Conservative Legal Group Calls for Investigation of ABC Report

Lawyers at the Federalist Society are drafting a letter to ABC News President David Westin calling for an internal investigation of two ABC News journalists responsible for a “Nightline” segment that accused Justice Antonin Scalia of ethical lapses, a source close to the conservative legal group tells HUMAN EVENTS.

ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported Monday for ABC’s “Nightline” that Scalia was out of town at a Federalist Society legal seminar on the day of Chief Justice John Roberts’ swearing-in ceremony. Ross’ report showed Scalia playing tennis at the hotel where he stayed—video that might have been obtained illegally, according to the Federalist Society.

In an effort to stem criticism of its report, ABC News on Tuesday invited Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo to appear on “Nightline,” but reneged twice after insisting that Ross conduct the interview or at least appear on the program following Leo’s appearance to defend his report, the source told HUMAN EVENTS. “Nightline” anchor Terry Moran was originally supposed to conduct the interview.

Leo told HUMAN EVENTS the report resembles the Dan Rather-Mary Mapes fiasco of September 2004 when they rushed to air fake National Guard documents about President Bush.

Leo said just as sources had warned Rather and Mapes about the problems with their story on Bush, he spoke at length with Ross’ producer, Rhonda Schwartz, about factual inaccuracies in the ABC News report. One of the most glaring is the portrayal of Scalia’s using the trip as a recreational getaway when, in fact, he spent only two hours playing tennis.

Scalia taught a 10-hour course at the Federalist Society conference and produced a 481-page course book about the separation of powers, Leo said. The Federalist Society documented the errors contained in the story in a lengthy rebuttal released Monday.

“If CBS could investigate Mary Mapes and Dan Rather, certainly this false story by ABC warrants an investigation of Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz,” said the source with close ties to the Federalist Society told HUMAN EVENTS.

The details of the Federalist Society’s letter to Westin were not immediately available, but Leo spelled out the problems with the ABC News report earlier Tuesday in an interview with HUMAN EVENTS. It is unclear at this time if the Federalist Society is going to take legal action against ABC News.

Calls to ABC News earlier Tuesday by HUMAN EVENTS were not returned.