CBS Faster to Identify Party of Republican Than of Democrats

On Monday night, the CBS Evening News failed to identify Kwame Kilpatrick as a Democrat in reporting criminal charges filed against the Detroit Mayor, but on Friday night the same anchor, Harry Smith, used the very first word, of his introduction to a story on another politician in criminal trouble, to name the party:
Republican Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona goes on trial next month, charged with using his office to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. He denies breaking any laws, but the indictment spells out a string of alleged dirty deals.

A little under two years ago, then-CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer avoided the party affiliation of a Democratic Congressman in introducing a Monday, May 22, 2006 story:

The government says FBI agents videotaped Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson taking $100,000 in cash from an informant and later found $90,000 in his home freezer. But Jefferson said today he will not resign from Congress and he said he thought it inappropriate for the FBI to search his Capitol office this weekend. To the surprise of some, the Senate Republican leader said he too has concerns about the search.

That reference to the “Senate Republican leader” may have been a hint, but in the subsequent story, Gloria Borger did explicitly tag Jefferson as a Democrat: “Federal investigators now allege that last July, the Louisiana Democrat removed a leather briefcase from a car trunk containing $100,000 in $100 bills...”

Borger, however, concluded her report by declaring a pox on both parties: “At a time when 77 percent of the American public believes that all members of Congress take bribes, Congressman Jefferson's troubles help no one in either party.”

It should be noted that the CBS Evening News, anchored by Katie Couric, was the only broadcast network evening newscast to identify Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat the day news of his use of prostitutes broke -- Monday, March 10.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center