A February 27 article by Politico congressional reporter Daniel W. Reilly and Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei uncritically quoted Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has "fallen short" on her pledge to have "the most open and honest Congress in history," without noting Putnam's false attack on Pelosi just a few weeks ago. As Media Matters for America has noted, Putnam accused Pelosi on February 7 of demanding "a jumbo jet that costs $22,000 an hour to operate to taxi her and her buddies back and forth to California," then reportedly admitted that he made the allegations despite having "no personal knowledge" of the purported request. The Tampa Tribune, like other news outlets, reported on February 20 that there was "no evidence Pelosi requested any such thing.
The Politico reported that Republican strategists are "[e]ager to brand" Pelosi "a hypocrite" and "are encouraging their members to attack her for them." The article then quoted Putnam as stating: "She promised the most open and honest Congress in history and by any objective score, (Democrats) have fallen short."
Putnam's charge that Pelosi was engaging in "an extravagance of power" by "requesting a jumbo jet to taxi her back and forth from her district" was later discredited. Even after The Tampa Tribune reported that Putnam "acknowledge[d] he had no personal knowledge" of the purported request, the website of the House Republican Conference, which Putnam chairs, continued to prominently display a set of talking points titled "Air Force 3 -- A Symbol of Democrat Excess." The Tribune further reported that the site "mentioned Pelosi by name and said she was pursuing 'an unprecedented perk.' " Upon being informed that the talking points were still posted, Putnam told the Tribune on February 16 that he "would make sure what's published on the Web site is accurate." Yet, as of February 27, the talking points were still posted on the site.
As Media Matters has documented, in 2006, major media outlets also failed to challenge Putnam's claim that former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and the Republican leadership forced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) to resign after learning of sexually explicit instant messages sent by Foley to House pages, despite contradictions in Hastert's own account.
From the February 27 Politico article, titled "Pelosi Falls Short on Election Promises":
Republicans are cutting Pelosi less slack than that. Eager to brand her a hypocrite, GOP strategists are closely tracking what they call a growing list of "broken promises" and are encouraging their members to attack her for them.
"She promised the most open and honest Congress in history and by any objective score, (Democrats) have fallen short," said Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.).
Pressed on whether voters will care about procedural complaints, such as lack of floor votes for GOP proposals, Putnam said: "I think voters do care if you shut down the process to the point people cannot even offer an alternative, and you are stifling debate ...You don't want to be constantly complaining about the process, but bottom line, they are abusing it."