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To Lauer's Dismay, DeLay Condemns Media's Scandal Double Standard --8/31/2007


1. To Lauer's Dismay, DeLay Condemns Media's Scandal Double Standard
Thursday morning on NBC's Today show, Tom DeLay blasted Matt Lauer for the "amazing" double standard in pouncing on GOP scandals while ignoring Democratic ones and, two days after Today convicted conservatives of hypocrisy over Larry Craig, Ann Curry had the gall to fret about "a rush to judgment" on him. After Lauer recited a list of Republican scandals, the former House Majority Leader exclaimed: "The double standard in the media is amazing. The feeding frenzy, the sharks in the water that's going on right now because of a Republican. Where is the frenzy on Alan Mollohan from West Virginia or William Jefferson from Louisiana?" Lauer insisted "there was an awful lot of coverage of William Jefferson when that story broke," but DeLay countered: "Yeah, for just a couple of days and then we went on." When DeLay repeated how there's a "double standard in the media," an appalled Lauer fired back: "I'm not going to let it end with that assumption, Congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it." DeLay retorted: "You exhibited it, Matt!" Today's on-screen heading throughout the interview: "Craig's Crisis: The Last Straw for the GOP?"

2. NBC Uniquely Highlights Hillary Clinton's Hsu Fundraising Scandal
NBC on Thursday night became the first broadcast network to air a story on the Clinton presidential campaign scandal over donations from Norman Hsu, a fugitive from a grand theft charge who is also suspected of illegally funneling excess donations through another family. Lisa Myers noted how Hsu has "given a quarter of a million dollars to a who's who of Democratic candidates in the last three years....The Clinton campaign initially defended Hsu, listed on her campaign honor roll as a man of integrity. Today the Senator said she's giving his $23,000 in donations to charity." Over video of a small, lime-colored house, Myers also relayed how "questions also have been raised about big donations Hsu raised for Senator Clinton from others, some seemingly of modest means. This house in California is one of Clinton's biggest sources of campaign cash. Campaign records indicate that six members of a family listed at this address have given Clinton $45,000 since 2005." Myers concluded by recalling an earlier scandal much of the media were reluctant at the time to pursue: "It resurrects images of campaign finance scandals during her husband's presidency, of Johnny Chung handing over a $50,000 check in the First Lady's office..."

3. Ex-Clinton Aide Stephanopoulos Touts Book by Chelsea's Boyfriend
On Thursday's Good Morning America, guest co-host George Stephanopoulos's close ties to the Clinton administration were again on display when the ABC anchor interviewed the ex-boyfriend of Chelsea Clinton about his new book, Elvis Is Titanic, on the subject of teaching American history in Iraq. Just last month on GMA, Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, gave a softball interview to Kristin Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore. Stephanopoulos introduced author Ian Klaus by glowingly announcing: "Some people might be watching today and saying, 'You know, I've seen him somewhere before. I've heard his name before.' And that's because you were actually dating Chelsea Clinton when you went to Iraq."


To Lauer's Dismay, DeLay Condemns Media's
Scandal Double Standard

Thursday morning on NBC's Today show, Tom DeLay blasted Matt Lauer for the "amazing" double standard in pouncing on GOP scandals while ignoring Democratic ones and, two days after Today convicted conservatives of hypocrisy over Larry Craig, Ann Curry had the gall to fret about "a rush to judgment" on him. After Lauer recited a list of Republican scandals, the former House Majority Leader exclaimed: "The double standard in the media is amazing. The feeding frenzy, the sharks in the water that's going on right now because of a Republican. Where is the frenzy on Alan Mollohan from West Virginia or William Jefferson from Louisiana?" Lauer insisted "there was an awful lot of coverage of William Jefferson when that story broke," but DeLay countered: "Yeah, for just a couple of days and then we went on." When DeLay repeated how there's a "double standard in the media," an appalled Lauer fired back: "I'm not going to let it end with that assumption, Congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it." DeLay retorted: "You exhibited it, Matt!" Today's on-screen heading throughout the interview: "Craig's Crisis: The Last Straw for the GOP?"

Tuesday's Today had convicted conservatives and Republicans of hypocritical wrongdoing in the Craig matter -- Lauer opened by asking: "Can the right-wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?" and Ann Curry soon wondered "how does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party?" -- but on Thursday, Curry devoted an interview segment with Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra to decrying the "rush to judgment." She challenged the Congressman from Michigan: "You called for Senator Craig's resignation just two days after this scandal broke. You were the first. Why is this not a rush to judgment, sir?"

