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Harry Reid Non-Story Exaggerated on Special Report

Reported by Janie - May 31, 2006

As my fellow News Hounds have reported, Fox is taking on the Harry Reid boxing "scandal", despite there being no actual scandal, to give an appearance of Democratic corruption. This theme continued on Special Report with Brit Hume last night (5/30), as Fox News Correspondent James Rosen filed yet another report on this non-story, while Hume hosted an "All Star Panel" to dissect the case.

The transcript of the segment follows:

JR: "When Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins squared off for the WBC middle weight title at the MGM Grand 21 months ago, the usual crowd of high rollers at ring side also included Senator John McCain who paid $1400 for his ticket. And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who paid nothing.

As the AP first reported, Reid's ticket for the bout, and two others between 2003 and 2005 was a gift from the State Athletic Commission of Nevada, where Reid was the Senior Senator."

Harry Reid (clip): "It's hard for me to comprehend how I can be criticized for doing things for the state of NV. The NV State Athletic Commission is part of the state of NV, I'm elected to represent the state of NV."

JR: "The Republican National Committee took a different view, placing the AP story at the very top of a weekly emailed bulletin chronicling alleged corruption of the Democratic Party. The Senate ethics manual advises Senators and their staff not to accept any gift that appears to be motivated by a desire to reward, influence or illicit favorable official action.

But the manual also provides an exception, anything which is paid for by the federal government, or by a state or local government. Since Reid's tickets came from a state Athletic Commission, it would appear it was legal for the Senator to accept them.

At the time of the Hopkins/De La Hoya fight, Congress was weighing legislation that would have expanded federal over sight of the boxing industry. The NV commission opposed such measures as unnecessary, asserting that it's own over sight of boxing, among the most stringent in the 50 states, was sufficient.

A former boxer and referee himself, Reid supported the legislation against the Commissions' wishes, and did not change his views after attending the three fights in question.

Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan group that traces the influence of money on politics and government said Reid certainly committed no crime, but does have 'an appearance problem'."

Massie Ritsch (clip): "I would think he's seen enough boxing over the years to know how this legislation would affect the sport. And that these tickets were not essential to him deciding how to push this legislation, or not push it through Congress."

JR: "But even Ritsch acknowledged there was no quid pro quo, in that Reid continued to advocate against the Athletic Commission's preferred policy."

MR (clip): "He's made a consistent position supporting the creation of a federal boxing commission, and it doesn't appear that these tickets influenced him one way or the other."

JR: "A spokesman for Reid says he has no plans to refund any money or donate equivalent amounts to charity, and Reid himself remained unrepentant."

What exactly is Reid supposed to "repent" for? By Fox's own admission it was not illegal for Reid to accept the tickets, nor did Reid vote in their favor on a bill that was under consideration. Someone please share with me where the story in all of this is.

The blatant partisanship continued as Hume hosted an "All Star Panel" on Reid, where the issue was described as a "modest indiscretion", that a problem comes into play because "appearances matter", and that "the question is, does this cut deeply into the Democratic argument of the culture of corruption against Republicans? It's a sliver I think off of it."

There was no reason for this story to be aired, other than to appease the Republican Party, and create a false sense that Reid (and Democrats through association) are just as corrupt as Republicans, despite having done nothing illegal or immoral.

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