ABC News responds: The first time Jake Tapper ‘heard of Mark Levin pushing this story was in your post.’

tapperThis morning, ThinkProgress documented a series of facts about how right-wing radio helped push a false political attack against President Obama. The attack began with a false assertion made by a corporate lawyer named Tom Lauria who appeared on a conservative radio show. The comment was taken up by a right-wing radio host who works for ABC. The story then got the attention of ABC’s Jake Tapper who took it to the White House for comment (the White House denied it). And finally, it ended up on Drudge. An ABC News spokesperson issued a statement to ThinkProgress denying that Tapper first learned of the story from a right-wing radio host. ABC explains that Tapper simply “overheard” an unnamed radio reporter talking about the matter:

Your assertion that Jake reported on this matter because he was encouraged to do so by conservative talk radio hosts or their listeners is inaccurate. No one pressured him, no one peddled anything to him, and no one reached out to him to cover this. Indeed, the first he heard of Mark Levin pushing this story was in your post.

Jake first heard of this story when he overheard a radio reporter talking about Mr. Lauria’s interview with WJR-AM. Having covered the Chrysler deal for ABC News, and having spoken to many Obama administration officials about the hedge funds whom President Obama disparaged, Jake was also interested in hearing the other side of the story.

He did due diligence on Lauria, found he was a leading bankruptcy attorney who represents players in this debate, with no discernible partisan bias, and called him up. He also reached out to the White House and got its denial of the story. Your implication is completely different from what actually happened.

By reporting the story, Tapper chose to accept the validity of Lauria’s claim that the White House could get “the full force of the White House press corps” to threaten a private company. Despite the fact that the parties with direct knowledge — the White House and Perella Weinberg — denied to ABC that any threats were made, Tapper still reported Lauria’s false accusation on his “Political Punch” blog. Drudge and other right-wing outlets are glad he did.