Liasson's all-GOP report featured Republican attacks on Democrats, no Democratic response

››› ››› JOE BROWN

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.

On the January 12 broadcast of National Public Radio's (NPR) 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 [Jack] Abramoff affair." Although Liasson's report focused on the reaction of Republicans to the unfolding Abramoff corruption scandal -- which threatens to ensnare several Republican lawmakers with close ties to the disgraced lobbyist -- one of the interviewees twice attacked Democrats. The all-Republican format of Liasson's report left no opportunity for Democrats to respond to these attacks.

Liasson interviewed National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Nick, Republican strategist Warren Tompkins, former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and former Republican party general counsel Jan W. Baran. In two separate sound clips in the report, Tompkins attacked Democrats, implying that they are corrupt. In the first clip, Tompkins asserted that given the unfolding Abramoff scandal, "[t]he problem for the Republicans is the fact that we're in control, combined with the fact that we get elected because we're not supposed to do these kinds of things." He added that in the "10 short years" since Republicans took control of Congress from the Democrats, "we've become them." In the second clip, Tompkins stated that Republicans he knows "want and expect honest, good government," adding:

TOMPKINS: [T]here are certain things that made them Republicans years ago, and they're pretty upset. What I get said back to me is, "There's no difference between Republicans and Democrats anymore, so it doesn't make any difference who I vote for, because they're all going to end up being the same."

Liasson's report included no comments from Democrats who might have responded to Tompkins's attacks, which echoed remarks by Fox News political contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Wall Street Journal contributing editor and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, previously noted by Media Matters for America.

From the January 12 broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered:

NORRIS: Ethics will be at the top of the agenda when Congress returns later this month. The scandal around former lobbyist Jack Abramoff is still unfolding. It has already claimed one victim on Capitol Hill; Texas Congressman Tom DeLay has completely abandoned his position as majority leader. And two of the men who hope to replace DeLay have extensive ties to lobbyists, though they're campaigning as reformers. NPR's Mara Liasson has this look at how Republicans in Congress are dealing with the fallout from the Abramoff affair.

[...]

LIASSON: Although a handful of Democrats did get money from Abramoff's clients, the vast majority of members and staff involved are Republicans. And Republican leaders have been getting an earful from their supporters outside the Beltway. Warren Tompkins, a key Republican strategist in South Carolina, says people he talks to are shocked and disgusted.

TOMPKINS: The problem for the Republicans is the fact that we're in control, combined with the fact that we get elected because we're not supposed to do these kinds of things. I mean, they took over the House to get rid of the system that was in place, that had become corrupted over 30 years of one-party dominance and, you know, unfortunately in 10 short years, we've become them. That's what hurts.

[...]

LIASSON: When they come back to Washington, Republicans will have to decide just how much reform they can stomach and how much reform the public, including loyal Republican voters, is demanding. If they don't go far enough, says Warren Tompkins, they could pay a price.

TOMPKINS: My barometer in politics has always been the guys that I go hunting and fishing with, and they're Republicans. They're hard-core conservatives, but they want and expect honest, good government. And there are certain things that made them Republicans years ago, and they're pretty upset. What I get said back to me is, "There's no difference between Republicans and Democrats anymore so it doesn't make any difference who I vote for because they're all going to end up being the same."

That's a horrible problem for us.

LIASSON: A horrible problem, Tompkins says, because those voters could decide to stay home or, even worse, vote for the other party.

Posted In
Government, Ethics
Network/Outlet
NPR
Person
Mara Liasson
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine, Abramoff Scandal
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