AP’s John Solomon: The Story So Far

A bit more about John Solomon, the long-time Associated Press investigative reporter who’s been hired away by the Washington Post.

As we’ve catalogued here on TPMm and at TPM, Solomon — a Washington-based muckraker — likes to do hard-hitting pieces that expose corruption and wrongdoing among the government’s elite. That much we applaud. However, a number of his pieces feature key distortions and omissions that serve to pump their conclusions up to the edge of what may have been supportable by the facts.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has been a favorite target of Solomon’s this past year. In February, Solomon wrote a story pulling the senior Democrat into the Abramoff mess. The piece repeatedly mentioned that an Abramoff associate lobbying Reid. Yet he did not mention that Reid voted against the measure Abramoff’s team was pushing.

In May he hit Reid again, this time for accepting passes to a boxing match from the Nevada Gaming Commission. That story — riddled by key omissions like Solomon’s referring to Reid’s free passes to the match as “tickets” (which have a face value) — and its follow-up kept me busy for a week.

And in October, Solomon reported that Reid had scored “a $1.1 million windfall” on land that “he hadn’t personally owned … for three years.” But Reid did not make a million-plus on the deal; his profit was around $700,000. Further, Solomon’s story relied on a misleading characterization of Reid’s ownership of the land, that confused the nature of the transaction.

Solomon hasn’t limited these types of stories to one target. He scored a hit on Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) this November, shortly after the Massachussetts senator made his infamous “botched joke.” In his piece, Solomon experiments with causal fallacies, using 24-year-old comments by Kerry as material. Here’s David Kurtz on that gem.

And just to drive home Solomon’s rep as an “easy mark” for stories, earlier this month the award-winning investigator wrote an oddly incurious article about the White House’s privacy oversight panel and how it had satisfied itself that the NSA was protecting Americans’ constitutional rights, even as the rest of the world lambasted the do-nothing board.

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