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Lawmakers Blast Media for Ignoring Gore's Russia-Iran Deal

Wednesday, 01 November 2000 12:00 AM

Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, accused most of the major media, including the TV networks, of virtually ignoring reports that the vice president acted unilaterally and, critics say, unconstitutionally, in agreeing to wink at Russian weapons sales to the Iranians and to keep the information from Congress.

Joining DeLay in a colloquy on the issue was Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who speaks fluent Russian and has visited that country many times. Weldon said the whole history of the Clinton-Gore post-Cold War policies on Russia was a story of abject failure.

Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., declared the silence of the television networks on the 1995 Gore Iranian agreement with then Russian Prime Minister Victor S. Chernomyrdin "has been deafening."

Congressman Weldon said some Democrats might assume Republicans were just trying to bear down on the vice president a few days before the election. But he pointed out that the story first landed on the front page of the New York Times Oct. 13, the implication being that the Times is a liberal establishment paper and not exactly a bastion of "right-wing conservatism."

Then it was picked up with additional details a few days later by ace national security reporter Bill Gertz of the Washington Times and appeared in a few other outlets. But the major television networks have given the story scant notice, and usually even then implying that the whole thing is election-year politics.

One night, for example, ABC’s Peter Jennings gave the story all of 17 seconds.

Conservatives in and out of Congress have bitterly noted the contrast with the heavy play the TV networks gave the Iran-Contra and "Iraqgate" stories on the eve of the 1992 election when President George Bush, father of the current GOP presidential candidate, was seeking a second term in the White House. He was defeated by Bill Clinton.

The Iraqgate story, with charges that President Bush had been soft on Saddam Hussein before the Persian Gulf War, faded off the radar screen after the election, having been branded by Republicans as phony.

As for Iran-Contra, President Bush, during his lame duck days at the White House, pardoned all those who had been caught up in it, with little protest from then President-elect Clinton, who apparently concluded that the uproar in the media on this matter had served its purpose.

In the current scandal, three House committee chairmen have demanded the administration provide documents relating to Vice President Gore’s deal with the Russians.

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Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, accused most of the major media, including the TV networks, of virtually ignoring reports that the vice president acted unilaterally and, critics say, unconstitutionally, in agreeing to wink at Russian weapons sales to the Iranians and to...
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Wednesday, 01 November 2000 12:00 AM
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