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UPDATE: Lauer Says ‘Technically Speaking,’ It ‘May Be’ That Abramoff Gave Only to Republicans

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"UPDATE: Lauer Says ‘Technically Speaking,’ It ‘May Be’ That Abramoff Gave Only to Republicans"

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Yesterday, Today show anchor Katie Couric falsely claimed that “Democrats took money from Jack Abramoff.” Challenged on her facts, Couric said she “would look into that and clarify that for our viewers.”

Returning to the topic this morning, NBC’s Matt Lauer and Tim Russert both reiterated the right-wing talking point that the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan.

Watch it:

LAUER: Katie pressed him [Howard Dean] on that and we did some research. We went to the Center for Responsive Politics and found out that technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct. But here’s what we found. That 66 percent of the money in this situation went to Republicans, but 34 percent of the money — not from Abramoff, but from his associates and clients — went to Democrats. So, can Democrats wash their hands of this?

RUSSERT: No, they will say it is a primarily a Republican scandal because the personal money of Abramoff went only to Republicans. But Matt, the issue is broad and wide. Democrats also understand that they accept trips from lobbyists and meals and so forth, and that’s why in order to reform all this, it has to be a bipartisan approach. But Democrats get raging mad when you suggest this is a bipartisan scandal.

Matt Lauer doesn’t get it: Katie Couric’s claim was completely wrong. It simply isn’t true that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff, and there is nothing “technical” about it.

Moreover, Tim Russert’s response to Lauer was misleading. Prominent Democrats haven’t denied that corruption is widespread in Washington. They acknowledge that ethical improprieties — such as the lobbyist-funded trips that Russert mentions — are a bipartisan problem. But they are right to get “raging mad when you suggest this is a bipartisan scandal,” because the Abramoff scandal is not bipartisan. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), the Democratic “point man” on lobbying reform, summed it up best:

None of us claim that Democrats have a monopoly on virtue. … Although Democrats are certainly not without sin, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, the K Street Project “” those are Republican sins and Republican sins alone.

(HT: Galindo)

Full transcript below:

LAUER: And now let’s talk about the Abramoff scandal. Howard Dean was on this program yesterday and asserted basically that it is a Republican scandal. Let me play you a clip.

DEAN: It is a Republican-financed scandal. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff ever went to any Democrat, not one dime.

LAUER: Katie pressed him on that and we did some research. We went to the Center for Responsive Politics and found out that technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct. But here’s what we found. That 66 percent of the money in this situation went to Republicans, but 34 percent of the money — not from Abramoff, but from his associates and clients — went to Democrats. So, can Democrats wash their hands of this?

RUSSERT: No, they will say it is a primarily a Republican scandal because the personal money of Abramoff went only to Republicans. But Matt, the issue is broad and wide. Democrats also understand that they acccept trips from lobbyists and meals and so forth, and that’s why in order to reform all this, it has to be a bipartisan approach. But Democrats get raging mad when you suggest this is a bipartisan scandal. They’ll say it’s primarily Republican, but we’re willing to help clean it up.

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