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Since January 1, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) has been a guest on two NBC News programs and has participated in three cable news interviews. But on only one of these programs did a host mention that DeLay is currently under indictment in Texas on both money laundering and conspiracy* charges relating to a campaign finance probe. The other four programs also failed to note that DeLay was forced from the House leadership by his own party following his indictment in 2005 and resigned from Congress in 2006 after Tony C. Rudy, his former deputy chief of staff, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges related to the federal investigation surrounding convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff:
- DeLay appeared on the March 18 edition of NBC's Meet the Press to discuss the war in Iraq, the war on terror, and his new book. In his lead-in to the program, host Tim Russert introduced DeLay as "former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, author of No Retreat, No Surrender [Sentinel, March 2007]." At no point during the broadcast did Russert mention DeLay's criminal indictment or resignation from Congress.
- DeLay appeared on the February 7 edition of CNN's The Situation Room to discuss the 2008 presidential campaigns and, in particular, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Host Wolf Blitzer introduced the segment: "One key Republican left Capitol Hill as a scandal overtook his party, but can the man they used to call 'the Hammer' now launch a conservative comeback? That would be the former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay." Blitzer failed to note that the scandal that "overtook" the Republican Party involved DeLay's indictment and the investigation into his office's ties to Abramoff.
- On January 9, DeLay appeared on Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto to discuss the Democrats' first 100 hours in control of the 110th Congress. At no point did host Neil Cavuto note DeLay's indictment or resignation.
- DeLay was also a guest on the February 6 edition of Your World, on which Cavuto introduced him as "former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay." The two then discussed DeLay's thoughts on former New York City mayor and candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Rudy Giuliani. Again, Cavuto did not mention DeLay's legal troubles.
By contrast, during an interview on the March 20 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira addressed DeLay's indictment. She asked him: "[Y]ou say that one of the reasons Republicans lost control of the Congress was because of a general perception of Republican incompetence and lack of principles. But many critics say that you were a part of that problem -- that you were cited by the House ethics committee numerous times, indicted on campaign finance-related charges, and that two of your top aides pled guilty in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. So what responsibility do you think you bear?"
From the February 7, 7 p.m. ET, edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Let's move on to the shock of November's elections. It may be wearing off, but for some conservatives, they're already having nightmares about 2008. Those nightmares involve a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency.
One key Republican left Capitol Hill as a scandal overtook his party, but can the man they used to call "the Hammer" now launch a conservative comeback? That would be the former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
[begin video clip]
BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.
DeLAY: My pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.
Hillary Clinton -- you fear she may, may be unbeatable right now, is that right?
From the March 20 edition of NBC's Today:
VIEIRA: Let me talk about that, because it's not just Republicans in the White House that are in trouble. It's the Republican Party in general. And in your book, you say that one of the reasons Republicans lost control of the Congress was because of a general perception of Republican incompetence and lack of principles. But many critics say that you were a part of that problem -- that you were cited by the House ethics committee numerous times, indicted on campaign finance-related charges, and that two of your top aides pled guilty in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. So what responsibility do you think you bear?
DeLAY: Well, first of all, I disagree with what you just laid out. I have never been found --
VIEIRA: Where do you disagree?
DeLAY: Well, I have never been found guilty of any ethics charges. I have not been cited by the ethics committee on anything. Most of the charges brought against me were frivolous. They've all been dismissed. I even had a racketeering suit brought against me that was --
VIEIRA: You don't bear any responsibility for this perception of Republicans as being corrupt?
DeLAY: I haven't done anything wrong. This was a strategy, a concerted strategy by the Democrats announced 12 years ago by the campaign committee and [Rep.] Pat Kennedy [D-RI] that they were going to demonize Tom DeLay. It was on their website. And so --
VIEIRA: It worked.
DeLAY: It worked, unfortunately.
* Clarification: This item originally linked to an indictment filed on September 28, 2005 -- which charged Tom DeLay with conspiracy to violate the Texas election code -- and to an October 3, 2005, indictment on separate money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges arising out of the campaign finance probe on. The conspiracy to violate the Texas election code charge was dismissed by a state district judge in December 2005. On June 27, The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld that decision in a 5-4 ruling. The money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges listed in the October 2005 indictment remain pending.