Thursday, May 25, 2006

ABC News LIES

Earlier today ABC posted on their "The Blotter" blog site the following article that explicitly stated that the Speaker of the House of Representatives was under FBI investigation:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level official sources.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbysists who are now cooperating with the government. Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government. The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, "We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes."

This week, Hastert has been outspoken in his criticism of the FBI for its raid on the office of another congressman under investigation, Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana.

"My opinion is that they took the wrong path, Hastert said of the FBI. "They need to back up, and we need to go from there."


Shortly after that, the Speaker's office demanded a retraction and the FBI stated that the Speaker was absolutely not being investigated. Soon after that ABC said they stood by the story and someone at ABC made an interesting comment. I read something to the effect that "the story was carefully written, perhaps it isn't being read carefully". I thought it was pretty clear in that the first sentence of the first paragraph said the speaker was being investigated so I went back and looked at the URL again. What I then found was a completely different story. Here is what I found that ABC was now "standing behind":

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, "We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes.

"This week, Hastert has been outspoken in his criticism of the FBI for its raid on the office of another congressman under investigation, Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana.

"My opinion is that they took the wrong path, Hastert said of the FBI. "They need to back up, and we need to go from there."

Notice how the first paragraph says only that the Speaker is "included" in the investigation. This certainly is a careful use of words and completely changes the meaning. The Speaker could be cooperating, assisting, mentioned in a document, almost anything. ABC went back and changed the story, all the while claiming to "stand behind" it. Also note that the FBI said very clearly that the Speaker is NOT under investigation.

ABC news and their "The Blotter" blog have no journalistic integrity. They will publish something that says one thing, then go back later and modify it to say something else later. What will the article say tomorrow? Will they delete it and try to claim they never published it in the first place? Who knows. What a bunch of Goobers!

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