(For more on how Today framed the story on Tuesday morning, check the August 29 CyberAlert item, "NBC: Craig a 'Conservative Crisis,' Another 'Right Wing' Scandal," online at: www.mediaresearch.org )

Later in the day Thursday on MSNBC's Hardball, NewsBusters blogger Mark Finkelstein noticed, when DeLay reiterated his charge against the media, Chris Matthews conceded, barely, DeLay's accuracy: "You have a case to make. Sometimes." DeLay promised that if Craig is guilty, "I do know that the Republicans will do something about it. I do know that if he were a Democrat they would rally around him and they would not do something about it. I do know that the national media is incredibly biased against Republicans that find themselves [in trouble]-" Matthews cut him off: "That's a charge which I've heard before and I can understand why you make it. You make it a lot and sometimes, you know, you have a case to make. Sometimes."

The MRC's Matthew Balan corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide a transcript of the August 30 Today show segments in the 7am half hour:

ANN CURRY: Well, Representative Pete Hoekstra from Michigan was the first congressional Republican to call for Senator Craig's resignation. Congressman, good morning.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN (via satellite from Grand Rapids): Hey, good morning.
CURRY: You called for Senator Craig's resignation just two days after this scandal broke. You were the first. Why is this not a rush to judgment, sir?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I mean, as was mentioned in the highlight up to this conversation, Senator Craig pled guilty. This is not about he has been charged with certain activities. He pled guilty in court to some pretty ugly activities.
CURRY: He said actually that it was a mistake that he pled guilty. He said that the only thing he did wrong was plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct. He said it was an over-reaction to stress because he was the victim of what he called a "witch hunt" by a newspaper. Now, why don't you buy that?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I've seen his defense. If Senator Craig now wants to go back and attempt to clear his name, he has every opportunity to do that. But he should do that outside of the United States Senate. The important thing is we need to maintain the integrity of the United States Senate, of the institution of Congress. I mean, we are 18 to 20% approval ratings, and this is one of the reasons why. That when these types of things happen in Congress, it appears that there are no consequences. That's unacceptable to the American people.
CURRY: You are calling for consequences. And we've also heard, as we heard in this last report, that John McCain and also Norm Coleman are also saying that they are highly critical of this situation. However, interestingly, Democrats have adopted a very different attitude. The attitude is more sort of more wait and see. Christopher Dodd saying that Craig should get a chance to tell his side of the story. And Congressman Barney Frank, who is openly gay, calling Craig, saying that he's a hypocrite on gay rights issues, but does not think that he should resign. So, Americans are going to wonder if this is just politics. And so the question is: Is your call for Craig's resignation politically-motivated?
HOEKSTRA: No. I think that this is clearly about the institution. The senator broke his trust with the people of Idaho, but also with his colleagues, and the U.S. Congress, and with the American people at large, and with his colleagues in the Republican party. Politicians should live to a higher standard, and if there are no consequences to this type of behavior, these types of activities, the American people will once again say, there they go. The people in Washington believe that they don't have to live to the same standards that we live to in the rest of America. The American people want politicians who live up to higher standards and expectations. Being in the U.S. Senate is one of the, should be one of the most respected and responsible positions in the world!
CURRY: If Senator Craig continues to fight to keep his job, could you foresee that he might be censured?
HOEKSTRA: Well again, that will be a responsibility of the Ethics Committee in the U.S. Senate. One of the problems we have in the institution again is that the ethics committees in both the House and the Senate have been dysfunctional for a long period of time. They have been unable to hold the members of Congress accountable for their behavior.
CURRY: Representative Pete Hoekstra, thanks so much this morning.
HOEKSTRA: Good, thank you.

Today then jumped to what became Lauer's contentious session with DeLay, who appeared via satellite from Houston:

