AVALLONE: USA Today’s Hit Piece On Scalise Leaves Out Half The Story

Editor’s Note: A guest post by Louis R. Avallone, an attorney and chairman of the Caddo Parish Republican Party.

It’s been said if you want to ruin the truth, stretch it, and after reading the article in your Sunday, January 15, 2017 edition titled, “In need of political influence? Pay up,” that is certainly the case here.

In that article, USA Today reporter, Mary Trohan, launches into a terribly one-sided, myopic, Geraldo Rivera-like reporting about U.S. Representative Steve Scalise and she “uncovers” that he solicits financial contributions from voters for campaigning purposes – and not only that – but he may also get together with those voters to have café au’lait, from time to time.

While this could not be a surprise to anyone, considering Ms. Trohan acknowledges that all such fundraising practices are legally conducted and reported to the Federal Elections Commission, she manages to stretch this revelation into nearly one thousand words. In fact, the discussion on Scalise’s campaign fundraising comprises 97% of her article, with some space reserved for jabbing Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump.

What is noticeably absent from Ms. Trohan’s reporting is the scant mention of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, or any elected official that is not Republican – even though the largest joint fundraising committee in the 2016 cycle was The Hillary Victory Fund.

In fact, there was plenty of space in the article for Ms. Trohan to mention a Wall Street Journal report about Secretary Clinton helping a major bank that donated to the Clinton Foundation. But she didn’t. Or a New York Times report on Secretary Clinton supporting a uranium deal that helped a Clinton Foundation donor. But she didn’t. Or an International Business Times report on Clinton backing arms deals, approving contracts, pushing trade deals and supporting offshore drilling legislation that helped major foundation and campaign donors.

Or an analysis by Elizabeth Warren alleging that Clinton supported a bankruptcy bill in Congress to help her campaign donors in the financial industry. She could have also squeezed in that Hillary was paid $2.8 million in speaking fees from the healthcare industry before reversing her support for single-payer healthcare. But she didn’t.

Ms. Trohan could have mentioned too about the political action committees that gave $90,000 to the Democratic National Committee last year in order to qualify for two tickets to an “exclusive roundtable and campaign briefing with high-level Democratic officials.”

She could have made room to mention that in 1997, some Democratic fund-raisers openly sold approximately invitations to White House coffees with President Bill Clinton – 103 in total – usually for $50,000 each, but many more as much as $100,000. But she didn’t.

In fact, since she was already at the Federal Election Commission researching her article, she would have found data that showed how the Democrats raised $3.1 million from people who attended these White House coffees with Bill. But she didn’t.

The bottom line here is that the influence of money in political campaigns, and its effect on the well-being of our republic, is a much larger – and important – discussion than a lop-sided report that masks the universality of the issue, regardless of whether you are on the left, the right, or somewhere in between.

As in life, integrity matters in reporting. Or as Thomas Jefferson put it, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” And we all could do more to remember that.

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