Network newscasts comply with White House declaration that "[n]othing more will come from" resignation of Susan Ralston, a Bush aide with ties to Abramoff

››› ››› BEN FISHEL

Despite front-page coverage in The Washington Post and The New York Times, the resignation of Susan Ralston, a key aide to White House senior adviser Karl Rove, soon after a congressional report disclosed Ralston's extensive connections with Jack Abramoff, has gone unreported on ABC, NBC, and CBS.

Newscasts on the three major television networks have completely ignored the resignation of Susan Ralston, a key aide to White House senior adviser Karl Rove, soon after a congressional report disclosed Ralston's alleged connections to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and receipt of numerous tickets to sporting events and concerts from Abramoff. The story appeared on the front page of The Washington Post and The New York Times on October 7. The Post article included a quote from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who stated that, following Ralston's resignation, "Nothing more will come from the [congressional] report, no further fallout from the report." But the news of Ralston's departure -- as well as the White House's purporting to wash its hands of the matter -- has gone unreported on ABC, NBC, and CBS, including weekend and morning programming, according to a Media Matters for America review.*

Ralston, formerly an administrative assistant to Abramoff, who was sentenced to more than five years in prison in March after pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, stepped down from her position as special assistant to President Bush on October 6. The move came soon after a House Government Reform Committee report documented hundreds of contacts that Abramoff's lobbying group had with the White House and singled out Ralston as "the most frequent recipient of [sporting event and concert] tickets from Abramoff." Further, the report alleged that Abramoff repeatedly lobbied Ralston after she became a top aide to Rove and that she played an integral role in establishing lobbying contacts, meals, and special events for White House officials.

An October 9 Times editorial noted the lack of attention given to the Ralston resignation, stating: "The sordid Mark Foley controversy has diverted public attention from another major Washington ethics scandal -- the influence peddling involving the disgraced former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. That's good news for the Bush administration."

And an October 8 Post editorial noted, "Ms. Perino's comments were occasioned by Friday afternoon's announcement that Ms. Ralston was resigning. Not, mind you, because she did anything wrong but because, as Ms. Perino said, 'she did not want to be a distraction to the White House at this important time.' White House lawyers won't bother to figure out whether Ms. Ralston violated the gift rules, officials said, because she's leaving anyway."

Posted In
Government, Ethics
Network/Outlet
CBS, NBC, ABC
Stories/Interests
Abramoff Scandal
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