CBS, ABC ignored FBI raid of Weldon associates in corruption probe; NBC ignored key difference between Weldon raid and Reid land deal


Evening news programs on ABC and CBS made no mention that federal agents raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) daughter and her business partner, as well as four additional locations, as part of a reported investigation into whether Weldon improperly assisted their company. NBC's Nightly News did report on the raids, but NBC devoted equal time to Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's announcement that he would issue updated disclosure forms to add more details of a land transaction, without noting a key difference: There are no allegations that Reid used his office to benefit from the land deal.

Of the three major network evening news programs, only NBC's Nightly News reported on October 16 that federal agents raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) daughter and her business partner, as well as four additional locations, as part of what The New York Times described as an "intensifying corruption inquiry" into whether Weldon improperly assisted their company, Solutions North America Inc., in the procurement of lobbying and public relations contracts. The October 16 broadcasts of the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News Tonight made no mention of the raids. The Times reported that the investigation into Weldon concerns whether he "misused his official position to help his daughter's company obtain lobbying contracts from foreign clients and helped steer contracts to favored firms."

While the Nightly News did cover the raids of Weldon's daughter and her partner, correspondent Chip Reid devoted equal time to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's (NV) announcement that he would issue updated disclosure forms reflecting more details of a land transaction. An October 11 Associated Press article first reported that story, asserting that Reid made $700,000 "on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years" and that "Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company." While NBC noted that investigators are trying to determine whether Weldon "used his position as a congressman" to assist the company owned by his daughter and her partner, its report did not note that, in contrast, there are no allegations that Sen. Reid used his office in any way that might have affected the value of his land, as Media Matters for America has noted.

From the October 16 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:

WILLIAMS: Three weeks to go now till the midterm elections, and tonight the FBI has raided the homes of a Pennsylvania congressman's daughter and those of a close friend in the midst of a close fight for re-election. NBC News correspondent Chip Reid, with us from Capitol Hill tonight for this latest wrinkle for the Republican Party. Chip, good evening.

REID: Well, good evening, Brian. FBI and federal law enforcement sources say that they're looking into whether Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Curt Weldon used his position as a congressman to help obtain lucrative lobbying contracts for an old friend and for his daughter. Today the FBI searched six locations in that investigation in Philadelphia and in Florida, including Weldon's daughter's home. Weldon denies any wrongdoing, but this could not possibly have come at a worse time for him, because he is in the toughest fight for re-election he has ever had. Brian.

WILLIAMS: And, Chip, let's talk about Harry Reid of Nevada. The top Democrat in a story that continues to follow him.

REID: Well, Harry Reid had this real estate deal. Eight years ago he bought land for $400,000, then sold it six years later. Made a $700,000 profit. His critics have said he violated Senate rules because he did not fully report it on his Senate financial forms. Last week, he said, hey, he'll fix the forms if he has to. Today he decided to jump ahead before the ethics committee gives them an answer and to amend those forms and give the full story. He still insists that the deal itself is perfectly legal. Brian.

WILLIAMS: All right. Chip Reid with that update from Capitol Hill tonight in Washington. Chip, thanks.

Posted In
Government, Ethics
Chip Reid
ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.