AP Two-Times DeLay Story

October 29th, 2005 11:57 AM

As it so often does, the Associated Press likes to play word games, especially when it comes to stories on Republicans.

On Wednesday, Larry Margasak wrote a piece called, “DeLay Acknowledges Failure to Report Money.” In it, Margasak seemed to imply that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was somehow guilty of intentionally trying to hide donations to the Delay Legal Expense Trust; money raised to battle the charges brought against him by Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle.

Margasak went on to cite data from the Trust fund--chiefly that four donations totaling $20, 850 went unreported-- but failed to contact anyone involved with the fund itself. If he had, he would have learned that Trustee Brent Perry took full responsibility for the error, saying he commissioned an independent audit in February of this year which brought the mistake to light. He added, “Congressman DeLay was not involved in these omissions.”

Pretty shabby reporting, right? Well, apparently someone at the AP agreed as well because lo and behold, later that day Margasak re-worked the story under the same title to include Perry’s quotes. And he also corrected an outright falsehood from the earlier piece.

Compare the leading paragraph in story #1:

Rep. Tom DeLay failed to comply with House requirements that he disclose all contributions to a defense fund that pays his legal bills, the Texas Republican acknowledged to House officials.

With that of story #2:

Rep. Tom DeLay has notified House officials that he failed to disclose all contributions to his legal defense fund as required by congressional rules.

In actuality, DeLay neither failed to comply nor to disclose anything. A mistake was found in the submission of existing required disclosures from the third quarters of 2000 and 2001. In them, some $20,000, or 2%, out of a total of $1,089,871 raised to date was omitted in error. Hardly the stuff to justify screaming headlines.