Justice Samuel Alito’s decision to leave his luxury Alaska fishing trip unmentioned in his financial disclosures earned him a chorus of sympathy from right-wing attorneys and media figures. Among the most prominent was Fox host Laura Ingraham, who scoffed at the recent ProPublica report on Alito’s rich vacation buddies.
“Because guess what?” she asked her audience. “If you’re a Supreme Court Justice, you still can have friends.”
Ingraham has some of the same friends.
In a segment on Wednesday defending Alito’s stay at the Alaska fishing lodge, she failed to disclose a key point: She stayed there herself.
Ingraham leaned into defending Alito in the Wednesday segment, explaining that ProPublica reported that Alito “took a luxury fishing vacation with billionaire Paul Singer who later had cases before the court,” then gasping sarcastically.
“Now, their biggest gripes are that Alito didn’t recuse himself from these cases,” she added. “Nor did he disclose the fishing trip on financial forms.”
Ingraham closed the monologue by affirming Alito’s defense that the fishing trip to Alaska’s King Salmon Lodge “falls under the category of personal hospitality, which it obviously does.”
But Ingraham did not mention in the segment that she appears to have stayed at the same lodge where Alito rested during his July 2008 sojourn.
In a statement to TPM, Ingraham said that she neither knew that the Alito story involved the lodge nor caught any salmon while she was there.
“Even if I knew the story faux ethics claims against Justice Alito involved the King Salmon Lodge (which I didn’t), my own travel there 18+ years ago is irrelevant,” she said. “He had no ethical obligation to report the fishing trip. The real unfairness involves the fact that Alito apparently caught some salmon, yet I came up empty.”
After TPM initially reached out to Fox News on Monday, Ingraham called TPM, apparently mistaking this reporter’s phone number for that of the Fox News spokesperson who would later forward her statement to TPM. She hung up when asked to comment directly for the story. Her statement arrived by email three hours later.
Ingraham described the details of her stay at the lodge on The Laura Ingraham Show, a nationally syndicated conservative talk radio show she used to host.
In one March 2017 episode, a caller told Ingraham on air that he was from Alaska.
“Have you ever been up to King Salmon, Alaska?” she asked. The caller replied that he had been to the town, renowned for its plentiful salmon fishing.
“Oh my god, beautiful,” Ingraham replied. “I went to the lodge there!”
She added that a friend of hers owned the King Salmon Lodge and invited her up to visit.
It’s not clear exactly when Ingraham made the trip.
The lodge’s previous owner, Robin Arkley, hosted Alito in 2008 but has since sold the lodge. The lodge indicated in a recent Facebook post that it’s been under new management since the early 2010s.
Arkley is a major donor to conservative causes and, ProPublica reported, let Alito stay in the lodge free of charge. He did not return TPM’s request for comment.
Ingraham appeared to have a deeper relationship with Arkley than just staying at one of his properties.
In the acknowledgements section to a 2007 book, Ingraham thanked Arkley and his wife for letting her stay at their home in California.
The episode has some resemblance to another that unfolded earlier this year: After ProPublica broke a series of stories about Clarence Thomas accepting lavish gifts and trips from wealthy individuals without disclosing them, a series of influential conservatives sprung forward to defend him.
In those cases as well, the defenders turned out to enjoy the same perks as the justice they were defending.
One of the key Thomas defenders was Mark Paoletta, who also appeared on Ingraham’s show to defend Alito. Paoletta did not mention that he went on the same trips, financed by the same businessman, that were the subject of one of ProPublica’s stories about Thomas.
Ingraham continued to gush about the trip on the 2017 broadcast.
“We’re up there, we’re going around these floatplanes, flying all over the place, and everybody is so excited,” she said.