From Pro Publica:
Bank Employing GOP House Leader’s Wife Got Bailout Bucks
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, a rising star in the Republican party, has been a prominent voice demanding accountability in how the government doles out hundreds of billions for bank bailouts.
“I think most American taxpayers now are sort of scratching their head,” Cantor told CNN in December, “wondering when all this bailout stuff is going to end. And probably thinking, ‘You know, when is my bailout coming?’”
This Thursday, Cantor cast a high-profile vote opposing release of another $350 billion in bailout funds. Unpublicized until now was a recent development: The Treasury Department used $267 million of taxpayer funds to buy preferred stock in a private banking company that employs Cantor’s wife.
Why is this news?
I can understand that if Cantor had voted for the release of additional TARP funds and if he could have known in advance how the funds would be distributed and if he had the ability to direct the funds why this might be construed as a conflict of interests. But none of that is true.
In my opinion, that makes this a non-story, which becomes apparent to anyone who reads the entire article. However, for those who read just the headline and possibly the first paragraph or two, the clear implication is that Eric Cantor is guilty of some kind of shady dealings to benefit his wife’s employer.
Of course, as professional journalists, Aram Roston and Paul Kiel should know that. By choosing to publish this non-story as news, Roston and Kiel reveal their bias and make the choice of headline all the more revealing. Pro Publica’s tagline of “Journalism in the Public Interest” makes it all the more disappointing.