MATT LAUER: By all accounts, these are some tough times for the Republican party. Last fall, Democrats took control of both houses of Congress, largely because of opposition to the war in Iraq. In 2006, the Republican party was also hit with distracting scandals involving Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails to male congressional pages, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff's corruption case, that brought down several prominent Republican Congressmen. This year, the phone number of Republican senator David Vitter turned up in the records of a Washington, DC escort service, and now, recent polls show voters prefer a Democrat over a Republican by 51 to 27%, and at least one poll found the most popular choice among Republican presidential candidates is "none of the above." The question now: can any of the damage be reversed? Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay served in Congress for 22 years and knows personally how scandals can impact a party. He's also the author of a new book called No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight. Tom DeLay, Congressman, good morning.
TOM DELAY: Good morning, Matt.
LAUER: So, I went through a litany there, and maybe I should start by stepping back. We've got two members out of 49 Republican Senators in office right now embroiled in controversy. So, do we have a party embroiled in scandal or do we have two bad apples?
DELAY: Well, I hate to say this Matt, but you just showed the problem, the double-standard, and you just participated in it. You listed a whole lot of scandals that involve the Republicans, but you didn't mention one Democrat.
LAUER: But you didn't hear me. I also just said do we only have two bad apples or is there a case of an entire party embroiled in scandal?
DELAY: I think in your premise, if you had listed all the Democrats that are having problems right now, it would have been different. You see the Democrats re-elect the people with their problems. Republicans kick them out. If you look at what's going on, it's how you handle it as a party and as a political group. You have right now, Alan Mollohan, a Congressman from West Virginia, who is being investigated by the FBI, and the Democrats have kept him on as chairman of the committee that has oversight of the budget of the FBI. You have William Jefferson-
LAUER: So, you're saying it's a positive thing. Is it a positive thing that the Republicans do this, they weed out immediately?
DELAY: You don't want me to finish it? Because you don't want me to-
LAUER: No, no go ahead.
DELAY: Well, you have William Jefferson caught with $90,000 of marked bills in a freezer. And they did put him of the Ways and Means Committee, but they put him on a highly-sensitive Homeland Security Committee. You have Barney Frank, who was caught with a homosexual prostitute who was re-elected over and over again. Gerry Studds who was caught in a bathroom with an under-aged page and he was re-elected.
LAUER: So, why are people like McCain and Norm Coleman and Mitt Romney immediately distancing themselves from Larry Craig? And let me ask you this -- as someone who has seen personal scandal yourself, and knows what it can do -- when you look back in hindsight, knowing how this of thing plays out in the news cycle -- if you could talk to Larry Craig right now, what advice would you give him?
DELAY: Well, first of all, it's really unfortunate that people rush to judgment like they have. I'm not defending Larry Craig. I have great sympathy for what his wife and his family are going through right now. But the decisions that Larry Craig need to make are up to Larry Craig and his constituents in Idaho. But it takes us off our message, and I grant you that. It takes us off the fact that we are winning in the war in Iraq; that the President is going to stop the Democrats from raising taxes and increasing spending; that we desperately need border security in this country. We need to be talking about those kind of things, rather than this.
LAUER: And we've heard some very public statements, as I just mentioned, from John McCain and Norm Coleman and Congressman Hoekstra there a second ago. If Larry Craig decides to -- as your book title, No Retreat, No Surrender -- stay and fight, ok. What other ways, more subtle ways, do members of his own party -- and from your own experience -- start to deliver the message that it's not going to work?
DELAY: Well, I know Larry Craig, and I think he will make the right decision, that benefits him and his family, and his constituents in Idaho. But if you're not guilty of something, you should fight-
LAUER: But he pled guilty?
DELAY: But then he said he made the wrong decision in doing that. I'm not going to get into the specifics of what he has done. He didn't handle it very well. That's obvious.
LAUER: Given the situation in Washington right now, Congressman, I mean, can Larry Craig pull a Trent Lott? Can he duck under the radar for a while, and give up a powerful position, stay out of the spotlight for a while, and come back, make a comeback?
DELAY: I have no idea, Matt. You asked me to come on to talk about the GOP and politics, not about this man's personal life. Whatever decision he makes, I think it will be the right decision. The point here, though, is the Republicans handle it. They look at it, and when the evidence is right on that someone is guilty, they do something about it. On the other hand, the Democrats don't. And the media, the double-standard in the media is amazing. The feeding frenzy, the sharks in the water that's going on right now because of a Republican. Where is the frenzy on Alan Mollohan from West Virginia or William Jefferson from Louisiana?
LAUER: I think you mentioned William Jefferson. There was an awful lot of coverage of William Jefferson when that story broke, Congressman.
DELAY: Yeah, for just a couple of days and then we went on. In the case of a Republican, believe me, I've experienced this, it's day in and day out in the media, and they write this story over and over and over again. We all know the double-standard in the media. It's amazing.
LAUER: Well, I'm not going to let it, you know, end with that assumption, Congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it, but why don't we just say-
DELAY: You exhibited it, Matt!
LAUER: But you know what, Congressman? I think it's unfair. Because I listed a list of problems and then immediately-
DELAY: All Republicans.
LAUER: Well, we're talking about the Republican party. You just said, I invited you on to talk about the GOP.
DELAY: Because you don't want to talk about the Democrats.
LAUER: So, that's exactly what I started with-
DELAY: Because you don't want to talk about the Democrats.
LAUER: And I also, Congressman, started and then said, 'Is this a misperception, that there is a party embroiled in scandal, when we may just have two bad apples?' That's exactly how I started my first question.
DELAY: No, you started the first question by listing a bunch of Republicans and didn't mention one Democrat.
LAUER: Because we're talking-
DELAY: About the situation that's going on in Washington today, and including both Democrats and Republicans. There are scandals that need to be addressed. Republicans address them, Democrats re-elect them.
LAUER: Alright Congressman, I'll let you have the last word. It's good to have you on.
DELAY: Thank you. Thank you.

