the fixers
press reactions

From The Wall Street Journal

By Dorothy Rabinowitz

"The subjects ofThe Fixers --the FRONTLINE film airing tomorrow night...rank among the less famous of the favor-seekers whose financial backing helped bring Bill Clinton to the White House. A husband and wife team, Eugene and Nora Lum, set off on their wondrous ventures in influence-peddling in Honolulu, correspondent Peter Boyer relates."

"...The data Mr. Boyer has here on Mac McLarty, the White House, Ron Brown and the Lums--who suddenly had the president's own lawyer, John Tisdale, in their employ to close the deal--are, it is very soon clear, sizzling stuff."

"...Theirs is a complicated saga all right, but Mr. Boyer and producer Michael Kirk have succeeded in refining the financial complexities, the labyrinthine connections between fixers and fixees, into a script of shining clarity."

From The Hollywood Reporter

By Irv Letofsky

"It's fairly well-established that politics, particularly fund-raising and influence peddling and meddling, can be smarmy business. The usually nosy FRONTLINE affirms it in a sharp, two-fisted documentary on The Fixers , with special focus on a few players in the furor concerning Democratic money-grubbing."

"...It's a bumpy ride, for sure, and Boyer has a sharp eye for the sort of detail that helps us slash through the jungle of complexities. He also brings some attitude to his coverage of these nasty matters; it helps point out the deadly ironies and makes for frolicsome watching. Correspondents who bring themselves a starring role in stories (Geraldo Rivera, Tom Brokaw, et al.) are often irritating. Boyer does some of it here--flying here and there, poring through files, trying to get unreachable sources on the phone, etc.--but he's not obtrusive, and it illuminates the problem of reporting the unreportable story. It's a topic not a lot of people want to talk about--something congressional investigators will find out."

From San Francisco Examiner

By David Armstrong

"FRONTLINE's point--that politicking is all about money--is hardly novel or new. The show's strength is grounding this commonplace observation in specificity. The report is also timely: The Lums are Asian American, and the fund-raising controversy is centered on a supposed Asian connection."

"...There is no smoking gun on this program, but there is an interesting if meandering paper trail. The trail wanders so much, actually, it can be tough to follow. So, FRONTLINE set up an interactive game at the FRONTLINE Online Web site (www.pbs.org) for tracking the players in The Fixers.

One disappointment: This documentary fails to more than hint at a broader context. Should political fund-raising be reformed? It the media's obsession with Asian influence a new version of "yellow peril" xenophobia? This lack of peripheral vision may be the price of focusing narrowly on the Lums, quirky and colorful though they may be."

From Denver Rocky Mountain News

By Dusty Saunders

"The Fixers follows the intriguing trail of the wheeling and dealing husband-wife team, which begins in Hawaii and ends at the White House.

The Lums, according to FRONTLINE correspondent Peter Boyer, were walking the corridors of power before most Americans ever heard of John Huang on the evening news.

Boyer, whose political investigative pieces appear regularly in The New Yorker details how the Lums have perfected the game of trading money for political influence and personal wealth. The result is a fascinating hour that intrigues like a Paul Erdman political-financial novel."

"...The strength of The Fixers is found in Boyer's meticulous reporting. Viewers accustomed to the quick-hit, two-minute TV stories 'detailing' the often-confusing web of Democratic fund-raising, might have trouble initially focusing on this involved report. Stay with it. Boyer and his crew have done an exemplary job of reporting with the hour concentrating on documentation rather than hearsay.

FRONTLINE continues to enter areas where the networks fear to tread."

From The Boston Globe

By Frederic M. Biddle

"As tales of dubious contributions to the Democratic Party progress from complex to frustratingly abstract, TV news is aping too many murky newspaper headlines. Cutting through the info-smog is The Fixers journalist Peter Boyer's fine FRONTLINE profile of two of President Clinton's many aggressive fund-raisers."

"It's the type of well-reported anecdote that puts starch into headlines about influence peddlers' stays between the sheets in White House bedrooms. Still, to date the tale of the Lums has added up to just another headache for Clinton--and a spoiled golf game. The Fixers closes with footage of a just reelected Clinton playing on one of the courses the Lums had made possible in their Hawaii days. A monsoon washed out the game."

From The New York Times

By Walter Goodman

"Viewers who have barely managed to tell a Huang from a Riady or a Trie from a Chung are introduced tonight to a new name, the Lums of Hawaii, known for purposes of this FRONTLINE offering as The Fixers. Peter J. Boyer lays out their intricate but basically old-fashioned careers, Nora, a Japanese American, and her husband, Eugene, an ethnic Chinese lawyer, made it in the 1980's as go-between for developers and public officials who were cashing in on the building of Japanese financed golf courses in Hawaii. Mr. Boyer finds a money trail of political contributions and favors."

".....he tracks their activities to Oklahoma and finds them being used as fronts to benefit a giant utility company headed by Thomas F. McClarty III, who later became the President's chief of staff.

The details of that operation, which an Oklahoma official suggests amounted to a political fix, are too tangled for short explication, but viewers who missed Mr. Boyer's article in last week's New Yorker can find them professionally pieced together tonight."

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