On Mike Rosen's Newsradio 850 KOA show, guest Byron York falsely claimed that "the two leading newspapers in the nation ... simply did not report on" the 1989 impeachment of U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), who was being considered for a House committee chairmanship. In fact, both The New York Times and The Washington Post recently published at least five articles, columns, or editorials regarding Hastings' controversial past.
During the November 29 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show, guest and National Review White House correspondent Byron York falsely claimed that "in the last several weeks ... the two leading newspapers in the nation, The Washington Post and The New York Times, simply did not report on" the 1989 impeachment of U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), from his federal judgeship. In fact, between November 1 and the broadcast, both the Post and the Times published at least five articles, columns, or editorials that dealt with Hastings' controversial past, including the impeachment.
During the broadcast, Rosen and York were discussing incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) recent decision to deny Hastings the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee because of his tainted past. According to a November 28 New York Times article, "The decision by Mrs. Pelosi, the incoming speaker, ended weeks of speculation over whether she would tap Mr. Hastings, tainted by an old bribery scandal, for one of the most sensitive chairmanships when the Democrats take control of Congress in January." The Times further reported that "members of her staff had said she favored Mr. Hastings. But his position was weakened because he was impeached and removed as a federal judge in 1989 in connection with a bribery case. He was subsequently acquitted in the criminal case."
Referring to Hastings' ethical troubles, Rosen asked, "How much coverage has all of this gotten in the ... so-called mainstream press?" In reply, York falsely stated that aside from one news article and one op-ed column, "The Washington Post did not report ... about the details" of Hastings' impeachment. Furthermore, York claimed that the Post article he cited "was one more article than The New York Times has published in the last several weeks."
From the November 29 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:
ROSEN: How much coverage has all of this gotten in the, the so-called mainstream press leading up to the moment of truth, where Pelosi would name Hastings to be the new chairman of the Intelligence Committee, which, as I indicated a moment ago, she has now backed off of and is not going to make him the House Intelligence Committee chairman?
YORK: Boy, that's a really fascinating thing. I noticed this last night, The Washington Post today on its front page reports Pelosi's decision. And I noticed that the story includes a lot of details about the case. And the reason they include a lot of details about the case is that readers of The Washington Post wouldn't know what was going on if they hadn't included those, because in these last few weeks when this was becoming a real headache for the incoming speaker of the House, The Washington Post did not report anything on the, about the details of the case. There was one column on the op-ed page by a woman named Ruth Marcus, a former reporter at the Post who covered the trial -- the Hastings matter -- at the time. And it was a very, very anti-Hastings column. That was the only thing that was published concerning any of the details of the Hastings impeachment case -- and, by the way, that was one more article than The New York Times has published in the last several weeks.
ROSEN: How could they have ignored this?
YORK: I just don't know. I mean, it is really quite amazing because this was becoming, you know, especially in light of the whole John Murtha-Steny Hoyer thing in which Nancy Pelosi threw her weight behind her friend John Murtha against Steny Hoyer -- she was unsuccessful. Then comes this next possible problem area for her where, is she going to back Alcee Hastings, a guy who was impeached and removed from office, for chairman of the House Judiciary Committee -- one of the most sensitive positions on the Hill? Was she going to do that? I mean, this became a big deal for her, and yet the two leading newspapers in the nation, The Washington Post and The New York Times, simply did not report on what the case was actually about.
ROSEN: Not because it could be embarrassing for Democrats, do you suppose?
YORK: Oh, I don't know. I mean, they were reporting other things that could be embarrassing for Democrats, but, boy, they sure ignored this one.
In fact, in addition to the article and the column York cited, The Washington Post between November 1 and November 29 published at least five articles or columns related to controversy over Hastings' impeachment and his possible appointment as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
A November 10 article in the Post reported that "Hastings, 70, is the leading candidate for chairman of the [House Intelligence] committee" before noting, "[h]e has the distinction of being the only sitting member of the House to have been impeached by the same chamber. In 1988, he was tossed out of his federal judgeship over allegations of extorting a bribe."
A November 16 article in the Post reported that "Hastings faces a steep uphill climb in his bid for the intelligence post because of past ethics problems." The article further noted:
For Pelosi, the decision of whether to appoint Hastings as intelligence chairman is something of a headache. Hastings is haunted by accusations that, as a judge, he accepted a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence in a perjury case.
Hastings was acquitted of bribery and perjury charges by a jury in a criminal trial, but the House impeached him in 1989, and the Senate later removed him from the bench. When Hastings challenged the decision in federal court, a judge, Stanley Sporkin, ruled in his favor and remanded the case to the Senate. The removal was eventually upheld.
On November 15, a Post column by media critic Howard Kurtz about recent criticism of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) noted The New Republic "takes umbrage at Nancy Pelosi's plans to pass over Jane Harman [Democratic Representative from California] for a key chairmanship in favor of Alcee Hastings, a former federal judge who was impeached on bribery charges."
Kurtz's November 16 column related the comments of Lawrence O'Donnell, who noted, "the damage Murtha's ethics history can do to the Pelosi Speakership is nothing compared to what Alcee Hastings can do." Kurtz wrote:
"Hastings was a Florida federal judge who was indicted for extortion and bribery and was found not guilty by a jury. A judicial panel then recommended his removal from the bench, which, for a federal judge means impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate. Hastings was convicted by the Senate in 1989 and removed from the bench, whereupon he ran for Congress and won ...
"If [Bush aide Karl] Rove had been smart enough to make Alcee Hastings a household term during the campaign, the Democrats would not have won as many seats. If Pelosi makes Hastings a chairman, Rove won't miss the shot this time. The Democrats would instantly take over as the party of corruption. Voters would get a terrible more-of-the-same feeling right off the bat and their throw-the-bums-out attitude would not subside. The first woman Speaker could be a two-year story."
Also, a "Washington in Brief" article on November 23 noted, "A U.S. lawmaker ousted as a federal judge in 1989 on corruption charges tried to convince Democratic colleagues he deserves to head a congressional committee designed to help protect America's security. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, elected without opposition to an eighth term on Nov. 7, maintains he did nothing wrong and asked fellow Democrats in the House to review what he denounced as the unfounded case against him."
Likewise, contrary to York's implication that the Times didn't write about Hastings "in the last several weeks," the Times published articles or columns related to Hastings on November 9, 10, 18, 25, and 28.
A November 9 Times editorial (subscription required) stated that Pelosi "is said to be considering Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida, a former federal judge who was impeached on bribery charges and removed from the bench. If she wanted to put her wrong foot forward, that would be a good way to do it."
Similarly, a November 10 Times article (subscription required) reported, "The selection of Mr. Hastings, a black member of the committee, would win Ms. Pelosi support from the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. But his past could provide ammunition for Republicans: Mr. Hastings was impeached and removed by the Senate from a federal judgeship in 1989 on a bribery charge. (He was acquitted in the related criminal case.)"
Finally, in addition to the November 28 article, two recent columns in the Times also noted Hastings' ethical troubles. A November 18 column (subscription required) by Maureen Dowd noted that Pelosi might offer "the [House Intelligence committee] chairmanship either to the ethically challenged Alcee Hastings of Florida or a compromise candidate, Silvestre Reyes of Texas." A November 25 guest column (subscription required) by Thomas B. Edsall noted, "The first test of Pelosi's ability to distinguish between broad-based and special interests will be when she decides whether to appoint Alcee Hastings, the once-impeached federal judge, to head the House Intelligence Committee."