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Rep. Coble and FOX News Target Jesse Jackson Sr.
Kay Gardner

Even as the Republican Senators scream for an end to the politics of personal destruction, one of their colleagues in the House, Representative Howard Coble of North Carolina, is working in collusion with Bill O'Reilly of FOX News to launch an investigation of Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Coble presented a five-minute Special Order speech yesterday on the House floor in which he said, in part:

"When this story broke, I heard it said time and time again, that the story would be summarily dismissed because Jesse Jackson is too powerful. No one wants to annoy Jesse Jackson. I am attempting to annoy no one, Mr. Speaker. I, however, am imploring the national media to submit to a New Year's resolution that, henceforth, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats be objectively fed from the same journalistic spoon and the Jesse Jackson case is one of several that could serve as a springboard for this purpose. This is an appropriate time, as we begin a new year, it seems to me, for the media to scrap the double standard it has nurtured for so long and embrace a single standard of reporting. If conservative Republicans are taken to the woodshed by the media, then so should liberal Democrats."

Representative Coble then appeared on The Factor with Bill O'Reilly, whose extremist right-wing views are the staple of the Fox News Network fare of Democrat-bashing and hate-mongering. O'Reilly pleaded with Coble to take up their cause and present the Jackson matter to the House for investigation. To paraphrase, O'Reilly said they could not act alone on this matter - that they needed someone inside the Congress, working with an Attorney General John Ashcroft - to expose Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition and launch a full-scale investigation. And in the true spirit of bipartisanship, Representative Coble agreed.

I spoke at length with a spokesperson for Coble today. Mr. Ed McDonald stated that Coble wasn't exactly "working with" FOX News, but simply waiting for them to turn over their investigative materials to him. He also said they had a stack of emails "two inches thick" that had been sent in to their office since Coble appeared on the O'Reilly Factor which supported Coble's call for an investigation.

So, as our Senators roll over and play dead, and John Ashcroft ascends to the throne of one of the most powerful bully pulpits in our land, we have Rupert Murdock and his minions at FOX news using their media outlet to coerce and collaborate with Republican politicians to launch investigations of Democratic leaders. This is a dangerous and frightening trend. In light of the bitter wounds still open and bleeding in this country, Representative Coble is taking his marching orders from a partisan news network and seeking to pour salt in said wounds.

A spokesperson for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, head of the Black Caucus, suggested we let Representative Coble know how we felt about his actions. I have already done so. And while Coble may not ever be able to mount enough support to bring this to fruition, this sets a dangerous precedent and a clear signal to outlets like FOX News that they can force their destructive partisan politics down our throats and have the cooperation of elected Representatives to do so. It is a slippery slope I do not think we need to start down, and especially not with a man like John Ashcroft sitting in the seat of Attorney General.

Contact information for Coble:
202-225-3065 (office)
202-225-8811 (fax)