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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Howard Kurtz lies about what Deborah Howell did and didn't write in his attempt to defend her.

In an online discussion, Kurtz lied in his answer to a question from a poster from Fort Washington.

Fort Washington, Md.: Reporter Sue Schmidt and ombudsman Deborah Howell have both asserted repeatedly that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans. The FEC shows no record of any Democrat getting any money from Abramoff, period. Some Indian tribes who were among Abramoff's victims contributed funds to some Democrats, but suggesting that that somehow is a donation from Abramoff defies logic. How does the Post justify passing on what appears to be nothing but GOP spin as fact?

Howard Kurtz: Howell's column Sunday said that a number of Democrats "have gotten Abramoff campaign money." That was inartfully worded. I believe what she was trying to say, and I have not discussed this with her, is that some Democrats have received campaign cash from Abramoff clients, and that this may have been orchestrated by the convicted lobbyist. That's why you have a number of Democrats (as well as many Republicans, now including Denny Hastert) giving back the tainted dough or donating it to charity. Even National Review Editor Rich Lowry says this is basically a Republican scandal -- we are talking about a Bush fundraiser and Tom DeLay pal -- but where the tangled web has extended to Democrats, we need to mention that too.

In the article quoted by Kurtz Deborah Howell also wrote "Schmidt quickly found that Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties.". This is not inartful wording. This is an unambiguously false statement. The pronoun "he" is unambiguously singular and can not possibly be interpreted as referring to Jack Abramoff or his clients.

In response to the demonstrably accurate claim that Howell falsely wrote that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats, Kurtz quotes something else Howell wrote. He can not prove that she didn't write something by noting that, in another part of the same article she wrote something else. An equally honest response would be the following
"Deborah Howell wrote "The Post's two-year investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings is one of the best and most explosive pieces of investigative journalism this town has seen in a long time" which does not state or imply that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats.

It is impossible that Kurtz, an alleged media critic, is unaware of the false statement written by Howell. It has been brought to the attention of the Washington Post hundreds of times, since it was made. He chose to pretend that she did not write what she wrote and talk about something else she wrote in a pathetic attempt at deceit. Kurtz is so transparently dishonest that he demonstrates that he has as much contempt for the Post's readers as for the truth.

Of course, even the allegedly inartful statement is false if one corrects the grammatical error to change Abramoff money to Abramoff's money. "Abramoff" is not an English adjective. The use of "Abramoff" as an adjective was clearly a very artful attempt to mislead with ambiguity. "Abramoff's" would make the statement false, "Abramoff's clients" would not create the false impression that Democrats are, with respect to Abramoff, anything like Republicans.

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