Coverage of allegations China funneled money to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton presidential campaign in 1996 was much more skeptical and much less vigorous than the Trump-Russia probe, even if the advent of digital media is taken into account.
National Review’s John Fund argued in a column that the lukewarm response from establishment media when Clinton was accused of colluding financially and politically with China should call into question the motivations behind the media’s current crusade against Trump.
Is it a matter of truth and justice? Or do partisan politics guide editorial judgment in these massive newsrooms?
“According to an analysis by the Media Research Center, the news coverage of the congressional hearings on the China scandal in the summer of 1997 were dwarfed by reports on the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace and the death of Princess Diana” writes Fund.
Despite the fundraising scandal leading to the guilty pleas of 22 people, including Clinton fundraisers and friends, the media failed to uncover all the answers, making possible “a major cover-up of that scandal” that “many people still believed worked.”
Fund writes that “Network reporters expressed outright skepticism of the story, with many openly criticizing the late senator Fred Thompson, the chair of the Senate investigating committee, for wasting time and money.” In June of 1997, then co-anchor of the “Today” show Katie Couric, asked legendary Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward about the coverage.
“Are members of the media, do you think, Bob, too scandal-obsessed, looking for something at every corner?” she asked.
In 1998, The Washington Post reported that “federal surveillance intercepts” compiled evidence showing the “Chinese government planned to increase China’s influence in the U.S. political process” during the 1996 presidential campaign. That same year, A report from the Senate Government Affairs Committee found “strong circumstantial evidence” that foreign money illegally entered the country in an effort to influence the 1996 presidential election.
In 1999, the Clinton administration approved the sale of “sensitive U.S. missile technology” to China, after large donations from a key missile manufacturer were made between 1994 and 1998 to the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
The approval was made less than a week after a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence determined that “lax monitoring of the launching of American-made satellites aboard Chinese rockets had enhanced the accuracy of China’s ballistic missile arsenal.”
The DNC was forced to return more than $2.8 million in ill-gotten funds from foreign nationals.
Fund notes that this doesn’t mean the media should not vigorously pursue the Trump-Russia probe.
“But a little humility and honesty on the part of the media would be appropriate. Much of the breathless and constant coverage of the Russia scandal is motivated by the media’s hatred of Donald Trump, which is of course reciprocated.”
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