Fox's Wilson falsely claimed "there is no evidence that DeLay is losing support in his home district"March 31, 2005 4:43 PM EST ››› JEREMY CLUCHEY
Fox News correspondent Brian Wilson reported that "there is no evidence that" House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) "is losing support in his home district" despite the longstanding ethical controversies surrounding the lawmaker. In fact, recent reports in The Washington Post and The Dallas Morning News undermine Wilson's claim.
From the March 30 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume:
WILSON: DeLay did orchestrate changes in the House rules, making it more difficult to begin ethics investigations. Democrats are refusing to go along with those changes. So in effect, currently there is no ethics committee monitoring the House of Representatives. Still, Congressman DeLay denies he has done anything wrong, and today wrote the whole thing off to partisan politics. ... So far, there is no evidence that DeLay is losing support in his home district.
In a March 3 Washington Post article titled "DeLay Moves to Protect His Political Base Back in Texas," staff reporter Mike Allen noted the erosion of support for DeLay in his home district following DeLay's admonishment by the House ethics committee in October 2004. Allen wrote that DeLay, "struggling to protect his Washington power base as legal and ethical issues fester, also has to watch his back on the home front." He continued:
Though the change has received little notice, DeLay's strength in his suburban Houston congressional district of strip malls and housing developments has eroded considerably -- forcing him to renew his focus on protecting his seat. DeLay garnered 55 percent of the vote in the November election against a relatively unknown Democrat, an unusually modest showing for a veteran House member who is one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. ... DeLay took 60 percent of the vote in 2000 and 63 percent in 2002.
Further undermining Wilson's assertion that "there is no evidence" of a loss of support for DeLay in his district, The Dallas Morning News reported on March 31 that "signs of trouble" for DeLay are "visible even here, in the heart of his Republican district south of Houston":
At home, demonstrators waving placards showed up Tuesday outside the opening of his new district office in Clear Lake. A liberal group announced plans to run TV commercials in the district attacking the congressman and highlighting scandals that have embroiled former DeLay aides and advisers. ... Analysts say the escalating series of unfavorable stories, one after another, about criminal investigations and ethical inquiries could imperil Mr. DeLay's hold on power in Washington and even his re-election chances.
This is not the first time that Wilson and other Fox News hosts and correspondents have issued misleading reports about DeLay. On March 27, Wilson downplayed the significance of the ethics charges against DeLay by omitting key facts about both DeLay's personal conduct and recent steps by Republicans to weaken the House ethics committee. On January 4, Fox News contributor Fred Barnes misrepresented the House ethics committee's admonishment of DeLay and dismissed it as "ridiculous" and part of "a widespread Democratic effort to persecute Tom DeLay." On October 7, 2004, several Fox News contributors downplayed the importance of the admonishment by distorting the committee's findings and suggesting that rival news outlets had exaggerated the admonishment's severity. And on September 21, 2004, Wilson claimed that "some say" Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle, who is investigating DeLay, is "the most partisan Democrat in the state of Texas" -- a misleading Republican talking point that Wilson nonetheless repeated on November 17.