Roll Call Hires Former House GOP Staffer Jonathan Strong To Cover House

Roll Call has hired Daily Caller reporter Jonathan Strong to cover the House. Strong previously worked as a congressional aide to House Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), and more recently drew criticism for his reporting on Michele Bachmann's migraines.

According to House data compiled by LegiStorm, Strong served as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent for Lungren from August 2006 and August 2008. During his time at the Daily Caller, Strong reported on and provided friendly coverage of the congressman.

When asked by Media Matters if Strong would cover Lungren or legislative activity he's involved with, a Roll Call spokesperson said the details of his House assignment have yet to be finalized but they're “excited to bring” him aboard.

“As with many of our talented journalists, they have a distinguished work history that accompanies them to our newspaper,” said Rebecca Gale, Roll Call's Director of Promotions, in an email. “We have not finalized details of Jonathan's reporting, but we expect he will continue to report on Capitol Hill with the highest integrity and ethics that Roll Call is known for.”

In a staffing note, Roll Call suggested that Strong was hired, in part, because of his ability to break news. In the memo, posted on FishbowlDC, Roll Call editors noted some of Strong's stories, including “the recent excitement over Michele Bachmann's migraines? Jonathan broke that story.” While some reporters defended him, Strong's story drew criticisms for sexism from conservatives and liberals (including Media Matters.)

Strong was also the reporter who spearheaded the Daily Caller's series on the JournoList archives, which purported to show liberal journalists conspiring together. The reporting however, resulted in a seemingly endless series of misleading write-ups about JournoList. The Columbia Journalism Review's Joel Meares wrote that “the controversial reports left many prominent Washington press types, Left and Right, cold.”

Strong has devoted friendly coverage to Lungren in The Daily Caller (Strong's site biography notes that he worked for Lungren). On April 26, 2010, for instance, Strong published an article with the headline, “Lungren introduces bill to repeal hidden Obamacare tax authority.” From the article:

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) is introducing legislation to repeal vast new authority for the IRS hidden deep in President Obama's health care law.

Lungren said the Obamacare requirement in question would put an “unprecedented burden” on small businesses in his district, according to his prepared remarks. Calling his bill the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, Lungren is proposing to rescind the requirement.

At issue is section 9006 in the health care law. As reported by The Daily Caller, that provision will require many businesses for the first time to report to the IRS every expense they incur over $600. The section's purpose is to squeeze more and more tax dollars from businesses to eliminate the so-called “tax gap” - bureaucratese for every red cent Americans owe the IRS but don't pay up come April 15.

Lungren noted that experts estimated the provision would increase tax revenues by $17 billion annually.

Right now, businesses must report the wages they pay employees. But they are exempt from reporting payments to other businesses and for merchandise.

Even small businesses can easily incur thousands of business expenses over $600 each year. Critics say the requirement will inundate businesses with new red tape and cost them huge sums preparing paperwork.

Lungren's congressional office was apparently happy with the piece, as it reposted Strong's story, in full, on its website.

Strong returned to the topic in a January 25 article, briefly writing about Lungren and the health care provision: “But the provision quickly became controversial. House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren first proposed to repeal the measure.”

Strong also interviewed Lungren for an April 19, 2010, article critical of Obama's health care legislation.

On October 27, 2010, Strong reported that “Lungren is poised to chair the key House committee” on campaign spending. Strong presented Lungren's view, and also quoted a critic of Lungren's position.

In a January article, Strong wrote that there is “a trend toward offering big prizes for innovation” and cited Lungren: “California Republican Rep. Dan Lungren also introduced legislation for a $1 billion prize to the first company to sell 60,000 cars that get 100 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency.”