Capitol Hill Republican aides and at least one lawmaker are hopping mad this morning about what they perceive to be a blatantly biased headline and story in The Hill Thursday afternoon. They insist that the story by Alex Bolton is clearly Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid‘s (D-Nev.) spin reported as fact.
The gist of Bolton’s story: Reid announced that he was cancelling additional floor votes Thursday so Brown couldn’t bow out of debating his opponent Elizabeth Warren. The headline that has GOPers on the Hill “furious” is this: “Reid cancels Senate floor votes to force Scott Brown to debate Elizabeth Warren.” Politico‘s headline on the same story, by the way, is: “Reid: No votes so Brown can debate.” Brown had told a Boston paper that votes may prevent him from participating in the debate. Brown and Warren did square off in their first debate last night.
Still, among the things upsetting the GOP applecart is the charge that the publication’s headline and lede do not use quotes or do anything to demonstrate that this is Reid’s opinion.
“If The Hill doesn’t want to appear as if it’s doing the bidding of Harry Reid and the DSCC, the newsroom should wait more than 24 hours after being forced to change an anti-Brown piece before launching a second unfair attack,” said a senior Hill Republican who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
When asked for comment on the bias charge, The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Hugo Gurdon replied… by email, “The Hill is well known for being free of ideological or partisan bias. Any suggestion to the contrary is flatly untrue.”
Earlier this week, The Hill reported that Sen. Brown dodged a question about whether he still supports Mitt Romney. But when an all out freakout ensued from Romney Campaign HQ, The Hill later updated their report to say that the Senate candidate’s office insisted that Brown supports Romney but that an early inquiry about it was met with an “indirect response.” On Wednesday during Senate votes there was a reporter scrum in the Capitol, which Brown aides recorded, followed by a side conversation that wasn’t record. The Hill included the transcript in the story, showing that Brown evaded the question. On Thursday, The Hill pressed Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, on whether he supports President Obama. He would not answer the question.
Gurdon disputes any extraordinary weight placed on the publication’s update of the story. “Sen. Brown’s campaign has acknowledged in writing to me that The Hill’s story was fair. [Any] suggestion that we changed it is misleading. We updated the story with new information when the senator’s staff provided it.”
We reached out to The Hill for comment.