800 crash probe, a Mir space station astronaut, the trial of an art teacher who had a teen student's baby, and tips on choo-sing the right sports bra. - Tim Graham and Brent Baker