Only NBC Does Full Report on EPA Official Sentenced for Million-Dollar Fraud; CBS Completely Ignores

On Wednesday, only NBC's Today devoted a full segment to the upcoming sentencing of top Environmental Protection Agency official John Beale for "bilking the government out of nearly $1 million by claiming he that he worked undercover for the CIA." ABC's Good Morning America only offered a 25-second news brief on the story while CBS This Morning ignored it completely. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

While NBC and ABC finally got around to the story on Wednesday, Fox News reported the scandal on the October 1 edition of Special Report, with correspondent Shannon Bream noting congressional involvement: "Massachusetts Democrat Steven Lynch was just one of many House members demanding to know how the Environmental Protection Agency could be duped for years by a top-level employee....Angry lawmakers say former EPA chief Gina McCarthy, who openly praised Beale during his time at the agency, should have known better."

On Wednesday's Today, national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff told viewers: "Beale, the highest paid official at the EPA and a top expert on climate change, did 'absolutely no work' for years according to court documents, claiming he was serving as an undercover spy for the CIA."

Isiskoff detailed some of the expenses Beale defrauded the government for: "[He] received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses, billed taxpayers for first class air tickets, and claimed falsely that he was suffering from Malaria that he got in Vietnam – where he'd never been – so he could get a handicap parking space costing $8,000."

Like Bream's report, Isikoff mentioned Congress wanting answers: "Members of Congress are now demanding to know why EPA officials, including Gina McCarthy, Beale's immediate boss, didn't challenge his cover stories."

In a later news brief on the topic, anchor Natalie Morales described how the "case is raising new questions about oversight at the EPA."

Good Morning America's Amy Robach only provided these few sentences on the Obama administration embarrassment:

And the former bureaucrat who claimed to be a CIA agent and swindled the government out of $1 million will learn his punishment today. For years, John Beale, a top official at the EPA, claimed he needed months away from his desk to travel overseas for the CIA. He used that time to bill the government for lavish travel while still was collecting his $200,000 salary. Beale will be sentenced on fraud charges today.


Here is a full transcript of Isikoff's December 18 report on NBC:

7:14AM ET

MATT LAUER: Now to what is really a bizarre story. How far would you go to get out of work? Well, a top EPA official will be sentenced today for bilking the government out of nearly $1 million by claiming he that he worked undercover for the CIA. NBC national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff has details on that.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Secret Agent Scam? Top Official Accused of Impersonating CIA Agent]

[JAMES BOND THEME PLAYING]

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: His name is Beale, John Beale. A self-styled CIA secret agent with a license to steal.

JOHN BEALE: Mr. Chairman, I respectfully decline to answer that question on the basis of my 5th Amendment privilege.

ISIKOFF: Beale, the highest paid official at the EPA and a top expert on climate change, did "absolutely no work" for years according to court documents, claiming he was serving as an undercover spy for the CIA.

PATRICK SULLIVAN [EPA ASSISTANT INSPECTOR]: Mr. Beale never worked for the CIA. And indeed, they had no record of him even being on the premises.

ISIKOFF: NBC News has obtained Beale's internal e-mails, revealing how he pulled off his charade. "I am at Langley this morning," he writes in this one, pretending to be at CIA headquarters. In another, "I am in Pakistan...Hope to be back for Christmas...Ho, ho, ho..."

And what was Beale really doing when he wrote these emails?

SULLIVAN: He said he was riding his bicycle, he was reading books, and working around his house.

ISIKOFF: Beale, who has plead guilty, says through his lawyer he's seeing a therapist about his need to fabricate "grandiose narratives."

Beale also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses, billed taxpayers for first class air tickets, and claimed falsely that he was suffering from Malaria that he got in Vietnam – where he'd never been – so he could get a handicap parking space costing $8,000.

Members of Congress are now demanding to know why EPA officials, including Gina McCarthy, Beale's immediate boss, didn't challenge his cover stories. An EPA spokeswoman claims McCarthy discovered Beale's fraud and has imposed new controls. Beale is due to be sentenced this today. Michael Isikoff, NBC News, Washington.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC