AP ran false headline on story reporting baseless GOP allegations against Pelosi

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

An Associated Press article bore the headline "GOP says water bill benefits Pelosi's husband's property," but the article itself reported that "Republicans are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of including a provision in a water redevelopment bill that could benefit property her husband owns in San Francisco" -- not alleging that it does benefit her husband's property. The article also noted that Republicans "offered no evidence of benefit to Paul Pelosi's real estate holdings" -- raising the question of why AP thought it merited publishing at all.

A version of a May 7 Associated Press article bore the headline "GOP says water bill benefits Pelosi's husband's property," but the article itself, noting the complete lack of evidence to support the Republicans' accusations, reported that "Republicans are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] of including a provision in a water redevelopment bill that could benefit property her husband owns in San Francisco" (emphasis added). In contrast with the headline, the article, written by Erica Werner, said Republicans are accusing Pelosi of doing something that could benefit her husband, not that the Republicans are "say[ing]" it does benefit her husband. Moreover, Werner -- raising the question of why AP thought the article merited publishing at all -- specifically noted that Republicans "offered no evidence of benefit to Paul Pelosi's real estate holdings" and quoted Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), as saying he doesn't "have the facts to say anything untoward has been done here."

According to the article, Hensarling -- notwithstanding his own acknowledgment of a lack of evidence -- said that Pelosi "should explain to the American people what the earmark is all about and convince people there's no financial benefit to her." Werner did quote John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), saying that "on its face it appears to be a conflict of interest," but notwithstanding the headline, Hart did not "say" that the bill "benefits Pelosi's husband's property," nor could he, given the complete lack of evidence to support such an assertion.

The AP also released the story with the headline "GOP Criticizes Pelosi's Water Project," but the article with the false headline was posted on the websites of The Examiner of Washington D.C., the San Francisco Chronicle, the Arizona Daily Star, and The Fresno Bee.

The May 7 AP story headlined "GOP says water bill benefits Pelosi's husband's property":

Republicans are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of including a provision in a water redevelopment bill that could benefit property her husband owns in San Francisco.

Aides to the San Francisco Democrat denied any connection, noting the waterfront improvements were requested by the Port of San Francisco and the four rental properties in question are at least a mile away.

Republicans, who raised the issue more than two weeks after the bill passed the House, offered no evidence of benefit to Paul Pelosi's real estate holdings.

"I don't have any facts to say anything untoward has been done here," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

"She should explain to the American people what the earmark is all about and convince people there's no financial benefit to her," he said.

John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said that "on its face it appears to be a conflict of interest."

Pelosi's project was part of the $15 billion Water Resources Development Act that passed the House April 19 by 394-25 and pays for hundreds of projects around the country.

Pelosi's measure would authorize $25 million to improve San Francisco port areas, and also would put some areas off limits to navigation so cruise ships could dock.

Her investor husband gets rental income from four buildings in a nearby commercial district.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said that she added the projects to the bill at the request of the Port of San Francisco and that her husband's holdings were not a consideration. It's "speculative at best" that they would benefit, Hammill said.

"This is another baseless attack from a Republican minority seeking to distract from real issues of the day," said Hammill.

Since Pelosi became speaker in January, Republicans have sought to stir controversy over the size of the plane she uses to fly to California, wages paid by a tuna cannery owned by a company headquartered in her district, and her use of C-SPAN footage on her blog.

The Senate is expected to take up its version of the water projects bill Tuesday. The Senate bill wouldn't authorize money for port improvements but would put some San Francisco port areas off limits to navigation.

Network/Outlet
Associated Press
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Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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