Kurtz: NBC, Other Networks See ABC "Overreach" on Shaky Hastert Scandal Story

Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz demonstrated on Friday how isolated ABC is on their embarrassing assertion that Speaker Dennis Hastert is "in the mix" of a federal corruption probe, called "potentially seismic" by former Clinton toady George Stephanopoulos:

Reporters for NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and other news organizations checked out ABC's report but were waved off by law enforcement officials. "Within 15 minutes, we had three or four basic denials saying in effect this was a complete overreach, and we chose not to run it," said John Reiss, executive producer of "NBC Nightly News."

Friday night, Kurtz appeared on Washington Post Radio (WTWP) in D.C. at about 6:15 with host Bob Kur, the former NBC reporter. When ABC's Brian Ross stressed that any Hastert investigation was in its "very beginning" stages and could amount to nothing, Kurtz said it "made me question why" ABC would make it the lead story. Kur replied: "Exactly."

Brent Baker reports there was no mention of a supposed Hastert investigation on
Friday night.

Power Line's John Hinderaker is right on about how this Ross story is a good example about how shaky anonymous-sources stories can be:

Perhaps it could still turn out to be true. But, once again, the moral is, I think, that it is foolish to assume that stories based on anonymous leaks are well-founded. More likely, they are smears and slanders put out by people with a political agenda, and printed by reporters with the same political agenda.

The broader question, of course, is whether it makes sense to launch 'bribery' investigations when Congressmen and Senators vote consistent with the interests of their campaign contributors. People rarely contribute money to politicians who disagree with their views, and the idea that there is something wrong with a politician voting the way his supporters and constituents want him to, is ridiculous.

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