NBC Uniquely Highlights Hillary Clinton's
Hsu Fundraising Scandal

NBC on Thursday night became the first broadcast network to air a story on the Clinton presidential campaign scandal over donations from Norman Hsu, a fugitive from a grand theft charge who is also suspected of illegally funneling excess donations through another family. While ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News, as well as the NBC Nightly News, found time for a third straight night of coverage of Larry Craig's travails, only NBC caught up with FNC and CNN and highlighted the fundraising irregularities involving Democrats. Lisa Myers noted how Hsu has "given a quarter of a million dollars to a who's who of Democratic candidates in the last three years. But Hsu is also a fugitive, wanted in California in connection with a 1991 fraud case. The Clinton campaign initially defended Hsu, listed on her campaign honor roll as a man of integrity. Today the Senator said she's giving his $23,000 in donations to charity."

Over video of a small, lime-colored house in Dale City, California, Myers also relayed how "questions also have been raised about big donations Hsu raised for Senator Clinton from others, some seemingly of modest means. This house in California is one of Clinton's biggest sources of campaign cash. Campaign records indicate that six members of a family listed at this address have given Clinton $45,000 since 2005 and a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates." Myers concluded by recalling an earlier scandal much of the media were reluctant at the time to pursue: "It resurrects images of campaign finance scandals during her husband's presidency, of Johnny Chung handing over a $50,000 check in the First Lady's office and donors sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom."

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Back in 1996 and 1997, the Washington press corps wasn't all that excited about the Clinton campaign's 1996 fundraising, as recounted in the MRC's MediaWatch newsletter:

# From the November 1996 MediaWatch, "A Continuing Pattern of Omission: Networks Send Voters to the Polls Without Much Mention of Clinton Newspaper Scoops." It began:
"Six days after the election, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz noted that several print media outlets had pieces of the Democratic National Committee's foreign fundraising in hand, but didn't think they had enough for a major story -- until the pieces came together in the person of John Huang in October. Just as MediaWatch found last month, front-page newspaper scoops failed to attract much network interest or intensity, even in the final days of the campaign. A MediaWatch review of October morning (ABC, CBS, NBC) and evening news coverage (ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN's The World Today) found the networks were slow or missing in action on critical campaign stories in the last few weeks before the election."

For the entire article: www.mediaresearch.org

# From the March 1997 MediaWatch, "TV Fundraising Coverage in February Skips Major Developments that Might Not 'Resonate.'" See: www.mediaresearch.org

# From the May 1997 MediaWatch, "Networks Bail Out of Fundraising Scandal Coverage in Mid-March, Go AWOL in April." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# From the July 1997 MediaWatch, "Hearings? What Hearings? Networks Skip Not Only Live Coverage, But Also Evening News Summaries." Go to: www.mediaresearch.org

# From August 1997 MediaWatch, "Networks Explore Every Stitch of Versace Murder, But Thompson Hearing Angles Ignored." Go to: www.mediaresearch.org

# From the October 1997 MediaWatch, "Frenzy Over Princess Diana's Death Buries Senate Fundraising Hearing Coverage." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# From the November 1997 MediaWatch, "Media Also Have Boasting Rights: Chinese Intelligence Brags of 'Thwarting' Thompson Hearings." Go to: www.mediaresearch.org

Amongst other cable shows, CNN's Situation Room and FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume have offered coverage this week of the Hsu story, prompted by a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article on Hsu's bundling of questionable donations followed by a Wednesday front page Los Angeles Times story, "Democratic fundraiser is a fugitive in plain sight," which revealed how he's been a fugitive from San Mateo County, California for 15 years over charges related to an import scheme involving latex gloves. August 29 LA Times story: www.latimes.com

Not even a Thursday New York Times story, "Clinton Donor Under a Cloud in Fraud Case," led the other networks, however, to pick up on the scandal. August 30 New York Times article: www.nytimes.com

Often, MSNBC's Countdown runs the investigative pieces from Myers aired on Nightly News, but on Thursday night, not surprisingly, Keith Olbermann passed on the opportunity. MSNBC.com page for the NBC News "Investigative Unit" led by Myers (Hsu story not yet posted there as of late Thursday night): www.msnbc.msn.com

A transcript of the story on the August 30 NBC Nightly News which I created by correcting the closed-captioning against the video of what aired:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Hillary Clinton is in the news tonight, having nothing to do with her standing in the early race for President. This story, instead, has to do with financing that run for President. Specifically, a big donor with a problem in his past and money that has now been turned away. That story tonight from our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers.

