Morning Show Hosts Skip News of Ethics Probe of Dems, Play Dress-up for Halloween

All three network morning shows on Friday skipped a Washington Post report revealing that powerful congressional Democrats such as John Murtha, James Moran and others on a defense panel are the subject of an ethics investigation for a relationship with a lobbying firm. The Democrats, and some Republicans, are under intense scrutiny for steering over $200 million in earmarks to clients of a company called PMA.

However, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today show and CBS’s Early Show somehow managed to ignore this potentially damaging problem for the Democratic majority. Instead, NBC’s hosts found time to dress up as Star Wars characters. (Ann Curry appeared as Darth Vader.) Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith went drag and impersonated Julia Child for a cooking segment (See video and blog here.) Even though it’s October, GMA promoted a new version of A Christmas Carol.

It seems unlikely that these news outlets would ignore a similar story that involved possible allegations about a group of mostly Republican lawmakers who are in charge of earmarking federal funds. Washington Post staff writer Carol D. Leonnig explained:

Nearly half the members of a powerful House subcommittee in control of Pentagon spending are under scrutiny by ethics investigators in Congress, who have trained their lens on the relationships between seven panel members and an influential lobbying firm founded by a former Capitol Hill aide.

The investigations by two separate ethics offices include an examination of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), as well as others who helped steer federal funds to clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients. A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the subcommittee members under scrutiny also include Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

...

Together, the seven legislators have personally steered more than $200 million in earmarks to clients of the PMA Group in the past two years, and received more than $6.2 million in campaign contributions from PMA and its clients in the past decade, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

A second Post article by Ellen Nakashima and Paul Kane revealed that a broader investigation is also looking into activities by Democrat Charles Rangel:

-- Ethics committee staff members have interviewed House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) about one element of the complex investigation of his personal finances, as well as the lawmaker's top aide and his son. Rangel said he spoke with ethics committee staff members regarding a conference that he and four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended last November in St. Martin. The trip initially was said to be sponsored by a nonprofit foundation run by a newspaper. But the three-day event, at a luxury resort, was underwritten by major corporations such as Citigroup, Pfizer and AT&T. Rules passed in 2007, shortly after Democrats reclaimed the majority following a wave of corruption cases against Republicans, bar private companies from paying for congressional travel.

The MRC’s Tim Graham and Rich Noyes wrote about media silence on this story, which has been developing for months, back in July:

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA): Three top Democrats are linked to the scandal surrounding the PMA Group, a lobbying group that closed its doors earlier this year after being raided by the FBI in February. The New York Times reported then that top lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti was suspected of funneling "bogus" campaign contributions to Murtha, Visclosky and Moran, in exchange for directing more than $100 million to PMA clients. Rep. Visclosky had admitted being subpoenaed in May by a federal grand jury, and temporarily stepped down as Chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development. 

Hopefully, once the morning show hosts are done celebrating Halloween and dressing up as women, they’ll find time to look into this investigation by the Washington Post.

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