Fox & Friends further distorted flawed AP report on Reid's boxing tickets
Research ››› ››› JOSH KALVEN
On Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy, E.D. Hill, and Brian Kilmeade discussed Associated Press staff writer John Solomon's recent report that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had accepted free tickets to several Las Vegas boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) while "he was pressing legislation ... that [the NAC] feared might usurp its authority." But like Solomon's article, the hosts failed to note that Reid signed off on the bill the NAC opposed -- to create a federal boxing federation -- allowing its passage in the Senate.
On the May 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy, E.D. Hill, and Brian Kilmeade discussed Associated Press staff writer John Solomon's recent report that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had accepted free tickets to several Las Vegas boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) while "he was pressing legislation ... that [the NAC] feared might usurp its authority." But like Solomon's article, the hosts failed to note that, notwithstanding the NAC's opposition, Reid signed off on the bill the NAC opposed -- to create a federal boxing federation -- allowing its passage in the Senate. Moreover, the Fox & Friends crew strongly suggested that Reid had violated the Senate gift ban by accepting the free tickets but did not point out that the AP article noted that the gift ban provides an exception for gifts received from state agencies, such as the NAC.
In his May 29 article, Solomon highlighted the fact that Reid attended several Las Vegas boxing matches as the guest of the NAC at a time when the agency was lobbying him in opposition to a Senate bill that would create a federal boxing commission. But as Media Matters for America noted, Solomon's article did not note that Reid has been a long-standing supporter of greater federal regulation of boxing, and that months after attending a September 14, 2004, match at NAC's invitation, Reid allowed passage in the Senate of Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2005 -- which included the provision opposed by the agency.(Under the circumstances in which the bill was brought up -- for approval by unanimous consent -- Reid as Democratic leader would have had to affirm that there were no objections to its passage). The Fox & Friends discussion of Reid's purported ethical troubles also omitted mention of these highly relevant facts, which undermine the suggestion that Reid was improperly influenced by the NAC.
The Fox & Friends co-hosts also suggested that Reid's acceptance of the tickets represented a violation of the Senate gift ban. Doocy said, "[T]he important thing is that the gift rule in the Senate Ethics Committee is very specific. You never can take stuff if somebody is trying to get influence." And Hill added, "If they were deciding legislation about the cruise industry, would that ... mean that it's fine for every single lawmaker in Washington to take a free cruise? Of course not." In fact, as Solomon's article noted, Senate Standing Rule XXXV, commonly known as the Senate gift ban, provides an exception for gifts "paid for by the Federal Government, by a State or local government, or secured by the Government under a Government contract."
Furthermore, Doocy repeated the allegation -- baselessly advanced by Solomon in both the May 29 article and earlier articles -- that Reid is involved in the scandal surrounding disgraced former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. During the discussion of Solomon's article, Doocy remarked that the report includes more information "about the fact that Mr. Reid had done some stuff involved with Jack Abramoff and, in fact, had wound up getting some cash from some of his clients." But as Media Matters noted (here, here, and here), in his repeated attempts to link Reid to Abramoff, Solomon has failed to prove that the Democratic leader's occasional involvement in meetings and fundraising activities involving Abramoff's law firm or clients led him to take actions favorable to the lobbyist's interests.
From the May 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
HILL: Listen, I can't make any sense out of this one. You know, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, has been -- what's the phrase? Culture of corruption. There's a culture of corruption in Washington, D.C. The Republicans are corrupt --
DOOCY: They'll take stuff.
DOOCY: For influence.
HILL: Uh-oh. Senator Reid now has -- I believe he acknowledges this -- taken, on three different occasions, free tickets to some very big boxing fights and accepted them, between 2003 and 2005, at a time while the agency -- the Nevada Athletic Commission -- that gave him the tickets was trying to change federal boxing regulations.
KILMEADE: Right there you see John McCain. But sitting right next to him is Harry Reid.
DOOCY: Where's John McCain?
