Byron York: WashPost, N.Y. Times Avoided Alcee Hastings Story Like the Plague

Late on Tuesday night, National Review reporter Byron York provided some early grist to challenge strange claims by media critics like William Powers that "journalists are more aggressive under Democratic rule." Somehow, the nation's leading newspapers weren't hustling alongside York as he chased the story of whether Nancy Pelosi would give the reins of the House Intelligence Committee to Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was impeached as a federal judge:

Tomorrow the Washington Post, on its front page, reports the news that Alcee Hastings will not be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.  For a story about Nancy Pelosi's decision, the Post piece gets into a number of details about the Hastings case itself.  Why?  One reason might be that, during the last few months when concerns about Hastings' impeachment and conviction were being raised, the Post never reported the basic facts of the case.  A Nexis search for Hastings' name and that of William Borders, Hastings' co-conspirator in soliciting bribes, reveals exactly one recent story — a November 1 column by the Post's Ruth Marcus, who had covered the Hastings story years ago.  As Congress buzzed, and Pelosi deliberated, the Post never bothered to tell its readers what the controversy was about.  

By the way, if you do the same search for the New York Times, you'll find the same thing — just without the Ruth Marcus column.  Which means that perhaps the most interesting so-far-unnoticed aspect of the story is that so much political pressure built up on Capitol Hill while the nation's two leading newspapers were looking the other way.

Perhaps too much focus on Hastings would confuse people who heard Nancy Pelosi pledging to "drain the swamp" of the Republican culture of corruption on Capitol Hill. Byron York's recent Hastings articles can be found at his NRO archive.

UPDATE: Byron added a note on New York Times inaccuracy on The Corner:

Earlier I noted that in recent weeks the New York Times has published nothing about the details of the Alcee Hastings case — even as the matter began to nag Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and Democrats on Capitol Hill. Today's story suggests the paper still hasn't looked into the matter very much. It includes this passage:

Members of [Pelosi's] staff had said she favored Mr. Hastings. But his position was weakened because he was impeached and removed as a federal judge in 1989 in connection with a bribery case. He was subsequently acquitted in the criminal case.

Hastings was acquitted in his criminal case years before he was impeached and removed from office.

At least the Times headline says Hastings is "tainted."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis