Abramoff and the Democrats, Cont’d

ABRAMOFF AND THE DEMOCRATS, CONT’D….Two weeks after Jack Abramoff’s plea deal was announced, the press is continuing to fall for the GOP line that the scandal is somehow ?bipartisan.? In today?s Washington Post, Jonathan Weisman reports that ?Congressional Democrats yesterday laid out a plan to change what they called a GOP ‘culture of corruption’ in Washington, even as Republicans pointed to ethics lapses on their antagonists’ side of the aisle.?

One such ?ethics lapse,? according to Republicans and the credulous Post, is the following:

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), one of Abramoff’s toughest critics, has acknowledged that in the fall of 2003 he pushed Congress to approve legislative language urging government regulators to decide whether the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts deserved federal recognition. About the same time, Dorgan met with the tribe’s representatives and Michael D. Smith, an Abramoff associate.

But as we reported last week: ?Dorgan…has been working on behalf of Indian tribes far longer than Abramoff has been bilking them.? What?s more, we also confirmed that: ?Smith, a veteran Democratic operative, had worked closely with Dorgan?s office since well before he joined Greenberg [the lobbying firm for which Abramoff worked] in 2000, a year before Abramoff did.” So the fact that Dorgan continued to work with Smith on behalf of Indian tribes in no way suggests that Dorgan was implicated in Abramoff?s schemes.

Maybe not every Post reporter reads the Monthly site. But it wouldn?t have taken more than a couple of phone calls to get this crucial context about Dorgan and Smith.

If reporters are simply going to repeat GOP charges wholesale ? rather than subjecting them to some basic scrutiny, and figuring out whether or not they?re valid ? we could be hearing the phrase ?bipartisan scandal? for quite a while.