KILMEADE: [Boxer] Oscar De La Hoya --
DOOCY: Where do you see John McCain?
KILMEADE: Well, I don't know, can you shoot me --
DOOCY: No, just describe it in the screen.
KILMEADE: Well, here it is. Right behind Oscar De La Hoya's back -- that's John McCain.
DOOCY: Okay, so screen left. The guy in the front row with the open-collar shirt.
KILMEADE: Can you shoot the TV? Can you shoot the TV?
HILL: Blue blazer.
DOOCY: We're seeing the TV.
HILL: People at home see the TV.
KILMEADE: All right, here we go. Here's John McCain.
DOOCY: There you go. Right there.
KILMEADE: All right, there's John McCain. This is Harry Reid.
DOOCY: You know what? I'll use the Telestrator.
KILMEADE: Yeah. If you can.
DOOCY: Hold on.
KILMEADE: You got it?
DOOCY: There's John McCain right there.
DOOCY: Thank you.
HILL: Well, here's the interesting thing --
KILMEADE: And John McCain paid for his tickets.
HILL: Yeah, well --
DOOCY: Well, he did. Fourteen hundred dollars. And also, another senator who was in attendance was Senator [John] Ensign [R-NV]. But he was in a different category because he actually recused himself because his father worked at a casino where they did do boxing. Now, the important thing is, the gift rule in the Senate Ethics Committee is very specific. You never can take stuff if somebody is trying to get influence. And then, we learn more about the fact that Mr. Reid had done some stuff involved with Jack Abramoff and, in fact, had wound up getting some cash from some of his clients. Anyway, as to the decision to go to these boxing matches --
HILL: While you're deciding legislation.
DOOCY: -- about what to do. Mr. Reid was stopped by a reporter and here he is defending -- saying he didn't do anything wrong.
REID [video clip]: I would not be doing my job if I did not come to the fights. It's something that is important to do. The athletic commission has asked me to come for many, many years. I haven't had the time in the past, but I have come recently because there is federal legislation that applies to Nevada. So it's important I do it. I'm very happy I've done it. I'll continue to do it when I feel it's important.
HILL: Now, here's why there are holes in that.
DOOCY: That's what backpedaling sounds like.
HILL: If they were deciding legislation about the cruise industry, would that then make it -- mean that it's fine for every single lawmaker in Washington to take a free cruise? Of course not. And when you've got three people going to the matches and accepting tickets, one paying --
HILL: -- says he's going to pay. One says he's going to take the tickets, but I'm going to recuse myself from voting on this --
DOOCY: Not going to decide.
HILL: -- and the other says, "Give me the tickets and I'll vote."
KILMEADE: Well, here's the thing. And the legislation that they're trying to decide on is finally getting one legislative body -- a national body -- to give these fighters and all these promoters -- the promoters fees, the fighters benefits, and some type of universal rules. Las Vegas, obviously, gets a great deal of revenue from boxing. Here's the thing, if you only make a hundred -- what do they make? $130,000?
DOOCY: That's a lot of money.
KILMEADE: Right. That's a lot of money. But you can't afford to pay $1,400 for ringside tickets and go there.
DOOCY: Then don't go.
HILL: Of course you can.
KILMEADE: Yeah. So that's your answer. Don't go. I don't think you can. Between taxes --
DOOCY: You can pay for it. Sure you can. Absolutely.
HILL: Fourteen hundred dollars for tickets? You bet there are people who make $140,000 that pay that for a Super Bowl ticket, that pay that for a college playoff ticket. You bet.
KILMEADE: I don't think those are the type of people sitting ringside.
HILL: OK, listen --
KILMEADE: I think those are multi-millionaires -- Donald Trump likes -- sitting ringside. That's for a pretty big bout. For the major bouts --
HILL: A segment you'll only see here on Fox. And that is "Good News." A six-month old golden retriever safe and sound after a close encounter with a gator --
HILL: At a Florida pond.