ABC Resorts to Questionable Ethics ... Again

     Even though one of the network’s cameramen was arrested last week after crashing a lobbyist event in Denver during the Democratic National Convention, ABC is continuing its crusade.


     ABC’s September 1 “World News with Charles Gibson” sent chief investigative correspondent Brain Ross and his cameras undercover into various parties in St. Paul, Minn., on the eve of the Republican National Convention.


     “As the people of New Orleans were fleeing, many top GOP officials and lobbyists were dancing and drinking,” Ross said. “This was the scene Saturday night in Minneapolis with pink spotlights, pink boas and pink wigs at a party in honor of the convention president, Maria Cino. Asked about the appropriateness of the party while the Gulf was facing a hurricane, some hid their faces with their boas.”


     The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics questions those undercover and ambush tactics ABC has engaged in at the Republican and Democratic conventions. It advises to avoid these methods:


     “Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.”


     Ross has made a habit of using undercover and ambush tactics to attack lobbyists at both parties’ conventions, even though he hasn’t revealed any illegal behavior by lobbyists or other attendees. He has also ignored that lobbyists perform a legitimate and legal function with constitutional protections, as Michael Barrone explained in a U.S. News & World Report column June 12.


     Ross ambushed one attendee, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and asked him if he thought it was appropriate for him to be attending the party. Without explaining how any of the activities were illegal, Ross criticized partygoers for celebrating in spite of the scaled back convention.


     “Yet only a few hours [after announcements that convention activities would be minimized], the National Rifle Association, Lockheed Martin and the American Trucking Association took over a downtown bar for a party that went into the early hours. The band was called ‘Hookers and Blow,’” Ross said.


     ABC News was polite enough to point out in a story posted on its Web site that there was no evidence of any actual prostitutes or cocaine.


     Ross acknowledged that “at some parties lobbyists were asking guests to contribute to the Red Cross,” but added that the party he chose to highlight didn’t encourage contributions to relief efforts.


     ABC has continued its undercover and ambush methods even though ABC News cameraman Asa Eslocker was arrested in Denver on August 27 and charged with interference, trespass and failure to obey a lawful order.