Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Dan Rather Moment for ABC's Brian Ross?

Last night, Brian Ross led ABC's broadcast with "an ABC News exclusive" report claiming that Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was now a prime target of the Justice Department probe into the dealings of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Citing unidentified sources within the investigation, Brian Ross breathlessly reported that Hastert "is in the mix". ABC news analyst and Clintonista George Stephanopoulos declared that the story, if true, would be "seismic".

But today, ABC reports that the Justice Department has flatly denied Ross' story, and Hastert has angrily called for a retraction. The situation is eerily similar to the early stages of the Dan Rather "fake-but-accurate" scandal involving forged Texas Air National Guard documents.

Some are speculating that ABC concocted the story in an effort to draw attention away from Democratic Representative William Jefferson, who was allegedly videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe from an undercover FBI operative.

This is not the first time that ABC News has been accused of gross political bias. A 2004 memo by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin exhorted reporters to slant stories to John Kerry's advantage.

Cross-posted at The Jawa Report and Vince Aut Morire.