NBC Lets Barney Frank Attack GOP 'Hypocrisy' in Hastert Coverage

June 5th, 2015 9:39 PM

Friday's NBC Nightly News gave former Democratic Representative Barney Frank a platform to blast his former Republican peers in Congress, as it covered the Dennis Hastert scandal. Frank asserted that the issue is "a reminder of the hypocrisy especially among my Republican colleagues. Dennis Hastert became Speaker to preside over the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He then went on, as Speaker, to put before the House twice, constitutional amendments that would have banned same-sex marriage." [video below]

Correspondent Gabe Gutierrez featured the clip of the liberal politican near the end of his report on Hastert. Gutierrez included a soundbite of ABC News's interview of the sister of Steve Reinboldt, who is an alleged victim of the former high school wrestling coach. He also featured two clips from a classmate of Reinboldt, who corroborated the sister's accusation against Hastert.

The NBC journalist led into the soundbite from former Massachusetts congressman by underlining that "former Representative Barney Frank says the allegations are stunning." The newscast ran two stills of former Speaker Hastert as it played the clip of Frank from Friday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC.

It should be pointed out that former Rep. Frank was himself reprimanded by the House of Representatives in a 408-18 vote, after his office "fixed" the 33 parking tickets of "acknowledged prostitute, Stephen Gobie, had accumulated while driving Frank's car," according to a July 27, 1990 article from the Chicago Tribune. The Washington Post reported in August 1989 that Gobie "operated a prostitution service out of Frank's Capitol Hill apartment" between 1985 and 1987.

ABC's World News Tonight only ran excerpts from correspondent Brian Ross's interview of Reinboldt's sister in its report on Hastert. CBS Evening News led its broadcast with the issue, and included clips from the Ross interview and excerpts from correspondent Dean Reynolds's interview of another former student who wrestled under the former House Speaker's tutelage. Neither ABC nor CBS included reaction from any of Hastert's former colleagues in Congress

The full transcript of Gabe Gutierrez's report from Friday's NBC Nightly News:

LESTER HOLT: Tonight, in the ever-disturbing case surrounding former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a voice we haven't heard from before has emerged – telling NBC News about his conversation decades ago with a friend who told him about sexual encounters with Hastert when his friend was a teenager. The man we spoke to is the second person to come forward in the past 24 hours with the story of Steven Reinboldt, a now-deceased former student of the Illinois high school where Hastert coached wrestling.

NBC's Gabe Gutierrez is on the story.

GABE GUTIERREZ: Steve Reinboldt was the student equipment manager for the Yorkville High wrestling team Dennis Hastert coached. In an interview with ABC News, Reinboldt's sister, Jolene, says years after he graduated, her brother told her he had a sexual relationship with Hastert in high school.

JOLENE BURDGE, STEVE REINBOLDT'S SISTER (from ABC's Good Morning America): I asked him, Stevie, when was your first same-sex experience? And he just looked at me, and said, it was with Dennis Hastert. And I just – I – you know, I was stunned. I said, why didn't you ever tell anybody, Stevie? I mean, he was your teacher. Why didn't you ever tell anybody? And he just looked at me, and said, who is ever going to believe me?

GUTIERREZ: Her brother died of AIDS in 1995. Now, another friend and classmate of Reinboldt's, who asked us to conceal his identity, tells NBC News Reinboldt confided in him back in 1974.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN (voice electronically altered): He started to talk about his relationship with Denny Hastert, and told me that they had been sexual. And I was flabbergasted.

GUTIERREZ: He says he believes there was more than one sexual encounter.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I said, what do you mean? And he said, well, we would do things sexually, and it would sometimes start with a massage. And we didn't go much further into that.

GUTIERREZ: Reinboldt's friend says he does not know who 'Individual A' is – the person cited in the federal indictment against Hastert. It alleges Hastert agreed to pay someone from Yorkville three-and-a-half million dollars to conceal past misconduct. Law enforcement officials tell NBC News the misconduct was of a sexual nature with a male student.  But Hastert is charged with trying to evade federal banking requirements, and lying to the FBI.

Former state wrestling champion Gary Matlock, coached by Hastert, says he barely remembers Reinboldt. But has a hard time believing Hastert would sexually abuse a student.

GARY MATLOCK: He was a great teacher, a good coach – great motivator.

GUTIERREZ: Former Representative Barney Frank says the allegations are stunning.

BARNEY FRANK (from MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports): It's also, though – frankly, to me – a reminder of the hypocrisy especially among my Republican colleagues. Dennis Hastert became speaker to preside over the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He then went on, as speaker, to put before the House twice, constitutional amendments that would have banned same-sex marriage.

GUTIERREZ (on-camera): Hastert has not commented on the allegations; neither has his attorney. He's scheduled to make his first court appearance next week. Lester?

HOLT: All right. Gabe Gutierrez for us tonight, thank you.