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Update: What GOP Commie Spy?

The ConWeb clams up about Katrina Leung's Republican connections. Plus: NewsMax defends Bill Bennett the gambler; WND thinks "the left" thinks Kyle Williams is a threat; and more.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/2/2003

As much as the ConWeb likes to write about communist Chinese spies -- or at least, they did when Bill Clinton was president -- the Katrina Leung story should have been right up their alley.

Leung is the California businesswoman who was also having affairs with two FBI agents and apparently acting as a double agent, on the FBI payroll as well as providing classified information to the Chinese. This very busy woman was also active in Republican politics in California, donating thousands to Republican candidates in the 2002 election cycle and was a voting member of the state GOP central committee.

If all you read was the ConWeb, you probably wouldn't know about that last part. Heck, you might not even know about Leung at all. lists no original stories on the Leung case. WorldNetDaily has no original stories either, but a May 9 story by Paul Sperry on another spy-related issue mentions Leung, and her Republican connections aren't cited at all. Sperry, though, botches a fact about Wen Ho Lee, the former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who was accused of being a spy for the Chinese. Sperry says Lee "recently was convicted of stealing U.S. nuclear secrets"; Lee actually pled guilty in 2001 to one count of mishandling classified information as part of a plea agreement, not exactly the same thing.

Accuracy in Media's Notra Trulock has written two columns about the Leung case, on April 30 and May 20, that bash the heck out of U.S. intelligence failures -- but say nothing about Leung's Republican connections.

NewsMax, meanwhile, reproduced Trulock's columns, and one UPI wire story notes Leung's GOP connections. But when NewsMax own writers tackle the Leung case -- in this case, George Putnam and Charles R. Smith -- the word "Republican" is curiously absent.

As much as the ConWeb loved to bandy about names like Johnny Chung and Charlie Trie, why the silence on Leung? Just kidding -- we know the answer to that, don't we?

* * *

The ConWeb took roughly the same tack in the mini-scandal of morals czar William Bennett being exposed as a high-roller gambler: staying mostly quiet about it. The most amusing response was Phil Brennan's May 7 attack-the-attackers rant at NewsMax:

    Those in the media attacking him are of the lowest moral stature and obviously loathe anybody whose morality far exceeds their own. They rejoice over abortion and the killing of the innocent unborn, a large number savor homosexuality (three quarters of those who attended editorial meetings with him at the New York Times, for example, were openly homosexual, according to their own Richard Berke), they would take Fidel Castro over George Bush any day, and are thoroughly dedicated to making Americans inmates in a coercive socialist state.

Over on the "news" side, NewsMax's Carl Limbacher did what he usually does when a conservative gets in trouble: throw a Clinton into the mix, in this instance writer Steven Brill accusing Hillary Clinton of lying, as a distraction. Nobody picked up the Clinton story, Limbacher complained, even though " has covered Brill's quotes extensively since the story broke." Well, Mr. Limbacher, that would be the problem there. NewsMax is not exactly considered a source of fair and balanced information.

* * *

The e-mail WorldNetDaily sent out to its subscriber list May 23 sure sounded ominous: "IS KYLE WILLIAMS, 14, A THREAT TO LEFT?" screamed the header.

The copy inside sounded even more ominous: "Kyle Williams, the 14-year-old WorldNetDaily columnist and author, is under attack by the radical left-wing journal Counterpunch. In a recent issue, the magazine launches a broadside against the author of "Seen & Heard," WND Books' latest release." The e-mail then invites readers to "read the article for yourself."

The article, by William MacDougall, details the growing number of teen and preteen pundits being promoted by conservatives, Williams being the prime example. MacDougall does indeed call Williams a lot of things:

  • "preternaturally articulate fourteen year old";
  • "the fresh young prince of American christian conservatism";
  • "conservative wunderkind";
  • "disarmingly assured fourteen year old WorldNetDaily pundit";
  • "the breadth and reach of his intended subject matter puts most South Park watching kids to shame."

This is an attack? Granted, MacDougall's tone is a tad on the condescending side -- his big conclusion is that "Like pre-pubescent child stars and redneck hillbilly child pastors, they're interesting to look at -- a diversion at most -- but ultimately nothing more" -- but it's all pretty tepid stuff, having no relation whatsoever to the "attack" and "broadside" WND is accusing him of.

Then again, telling the truth is not the point. As the e-mail concludes: "Then go and buy the book that has the left quaking. Buy multiple copies and distribute them to parents and other teen-agers who can be inspired by the work of this gifted young pundit."

You'd think an alleged news site would not fall prey to so shamelessly and dishonestly hyping its products. But then again, news isn't what WorldNetDaily is really about.

* * *

The Media Research Center got all worked up about the Texas legislature imbroglio, in which Democrats fled the state to stall a Republican-backed redistricting plan. The Democrats "employed extra-legal, obstructionist means to thwart the will of the majority," wrote Brent Baker in a May 16 CyberAlert.

Baker goes on to -- surprise! -- complain about alleged liberal bias in the networks' reporting on the story, then cited an appearance by Fred Barnes on a Fox News Channel in which he "explained the background which television stories left out, how Republicans are trying to correct past Democratic gerrymandering which has resulted in the minority holding the majority of seats."

What Baker doesn't say, though, is that the networks left out more of the story that would have made the Republicans look even worse.

Writer Joshua Micah Marshall reports on a couple of important points neither Baker nor the mainstream media are talking about: that, gerrymandering or not, the districts had already been redrawn for the decade and the mid-decade redistricting Republicans were trying to do "has been virtually unprecedented for the last century and entirely unprecedented since the mid-1950s, in Texas and every other state in the union"; and that Republican state lawmakers in California did the exact same thing -- disappear to prevent a quorum -- a decade ago.

Gee, doesn't the mainstream media get any credit from Baker for withholding this information?

* * *

Speaking of condescending tones, that's what is contained in a May 7 story on the annual Heywood Broun awards given out to reporters by the Newspaper Guild.

Why, one asks, does CNS find newsworthy the awards given out by a union? (The Newspaper Guild represents newsroom employees at many larger newspapers, and it's highly unlikely the conservative CNS is unionized.) The story's sole purpose is for reporter Marc Morano to ask the winners if they are aware of Broun's background as a socialist and communist.

Needless to say, the story offers yet another opportunity for someone down the hall at the Media Research Center to tsk-tsk that the awards are "more evidence of a liberal media bias."

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