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MediaWatch: June 29, 1998

Vol. Twelve No. 10

Keeping Quiet on Clinton's China Trip

Networks Provide Silence on Fundraising, Missile Scoops

Isn't arming a communist nation with missile technology and accepting donations from communist military officials worth a few minutes of network air time? President Clinton left for China with very little media emphasis on his China scandals - either the illegal campaign contributions or the waivers for satellite technology. Since June 5, the networks offered almost nothing on developments reported by newspapers.

The only TV updates on the missile scandal came on June 11. CNN's Wolf Blitzer and NBC's Claire Shipman alluded to that day's Washington Post report by John Mintz on how a newly inaugurated Clinton dropped his campaign pledge and endorsed Bush's policy of allowing satellite deals "despite evidence that China had sold ballistic missile parts to Pakistan, declassified White House documents show." Also ignored:

June 13: New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth found: "For the past two years, China's military has relied on American-made satellites sold for civilian purposes to transmit messages to its far-flung army garrisons, according to highly classified intelligence reports. The reports are the most powerful evidence to date that the American government knew that China's army was taking advantage of the Bush and Clinton administrations' decisions to encourage sales of technology to Asian companies."

June 16: Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz found: "China is discussing sales of missile test equipment to Iran and is helping Libya develop its own missile program... The reports contradict administration claims that Beijing has improved its record on weapons proliferation."

June 18: Gerth reported in The New York Times that the U.S. was backing down on a large satellite deal due to "American intelligence reports about Shen Rongjun, the Chinese Army General who oversees his country's military satellite programs...In an unusual arrangement, Hughes Space and Communications hired General Shen's son, a dual citizen of Canada and China, to work on the project as a manager... Father and son were both directly involved in the project, and American officials said the intelligence reports said the General was pressing his son to move it forward."

June 20: The Washington Post relayed another allegation from Johnny Chung, that Democratic officials knew they were accepting illegal Chinese money. At least that disclosure generated a CNN story, but just 19 seconds on the CBS Evening News and nothing on ABC and NBC.