Looking for "another Solyndra," ABC News has run several reports about $1 billion in federal loans to advanced car companies Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors. ABC's big scoop last week -- that Fisker hired a company in Finland to assemble some if its cars -- was actually a recycled story pushed by Fox News more than two years ago.
ABC delivered another round of reports last night and got some of its facts wrong. Nightline host Terry Moran introduced the segment as a story about Obama's 2009 stimulus bill:
MORAN: Two and a half years ago President Obama pushed a $787 billion stimulus bill through Congress that he said would create millions of jobs, but now the president's under attack by critics who say that stimulus hasn't created a significant number of jobs and costs too much. Tonight ABC's Brian Ross looks at two companies that received a billion in government loans and asks, what did they do with it?
Actually, these loans don't have anything to do with the stimulus package (which, by the way, increased employment by 1 to 2.9 million as of August, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. If ABC thinks that isn't a "significant number," it should say so.)
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program was established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which received broad bipartisan support. President Bush and Congress determined that investing in energy-efficient vehicles was worth risking $7.5 billion, which is how much they gave the program to cover the cost of any defaults or delinquencies.
Somehow, ABC managed to avoid mentioning any of this in its three reports on the loans yesterday.
A story touted as "an ABC News exclusive" actually rehashes a flawed narrative pushed by Fox News more than two years ago.
In collaboration with iWatch News, Brian Ross and ABC's "investigative unit" reported late last week that Fisker Automotive, a hybrid car maker that received a federal loan, "is assembling its first line of cars in Finland." The loan itself, however, can only be used to support operations based in the U.S.
ABC published the story, titled "Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland," on Thursday night and Ross reported the "ABC News exclusive" on Friday's edition of Good Morning America. Ross said that World News and Nightline would also feature the story on Friday, but ABC did not run those segments.
Instead, Ross appeared on the Fox Business Network Friday night, where he told host David Asman that those in the administration criticizing his reporting "just don't like the takeaway, which is that they got the loan and they're building the car in Finland."
But this news isn't new. In fact, it was explained by the Department of Energy (DOE) in a September 2009 press release announcing the conditional loan. According to the release, "final assembly" of the high-end Fisker Karma "will be done overseas." Indeed, Fisker had a contract to assemble the Karma in Finland before the company ever received funds from DOE. ABC failed to note this fact and the misunderstanding was compounded by other news outlets covering ABC's report.
The loan supports design work carried out in Michigan and California for the Karma, as well as the assembly of Fisker's lower-cost hybrid, Project Nina, which will take place at a former GM factory in Wilmington, Deleware. Fisker began hiring for the Delaware plant in June.
In the rush to cover the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that received a loan guarantee from the federal government, many news media outlets have misrepresented or omitted key facts.
A couple of days ago, ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross was reportedly roughly handled by members of Rep. Michele Bachmann's security team as he tried to ask the Republican presidential candidate about reports that she suffers from migraine headaches.
The behavior of Bachmann's staff has drawn criticism from several quarters, including (not surprisingly) ABC. ABC News senior vice president Jeffrey Schneider told the Washington Post: "It's unfortunate when physicality is involved. [Ross] was just doing his job."
Bachmann, however, does have the support Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism. Blogger Warner Todd Huston wrote today that "what happened to Ross is fairly mild and all his fault," and then responded to Schneider's quote with perhaps the most ridiculously inexplicable Nazi reference the internet has ever seen:
If you listen to the silly hyperbole from the far left blogrags, the media is being treated like the Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square by Bachmann's campaign staff. Another lefty site says that Bachmann is indulging in "open conflict" with the press. Neither characterization is even close to the truth.
Jeffrey Schneider, a senior vice president for ABC news, denounced the incident saying, "He was certainly shoved around and pushed. It's unfortunate when physicality is involved. He was just doing his job."
I remember members of an army sometime in the mid 1940s saying that they were innocent because they were just doing their jobs, too.
Hah! Brian Ross is a Nazi war criminal! What?
Even better, Huston's absurd Godwinning is sandwiched between four separate condemnations of "hyperbole" from the media and progressives:
In a fit of wild hyperbole, Ross called his treatment by Bachmann similar to the treatment he's received "mostly by Mafia people"...
If you listen to the silly hyperbole from the far left blogrags...
With all this hyperbole and gnashing of teeth by the left...
In 2011 a reporter was simply blocked from getting to a candidate but not thrown to the ground. Result = outrage and hyperbole.
So Breitbart's Big Journalism wants us to get past all the overheated and outrageous rhetoric and focus on how ABC's Brian Ross is worse than Hitler. Perhaps then we can move on to the pressing matter of the crippling lack of self-awareness on right-wing blogs.
Last Friday, ABC News' Brian Ross reported the story of Brent Furer -- an aide to Sen. David Vitter -- who entered "a guilty plea for a violent attack on an ex-girlfriend with a knife." In the report, Ross added that Sen. Vitter "kept [Furer] on staff after a five day suspension without pay and continued to use him as his point person on women's issues" and that it was only after ABC's initial report on the story that the staffer offered his resignation.
In reporting the story, Ross and ABC investigative reporter Matthew Mosk were unable to interview Sen. Vitter who avoided their various attempts to discuss the issue:
Mosk: We haven't been able to get an answer from Sen. Vitter as to why he kept him on for so long.
Ross: In fact, you and I have been trying to find Sen. Vitter for the last week or so spending long hours in front of the many fundraisers he's had but he's dodged us.
Mosk: He has a good understanding of where to find the back door and back alley.
Ross: You caught up with him just briefly, what did he say to you?
Mosk: He said he did not have time to talk to us. He put his phone to his ear and bolted into his office building.
In an internet video released this week by Vitter's 2010 Democratic challenger, the Louisiana Senator is seen in a brief snippet of amateur video discussing the issue with Mike Hoss, an anchor for WWL, CBS' local New Orleans affiliate.
A search of TVeyes.com reveals that WWL has yet to cover the story or air Hoss' interview of Sen. Vitter -- a finding confirmed by WWL news director Chris Slaughter during a phone conversation with Media Matters.
The fact that WWL has yet to air the interview or cover the story is all the more intriguing given the fact that ABC News was unable to directly question Vitter.
So, why hasn't WWL covered the story or run its Vitter interview?
Slaughter said the issue "is on a list of potential stories we are considering. We are doing additional research."
Asked if there was a timeline for WWL's consideration of the story or the airing of its interview with Vitter, Slaughter replied, "No, not at all."
When presented with the juxtaposition of ABC News being unable to pin Vitter down for an interview while WWL's Hoss had been successful, Slaughter said only, "If CBS is interested in the story, we'd be happy to provide them with the video."
From the August 14 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
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On ABC's Good Morning America, Brian Ross asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton's "delay" in releasing tax returns "has raised a lot of questions," including "whether they paid their taxes like average Americans, or like the super-rich they have become." At no point during the segment did anyone, including Ross, who has falsely asserted that Sen. John McCain released his tax returns, question McCain's "delay."
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Noting the National Archives' release of Sen. Hillary Clinton's daily schedule during her time as first lady, ABC's Brian Ross stated, "Senator Clinton, unlike Senators [Barack] Obama and [John] McCain, has still not released any of her tax returns." In fact, McCain reportedly has not released any of his tax returns.
On Good Morning America, ABC's Brian Ross reported on a 2001 sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Sen. Barack Obama's church, in which Wright made controversial remarks regarding the 9-11 terrorist attacks. While Ross noted that Obama has said that Wright is "like an old uncle, who sometimes says things I don't agree with," at no point did Ross report that Obama has specifically disagreed with Wright's 9-11 remarks.