NY Times' Kornblut: "[N]o one is talking about Jack Abramoff anymore"
Hours after the Associated Press reported that former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff told Vanity Fair magazine he had close ties with President Bush and White House senior adviser Karl Rove, New York Times reporter Anne Kornblut cited what she called "good news" for the White House, which is that "no one's talking about Jack Abramoff anymore."
Hours after the Associated Press reported that disgraced former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff  told Vanity Fair magazine he had close ties with President Bush and White House senior adviser Karl Rove, New York Times reporter Anne Kornblut  said on the March 8 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: "I would say for the White House, there is one good piece of news, which is no one's talking about Jack Abramoff anymore." Abramoff -- who in early January pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion -- is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal on Capitol Hill.
Kornblut made her comments during a live 5 p.m. ET edition of Hardball as part of a panel discussion on the Dubai Ports World takeover deal :
KORNBLUT: What I find so amazing is: Where has -- where has the White House been these last -- what is it now -- two, three weeks? I mean, there is no evidence that they've changed a single mind. If anything, the resistance has only hardened. But I would say for the White House, there is one good piece of news, which is no one's talking about Jack Abramoff anymore.
The AP, however, had reported  hours earlier that Abramoff, in an interview that will be featured in Vanity Fair's April issue, claimed: "President Bush knew him well enough to joke with him about weightlifting. 'What are you benching, buff guy?' Abramoff said Bush asked him." The AP also reported that "[a]ccording to Vanity Fair, Rove's relationship with Abramoff was deeper" than Rove and the White House had previously acknowledged, and that: "Rove dined several times at Abramoff's former restaurant in Washington [D.C.], Signatures, and was Abramoff's guest in the owner's box of the NCAA basketball playoffs a few years ago, sitting for much of the game at Abramoff's side." The weblog Think Progress linked  to the AP article cited above at 11:21 a.m. ET -- nearly six hours before Kornblut's appearance on Hardball. Excerpts of Abramoff's Vanity Fair interview can be viewed here .
Neither Matthews nor any of Kornblut's fellow panelists -- including Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens -- brought up the Vanity Fair interview or the AP article.