ABC on Wednesday finally reported on the mysterious disappearance of Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. from Capitol Hill. Good Morning America's Jon Karl explained that the Representative "has been missing in action for more than a month, skipping some 80 votes and prompting speculation about where he is and what's wrong with him." CBS and NBC also covered the story on Wednesday. Unlike ABC, however, this wasn't their first report.
Having finally gotten to the story, Karl actually labeled Jackson as "one of the more outspoken liberals on Capitol Hill." He also noted that the Congressman's disappearance comes "days after his former fundraiser was arrested by the FBI for allegedly paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to doctors." On Tuesday's Today, news reader Natalie Morales mentioned the latest, but skipped any reference to the ethics investigation against Jackson.
However, on July 5, the NBC Nightly News covered the story and anchor Kate Snow related Jackson's health issues and the "investigation over whether [Jackson] broke any rules while pursuing the Senate seat that became available when Barack Obama was elected President."
Jackson's office has released cryptic updates that the Congressman is suffering from "exhaustion."
CBS This Morning co-anchor Erica Hill on Wednesday wondered, "Nancy [Cordes], he's also facing this ethics investigation. Is there any way this is any way related to that and where does that stand?"
Regarding the investigation, Cordes speculated, "...Obviously Jackson has been under some personal strain. Whether that strain has contributed to the emotional and medical problems his doctors alluded to, we don't know now."
The CBS Evening News reported on Jackson's disappearance for the June 26 program. Hill mentioned the investigation then, too.
A transcript of the July 11 GMA segment can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to Washington now where a prominent congressman is at the center of a growing mystery. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been missing from Capitol Hill for weeks. All we've been told is that he's being treated for a serious medical condition. But that's set off all kinds of speculation and pressure to release more information. ABC's congressional correspondent Jon Karl is covering the story. Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL: Good morning, George. Members of Congress take great pains to avoid missing a single vote. But Jesse Jackson Jr. has been missing in action for more than a month, skipping some 80 votes and prompting speculation about where he is and what's wrong with him. For nearly 20 years, Jesse Jackson Jr. has been one of the more outspoken liberals on Capitol Hill.
JESSE JACKSON JR: -Used race as a partisan advantage-
KARL: But he has not spoken in Congress since early May. And hasn't even cast a vote since June 8th.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The amendment is adopted.
KARL: His whereabouts has become something of a Capitol Hill mystery. For more than two weeks, his office said nothing. And now, just says he is suffering from exhaustion, which has prompted even more questions and increased frustrations about where the congressman may be. Late Tuesday, his father said he has a medical condition. But wouldn't say what.
JESSE JACKSON SR: The fact is, the congressman is under medical supervision. And right now is regaining strength.
KARL: Senator Dick Durbin, a member of the Illinois congressional delegation, says Jackson needs to explain more.
DICK DURBIN: His health is the number one priority. As a public official, though, there reaches a point where you have a responsibility, to tell people what you're facing and how things are going.
KARL: Chicago radio station WLS set off a frenzy of speculation Tuesday, by quoting unnamed sources, saying Jackson had attempted suicide.
UNIDENTIFIED RADIO HOST: Did he try to kill himself?
KARL: Something a senior aide close to Jackson called "absolutely not true. Completely erroneous." Jackson's disappearance came just days after his former fundraiser was arrested by the FBI for allegedly paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to doctors. The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Jackson's doctors will soon issue a statement on his condition. But when will he return to Congress? A source close to Jackson tells us he may not be here until September or even later. Robin?