ABC Spins Whitman Controversy as the 'Story That Won't Go Away,' Airs Fourth Segment in Two Days

Good Morning America on Friday continued to hype the allegations that gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed an illegal alien, airing the fourth segment on the topic in just two days. As though ABC hadn't played a role, reporter David Wright labeled the controversy "the story that won't seem to go away for Meg Whitman."

He added that it was a "major distraction for her campaign as this race heads into the final month." Wright explained how attorney Gloria Allred is representing Nikki Diaz, the illegal alien who was fired by the California Republican.

What Wright failed to mention is that Allred is also a partisan Democrat who has donated $10,000 to Democratic candidates and the California state party. In 2003, she tried to take down the last Republican gubernatorial candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (ABC's George Stephanopoulos did mention Allred's liberal leanings on Thursday. Wright in a report the same day, did not.)

The American Spectator on Friday discussed Allred's Democratic agenda:  

Allred is hardly just an attorney with a client popping up strangely in the middle of a hot governor's race. According to the Federal Election Commission, she has contributed just shy of $10,000 in federal campaign contributions to every Democrat running for something at the federal level from Barbara Boxer to John Kerry to Hillary Clinton to Dianne Feinstein to Barack Obama. She has also given money to the California Democratic Party -- the latter, of course, which has nominated Jerry Brown to run against -- surprise! -- Meg Whitman!

Wouldn't it have been reasonable for Wright to at least mention this? Instead, he simply parroted, "Then, at lunchtime, attorney Gloria Allred produced what she says is the smoking gun." (ABC did mention Allred's liberal leanings on Thursday.)

He closed by perhaps hopefully recounting: "But the polls show this race is now in a dead-heat. And the controversy itself could hurt her, especially among Latino voters."

A transcript of the October 1 segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Sticking with politics, that illegal immigrant controversy shaking up the California's governor's race. The lawyer for Whitman's former housekeeper promised here on GMA yesterday, that she would produce a document that she says proves that Whitman knew her maid was in the country illegally. And she did produce that letter at a press conference yesterday. But Whitman says she never saw the letter and is willing to take a lie detector test to prove it. David Wright is in Los Angeles with the latest. David?

ABC GRAPHIC: Illegal Housekeeper Fires Back: Proof Meg Whitman Knew?

DAVID WRIGHT: Morning, George. This is the story that won't seem to go away for Meg Whitman, major distraction for her campaign as this race heads into the final month. At a morning news conference in Santa Monica, Meg Whitman was peppered with questions.

OFF CAMERA REPORTER: Why didn't you turn her into law enforcement?

WRIGHT: About her former nanny's immigration status.

SECOND OFF CAMERA REPORTER: Are you suggesting that she may have intercepted the letter.

WRIGHT: Whether she had any inkling Nikki Diaz was an illegal immigrant.

MEG WHITMAN: Neither my husband nor I received a letter from the Social Security Administration. And if there is a letter out there, I don't know how they got it.

WRIGHT: From day one, Whitman has denied federal officials ever notified her that the Social Security number Diaz provided was a fake. Telling Good Morning America-

WHITMAN: We never received those letters. And when we hired Nicky, we used an employment agency.

GLORIA ALLRED: Today, I am distributing to the press, the letter which Meg Whitman denies that she and her husband received.

WRIGHT: Then, at lunchtime, attorney Gloria Allred produced what she says is the smoking gun. A letter dated from the Social Security Administration, dated April 22nd, 2003.

ALLRED: Please look at the bottom of the letter. On it, Dr. Harsh has written, "Nikki please check this."

WRIGHT: Dr. Griffith Harsh is Meg Whitman's husband. The campaign then had to calibrate it's denials.

ROB STUTZMAN: It's possible that it is Dr. Harsh's handwriting.

WRIGHT: Insisting on a conference call, they'd want to examine the original before conceding any ground. Politically, the notion that Whitman may have suspected the nanny for six years, but employed her anyway, could be damaging.

BRUCE CAIN (UC Berkeley, Washington Center): If that's the story that takes over, then, she's got a real problem. Because, then, we have hypocrisy. It looks like the only reason she took those steps because was she, in 2009, she expected to run for office.

WRIGHT: Whitman has denounced all of the allegations as a baseless smear. But the polls show this race is now in a dead-heat. And the controversy itself could hurt her, especially among Latino voters. George?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org