Media Watch

August 29, 1996




Labor's Political Intolerance,


Mob Ties Surface on TV ABC, CNN


Touch on Unions' Peculiar Politics



While the labor unions have yet to receive the sort of Darth Vader treatment reserved for Republican interest groups like the Christian Coalition or the NRA, some reporters have presented critical looks at the exercise of union power.


-- Last night, CNN became the first network to address the issue of the unions' political intolerance, taking dues money from Republican union members to elect Democrats. Reporter Wolf Blitzer asked AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney: "Many of your members are Republicans. How do you explain to them that you're using, in effect, their dues to help elect Democrats?"


-- CNN campaign finance reporter Brooks Jackson delivered a story last night on the unions' political campaign in which he observed: "So Bill Clinton says the era of big government is over? Not at the Democratic convention, where unionized government workers are suiting up for battle against Republicans."


-- On Tuesday's World News Tonight, ABC's Brian Ross reported: "In the world of big money and Democratic politics on public display this week in Chicago, this man holds a special place. His name is Arthur Coia, who despite being president of a labor union the FBI says has long been controlled by the Mafia, the Laborers International has become one of the Democrats' top money people, raising millions and gaining him special access to the Clinton White House....In the last two years, the Clinton administration has gone all out to court Coia and his union money with invitations to the White House and an appearance by the First Lady at a big union conference."


Ross added detail: "In an abrupt change of plans that raised questions about whether the union's money to the Democrats had bought it some kind of sweetheart deal, prosecutors dropped the allegations and instead quietly negotiated a deal with Coia that let him keep his job and put him in charge of cleaning up the union."

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