On February 13, MSNBC issued a correction of a falsehood previously documented by Media Matters for America, that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave $68,000 in campaign contributions to Sen. Harry Reid.
Two days after an Associated Press report ignored crucial details that undermine a link between Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a follow-up AP article misrepresented new evidence, which the AP suggested provides further confirmation of such a link but, in fact, casts additional doubt on whether such a link exists.
CNN's Lou Dobbs reported on an Associated Press article published that day that he said demonstrated "the huge influence of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff in Congress" by showing that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had written "at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Abramoff." But the AP article left out important details of two incidents that purportedly link Reid to Abramoff -- details that undermine Dobbs' assertion that it demonstrates any influence Abramoff had with Reid.
During a report on a dispute between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, CBS' Gloria Borger uncritically presented McCain's side of the dispute. While she noted that McCain accused Obama of distancing himself from McCain's reform proposals for "partisan reasons," she said: "It's very clear that lobbying reform is a very personal issue for John McCain. It's very important to John McCain."
The Associated Press, The New York Times, and ABC's World News Tonight reported on Republican efforts to present new House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-OH) as a clean break from GOP corruption scandals, but they ignored criticism Boehner received for passing out checks from a tobacco industry group on the House floor moments before a key tobacco vote, as well as other ethical questions raised by Boehner's record.
Reporting that new House Majority Leader John Boehner could satisfy "a lot of Republican rank-and-file [who] want change because of the lobbying scandals," CNN's Ed Henry ignored Boehner's history of ethics concerns, including the criticism he received for passing out checks from a tobacco industry group on the House floor moments before a key tobacco vote.
One day after NBC's Katie Couric chided Howard Dean for saying that Democratic lawmakers received no campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff, Matt Lauer said that "technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct." In fact, Dean was correct and Couric was wrong.
Media figures have argued that the scandal surrounding former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is good news for Sen. John McCain because, unlike other members of Congress, he is untainted by the scandal and could benefit politically from being cast as a reformer. But these media figures failed to note that, like many Democrats who they have suggested are tainted, McCain received campaign money from Abramoff's clients, as reported by the Associated Press and the Center for Responsive Politics. *
CNN anchor Kyra Phillips misstated a false assertion made by Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell regarding Democrats and indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Phillips reported that Howell "wrote that ... Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans." Phillips then said: "Well that's true, though most of the money went to Republicans." In fact, Abramoff made no contribution to Democrats.
On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Democrats took campaign contributions from former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. When a caller noted his false claim, O'Reilly stated: "So you are a Kool-Aid drinker who is blinded by whatever neurosis you have, because that's just insane." As Media Matters for America has documented, only Republicans received direct contributions from Abramoff.
A January 18 Associated Press article reported that "Democrats tried to link [indicted Republican lobbyist Jack] Abramoff to Republicans." However, the article failed to discuss numerous ties between the GOP and Abramoff.
News outlets reported that the Republican-sponsored ethics reform package would ban lobbyist-paid travel. But the proposed reform measure would still allow lobbyist-paid meals and trips as long as they were offered as campaign fundraising activities.
In an interview with Rep. Roy Blunt, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace let Blunt make several false and misleading claims in defense of his ethical record.
On NPR's All Things Considered, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson interviewed five Republicans and no Democrats during a segment host Michele Norris described as a "look at how Republicans in Congress are dealing with the fallout from the Abramoff affair." The all-GOP format of Liasson's report gave one of the Republicans a chance to launch unanswered attacks on Democrats.
Deborah Howell, the Washington Post ombudsman, falsely asserted twice that Democrats received contributions from Jack Abramoff.