LISA MYERS: He is one of Hillary Clinton's biggest fundraisers. Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman, who's given a quarter of a million dollars to a who's who of Democratic candidates in the last three years. But Hsu is also a fugitive, wanted in California in connection with a 1991 fraud case [zoom in on Aug. 29 LA Times headline]. The Clinton campaign initially defended Hsu, listed on her campaign honor roll as a man of integrity. Today the Senator said she's giving his $23,000 in donations to charity.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: When you have as many contributors as I'm fortunate enough to have, we do the very best job we can based on the information available to us to make appropriate vetting decisions and this one was a big surprise to everybody.
MYERS: But questions also have been raised about big donations Hsu raised for Senator Clinton from others, some seemingly of modest means. This house in California is one of Clinton's biggest sources of campaign cash [video of small, rundown lime-colored house]. Campaign records indicate that six members of a family listed at this address have given Clinton $45,000 since 2005 and a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates.
FRED WERTHEIMER, ETHICS REFORM ADVOCATE: Well, this raises questions whether campaign contributions have been laundered here. And it's a matter that does need to be investigated.
MYERS: NBC News was not able to reach the family for comment. Hsu's lawyer insists he's done nothing wrong in raising campaign money. Hsu said he was surprised to learn there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest and would not purposely evade his legal obligations. No one has alleged any wrongdoing by the Clinton campaign. Other candidates also have had embarrassments with donors. Obama, Edwards, Romney, and Giuliani have returned donations.
CHARLIE COOK, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Any hint of impropriety just hurts Senator Clinton more than any of the other candidates just because of past history.
MYERS: It resurrects images of campaign finance scandals during her husband's presidency, of Johnny Chung handing over a $50,000 check in the First Lady's office and donors sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom. Today Senator Clinton said there is no similarity. Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.

Ex-Clinton Aide Stephanopoulos Touts
Book by Chelsea's Boyfriend

On Thursday's Good Morning America, guest co-host George Stephanopoulos's close ties to the Clinton administration were again on display when the ABC anchor interviewed the ex-boyfriend of Chelsea Clinton about his new book, Elvis Is Titanic, on the subject of teaching American history in Iraq. Just last month on GMA, Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, gave a softball interview to Kristin Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore.

In that segment, the GMA substitute host misleadingly characterized the drug arrest of Albert Gore III as getting "in trouble speeding." The Vice President's daughter also joked that she modeled a character in her new novel about Washington politics after Stephanopoulos. He gushed over the novelist: "If I was pitching this in Hollywood, and I've read most of the book, I would say it's 'Bridget Jones' meets 'Primary Colors.'" See the July 11 CyberAlert item, "Stephanopoulos Gushes Over Kristin Gore's Novel, online at: www.mrc.org

During the Thursday segment, Stephanopoulos introduced author Ian Klaus by glowingly announcing: "Some people might be watching today and saying, 'You know, I've seen him somewhere before. I've heard his name before.' And that's because you were actually dating Chelsea Clinton when you went to Iraq."

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A partial transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:35am on August 30:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, some people might be watching today and saying, "You know, I've seen him somewhere before. I've heard his name before." And that's because you were actually dating Chelsea Clinton when you went to Iraq.
KLAUS: Yeah.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you actually tell this story in the book about how the National Enquirer was trying to track you down.
KLAUS: They did track me down. It was an incredible piece of reporting and I prefer to think of it as a story-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good reporting by the National Enquirer?
KLAUS: Well, I mean, just to actually get through. I had no mail. I had never gotten a telephone call from my family or from my then girlfriend during the time. And yet, this National Enquirer reporter managed to get through. He didn't run the story actually out of respect for my security, so, to his credit. But it was an incredible story of globalization. I mean, here is a tabloid at home that is connecting to government in Iraq.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you and Chelsea are not together anymore. But you did dedicate the book to her?
KLAUS: And to my mom, but also to her. Yeah, both of them, my mother and Chelsea were incredibly supportive of this venture of teaching American history and English and of writing the book.

A Thursday USA Today article about Bill Clinton's endorsement of Ian Klaus' book: www.usatoday.com

-- Brent Baker