Thursday, June 01, 2006

AP's dishonest reporting against Harry Reid

Josh Marshall dissects the slanted reporting on Senator Harry Reid's (D-NV) receipt of so-called VIP credentials that allowed Reid to attend certain boxing events without paying for a ticket in his home state of Nevada. Here are the bullet points as to what Reid did, whether it was legally allowable or not, and what he did in terms of voting on a relevant-in-time issue concerning those who gave him the boxing credentials to attend a few boxing matches:

1. Reid accepted VIP credentials for boxing events from the Nevada State boxing commission;

2. Under the applicable ethics laws, there is no prohibition against a US senator's receipt of gifts from state agencies (I assume, though, there is a value or sum that cannot be exceeded);

3. More interestingly, if Reid tried to pay for the credentials received, it would be illegal (Senator McCain actually paid the main promoter on one occasion, at least, and the promoter, after McCain refused a refund, sent the money to a charity);

4. At the time Reid accepted the credentials, the Nevada boxing commission was fighting against a federal bill to create more federal oversight of state boxing commissions. How did Reid then vote? To support federal oversight of state boxing commissions, including the State of Nevada;

5. Harry Reid is an avid fan of boxing. During his life, he was a boxer, a boxing judge, and was at one time Chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission (see previous link).

That's the story. Randy "Duke" Cunningham or Jack Abramoff it ain't. But, admittedly, there is something untoward about accepting these credentials. What's the point of giving out these credentials to state and federal officials other than to hopefully protect against too much oversight?

There is also, however, something more nefarious about the AP reporter, John Solomon, and his slanted reporting on this subject. On May 31, 2006, Solomon took a correction Reid made about whether an out-of-state senator, such as Senator McCain, could pay for the credential (Reid originally thought an out-of-state senator could pay; turned out Reid was wrong)--and weaved it into this lead sentence in his article:

"Reversing course, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's office acknowledged Wednesday night he misstated the ethics rules governing his acceptance of free boxing tickets and has decided to avoid taking such gifts in the future."

That definitely implies that Reid misstated whether it was ethical for him to accept "tickets." And that implication is a lie. And Solomon had to know it from reading Reid's press release, which said:

"Senate ethics rules specifically permit any senator to accept something of value from a state agency. Senator Reid misspoke when he said the rule applies only to senators who represent the state agency. It was therefore entirely permissible for Senator Reid -- a Senator from Nevada -- to have attended a major Nevada sporting event as a guest of Nevada officials."

Yes, I am against ethics rules loopholes such as these "VIP credentials." But reporters should have ethics too and report the information as straight as they can. John Solomon has unethically reported this subject involving Harry Reid. And while I did not initially think Solomon was dishonest when the first errors were pointed out, I agree with Josh Marshall that Solomon has now proven his own dishonesty in his reporting.

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