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Tomorrow’s Line-Up (With an Update on ABC’s Hastert Story”)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The Bradley Foundation’s event tomorrow is titled “What’s The Big Idea? True Blue vs. Deep Red: The Ideas That Move American Politics.”

Michael Barone, U.S. News and World Report
David Brooks, The New York Times
Tammy Bruce, “Tammy Bruce Show”
Francis Fukuyama, The Johns Hopkins University
Robert George, Princeton University
Hugh Hewitt, “Hugh Hewitt Show”
Tamar Jacoby, Manhattan Institute
William Kristol, Weekly Standard
Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute
Shelby Steele, Hoover Institution

I think this question will come down to the war and the Constitution: Should the former be won and should the later operate as it was intended to. But your suggestions are welcome: hugh@hughhewitt.com.

Today’s discussion at the Museum of Television and Radio on the challenges facing and future of journalism involved quite a lot of conversation about how trust is earned by media –and how it is lost. I suspect that a great deal of old media’s problems with the center-right news consumer is that that consumer especially does not trust old media to understand these two great issues of the day.

UPDATE: Vaughn Ververs and Dick Meyer were part of today’s gathering, and I’d have loved to had more time to chat with both, but the program beckoned. Ververs adds to the recap here.

UPDATE 2: TALK ABOUT TRUST!

Early today ABC ran with a story that quoted unnamed “high level Justice Department sources” as saying that House Speaker Dennis Hastert was under investigation.

Minutes ago Reuters reported that “The story is wrong. Hastert is not under investigation.”

Now, was ABC played? Did this story deserve to run? Why should we “trust” ABC that this story wasn’t as thin as a single sheet of paper? Why hadn’t ABC managed to get a quote from the high DOJ official that Reuters found?

“Drive-by media” does it again. “Transparency” would get some ABC response on the mechanics of this story tonight. It may prove that the story was responsible, but at this point, with an emphatic denial issued within a brief time, it looks very unlikely.

Speaker Hastert is demanding a full and immediate retraction:

(Washington, D.C.) Ron Bonjean, Communications Director for Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) issued the following statement regarding the ABC Nightly News story that aired this evening:

“The ABC News report is absolutely untrue. As confirmed by the Justice Department, ‘Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.’ We are demanding a full retraction of the ABC News story. The Speaker’s earlier statement issued today accurately reflects the facts regarding this matter.”

The public should be demanding it as well, as well as answers about ABC’s “standards.”

When will the “fake but accurate” defense appear?

UPDATE:

Here’s the original ABC story in full according to Hastert’s office:

Officials: Hastert “In the Mix” of Congressional Bribery Investigation

Brian Ross Reports:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigtaion by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level official sources.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbysists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, “We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes.”

This week, Hastert has been outspoken in his criticism of the FBI for its raid on the office of anotehr congressman under investigation, Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana.

“My opinion is that they toook the worng path, Hastert said of the FBI. “They need to back up, and we need to go from there.”

But this story does not match what is up at “The Blotter.”

Here’s the bio on Brian Ross.

Next question: Who else worked on the story and who vetted the “high level official sources?”

And why did “high level official sources” in the Ross report reproduced go to “high level Justice Department sources” in the Reuters account?

UPDATE:

Here was Hotline’s earliest take:

“The Highest Levels?”ABC News’ Brian Ross reported tonight thatthe Jack Abramoff bribery scandal “has led FBI investigators to some of the most powerful members of Congress,” namely Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

Ross reported that “based on information” obtained by investigators, Hastert is “very much in the mix of the corruption investigation.”

Ross and co. say the investigation centers on a letter Hastert wrote to interior sec. Gail Norton blocking a casino on an Indian reservation that would benefit tribes repped by Abramoff. The letter was written after a Signature’s fundraiser.

(This bit of info is old news, but if investigators are focusing on it, then many other members who wrote similar letters could be in trouble.)

The report quoted a Hastert spokesman as saying Hastert was not aware he was being scrutinized and had not been asked by DoJ to turn over any information.

Hotline has published updates to include the DOJ flat denial.

Still no update at ABCNews.com.

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