As has been widely reported by NewsBusters, the media have been actively misrepresenting the burgeoning Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal as being exclusively a Republican problem. Today, Jim Abrams of the Associated Press logged a report dealing with House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) assertions Thursday that Republicans have created "one of the most closed, corrupt congresses in history." Yet, in a ten-paragraph article, Abrams devoted six of them to Democratic ties to Abramoff, as well as Republican efforts to craft new legislation dealing with the problem.
Certainly, one has to get past the headline – “Pelosi Wants Probe of 'Corrupt Congress'” – as well as the sub-headline – “House Democratic Leader Pelosi Urges Investigation of Republicans Linked to Lobbyist Abramoff” – and the lede – “House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said Republicans had created 'one of the most closed, corrupt congresses in history' and urged the House ethics committee to investigate GOP lawmakers linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff " – to find the balance. Yet, once there, the reader is treated to a side of this story that few in the mainstream media dare to disseminate:
“Pelosi's letter [to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois)] did not ask the ethics committee to investigate an unrelated case involving Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana.“A former aide to Jefferson, in pleading guilty to aiding and abetting bribery of a public official, said Jefferson had demanded bribes for promoting business opportunities in Africa, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
“Pelosi didn't comment on the Jefferson case, but stressed that ‘we have said all along that, Democrat or Republican, anyone who doesn't follow the rules or the law has to be held accountable. That's the difference between us.’
“Hastert's spokesman, Ron Bonjean, said it was ‘hypocritical for Leader Pelosi to throw mud’ when a fundraising committee run by the Democratic leader had been fined last year for improperly accepting donations over federal limits.
He said Republicans hope Pelosi ‘will stop playing politics and will support our comprehensive lobbying effort that will help change the way work is done in Washington.’"
Abrams concluded his report: “Hastert has asked Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., to craft lobbying ethics legislation to address some of the abuses that led to the Abramoff scandal. One idea they have proposed is to bar lawmakers from accepting any privately funded trips.”
Somebody pinch me.