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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Don't Believe Everything You Hear
Slightly distressed last night hearing my compadres lament the "fact" that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is becoming implicated in the Abramoff scandal. Let's all remember how disgusted we have been with even the mainstream media over the past few years and take anything they say with a grain of salt. Here's a clip from Media Matters that puts in a few details the AP left out. Democracy is so difficult without a trustworthy press....

Associated Press omitted key information in attempting to tie Reid to Abramoff
In an article about supposed ties between Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Associated Press omitted several details that undermine the premise of the article. And the AP apparently didn't bother to contact a former Abramoff colleague for comment, despite writing extensively about his contact with Reid's office.
The AP article suggested that Reid and Abramoff coordinated about legislation that would have applied the minimum wage to the Northern Mariana Islands, an Abramoff client that opposed the legislation. But the AP left out one rather significant detail: while Abramoff opposed the legislation, Reid supported it. In fact, Reid was a co-sponsor of the legislation and argued for its passage in a speech delivered on the floor of the United States Senate, as Media Matters detailed. Including that information would have painted a far different picture of the contact between Abramoff's associates and Reid's office -- one in which Abramoff may have wanted to influence Reid, but was unable to do so.
The AP article also reported that Reid "went to the Senate floor" to oppose a bill that would have harmed an Indian tribe represented by Abramoff, saying the legislation was "fundamentally flawed." But the AP failed to mention several important facts. Coincidentally, each of these omitted facts undermines the suggestion that Reid took his position at Abramoff's behest.
In quoting Reid describing the legislation as "fundamentally flawed," the AP bizarrely clipped Reid's comments to omit his reason for thinking it was flawed. Here's what Reid actually said:
"The legislation is fundamentally flawed because it allows Bay Mills to establish gaming facilities under the guise of settling a land claim.
The land claim is simply -- and everybody knows this -- an excuse to take land into trust for off-reservation gaming. "
The AP devoted more than 1,700 words to this article, but didn't include among them Reid's full sentence opposing the bill. At absolute best, this is stunning sloppiness.
Reid's opposition to the bill was entirely consistent with his longstanding opposition to off-reservation Indian gaming. As early as 1988, as Media Matters noted, Reid supported the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which generally prohibited Indian gaming on non-tribal lands. One reason for Reid's position on this should be more than obvious: Reid represents Nevada, the gambling capitol of the United States. Of course he would oppose off-reservation Indian gaming, which constitutes competition for the casinos that employ so many of his constituents.
Most amazingly, the AP article made much of contacts between former Abramoff deputy Ronald Platt and Reid's office -- but the AP didn't bother to contact Platt for comment.
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posted by Emily at 2/11/2006 11:27:00 AM

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