PI Original Progress Illinois Tuesday June 2nd, 2009, 11:28am

Fox News Distorts AP Story On Durbin

Media Matters caught the oh-so-talented hosts of Fox News Channel's morning show falsely claiming that an AP story published yesterday accuses Sen. Dick Durbin of involvement in a "pay-to-play" scheme with Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  Be sure to watch the on-screen text...

Media Matters caught the oh-so-talented hosts of Fox News Channel's morning show falsely claiming that an AP story published yesterday accuses Sen. Dick Durbin of involvement in a "pay-to-play" scheme with Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  Be sure to watch the on-screen text:

The AP article in question actually reported the following:

Just two weeks before his arrest on corruption charges, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich floated a plan to give President Barack Obama's former Senate seat to the daughter of his biggest political rival in return for concessions on his pet projects, people familiar with the plan told The Associated Press.

Blagojevich told Sen. Dick Durbin he was thinking of naming Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the seat, according to two Durbin aides who spoke on condition of anonymity.

As Media Matters points out, the article "did not include any suggestion that Durbin was involved in a 'pay-for-play scheme' or that Durbin would have benefited personally from the proposal that Blagojevich 'floated' to him." 

The AP did go on to report that Durbin offered to help "possible broker an agreement" between Blagojevich and the Madigans.  But there is no indication that campaign contributions (the "pay" in "pay-to-play") were ever discussed.

Via Capitol Fax, comes more detail from Durbin's camp:

Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker said the two discussed about 20 possible appointments for the senate seat, of which Madigan was one, and Blagojevich had asked the senator’s opinion about the decision.

“Sen Durbin tried to get across two messages. Pick someone who can hit the ground running as a senator, and number two, find someone who can be appointed quickly,” Shoemaker told The Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

This is really a non-story.  However, some of the AP headlines sensationalized it as an important scoop.  And the Fox News hosts clearly couldn't help themselves.   

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