Kilpatrick Leads Democratic Group, Yet All But CBS & FNC Refuse to ID Him as (D)

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is hardly reticent about touting himself as a Democrat. After all, he's the Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and in January was re-elected its representative to the Democratic National Committee. But in ABC and NBC news stories Thursday night about how a Michigan judge ordered him to jail immediately for violating his bond, neither identified him as a Democrat (verbally or on screen) -- not even in a full two-minute NBC story. On CBS, fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell didn't mention Kilpatrick's party in three teases/plugs for the upcoming story, nor in the introduction to it, but two-thirds into his report, Dean Reynolds, who in a March story failed to ID Kilpatrick, referenced: “Once a rising star in Democratic Party politics...”

Making that same “rising star” point, from a smoggy (or foggy?) Beijing, NBC anchor Brian Williams managed to avoid mentioning Kilpatrick's party affiliation:

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was once viewed as a rising political star in the United States. Tonight he has fallen pretty far from those early lofty and glowing predictions...

Two of the cable news networks were no more accurate. Filling in on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle avoided Kilpatrick's party in a brief item on news of his jailing while on CNN's The Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer did not note Kilpatrick's Democratic affiliation in several updates and plugs and, in a full story in the 5PM EDT hour, the MRC's Matthew Balan noticed, Mary Snow failed to verbally name Kilpatrick's party in her piece.The only hint came in this chyron at the bottom of the screen for barely three seconds: "MAYOR KWAME KILPATRICK (D) DETROIT."

FNC was the cable world exception as Bret Baier, filling in as host of Special Report, set up a story:

Detroit's Democratic Mayor will be spending the night in jail. A judge today told Kwame Kilpatrick he was going to be treated just like any other person who had broken the law. Correspondent Todd Conner has the story....

The image of Kilpatrick on the “leadership” page for National Conference of Democratic Mayors:

The short, label-free, item read by ABC anchor Charles Gibson on World News:


The Mayor of Detroit is in jail. Kwame Kilpatrick is facing trial on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Terms of his bail prevented travel. But he went to Canada anyway. So the judge today sent him to jail. Kilpatrick is appealing, but from a cell.

My March 24 NewsBusters item, “ABC, CBS and NBC All Fail to ID Indicted Mayor as a Democrat,” recounted:


Two weeks since the ABC and NBC evening shows took multiple days before getting around to informing viewers that disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer belonged to the Democratic Party -- after every ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news program last year immediately highlighted the party of Republican Senators David Vitter and Larry Craig -- Monday's broadcast network evening newscasts all failed to note, verbally or on-screen, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's party.

ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News: "Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged today with felonies that could cost him his job and 15 years in prison." NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams relayed how "Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick...was indicted on perjury and other charges in the wake of a sex scandal there." (NBC also refused to tag Kilpatrick in a full story aired Friday night.) Over on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith introduced a full story: "In Detroit, a sex scandal led to criminal charges today against the Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, a married father of three."...

My March 21 posting, “Here We Go Again: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (?),” reported:


The week after it took the NBC Nightly News until the fourth day of coverage to inform viewers that disgraced then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat, Friday's NBC Nightly News ran a full story on the scandalous behavior surrounding Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, but never identified his political party. Naturally, given the lack of a party identification by the mainstream media journalists, he's a Democrat. Anchor Brian Williams set up the story: "The city of Detroit is in a crisis over government and leadership. The current Mayor is just the latest Detroit Mayor elected on a promise to clean up and revitalize the city. Now he's been caught in a sex scandal, a trail of electronic messages reportedly provides the evidence, it threatens his career and then some."

Reporter Kevin Tibbles, also sans any mention of a party affiliation, outlined: "The Detroit city council votes overwhelmingly to ask the Mayor to resign. 37-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick, in his second term of the Mayor of the Motor City, is mired in financial, political, and personal scandal, but refuses to budge."

Transcripts of the stories on the Thursday, August 7 NBC and CBS evening newscasts:

NBC Nightly News:


BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now we turn our focus to Detroit, Michigan, where Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was once viewed as a rising political star in the United States. Tonight he has fallen pretty far from those early lofty and glowing predictions. Already under indictment, a judge sent him to jail for violating the conditions of his bond. As you might imagine, this is a big story in Detroit and reporter Karen Drew of our NBC station WDIV-TV in Detroit has the story.

KWAME KILPATRICK, IN COURT: Firstly, I apologize immensely.

KAREN DREW: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on his way to jail today apologized for what he said was a trip to Canada on city business without the court's permission.

KILPATRICK, IN COURT: I've been living in an incredible state of pressure and scrutiny for seven months.

DREW: But district court judge Ronald Giles said said the two-term Mayor should be treated like any other citizen for violating the terms of his bond.

JUDGE RONALD GILES: What matters to me though is how the court, overall, is perceived. If it was not Kwame Kilpatrick sitting in that seat, if it was John Six Pack sitting in that seat-

DREW: Kilpatrick, and his ex-chief of staff Christine Beatty, were indicted in March for perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice, both accused of lying about their alleged personal relationship and their roles in the firing of two Detroit police officers who'd been investigating city corruption. Both have denied the charges.

LOCAL TV NEWS ANCHOR: But in this case, Detroit's number one citizen is going to be going to jail.

DREW: While local newscasts reported the latest on the city's embattled Mayor, officials and residents reacted.

SHEILA COCKREL, DETROIT CITY COUNCIL: The most important message here for everyone to take away is that no one's above the law.

WOMAN ON STREET: It's good for the comedians, but I think by now the Mayor is going to have to resign.

DREW: Kilpatrick's attorneys will be in court tomorrow morning appealing that incarceration. Meantime also tomorrow, the state attorney general will be announcing felony charges against the mayor for allegedly assaulting a sheriff's deputy who was trying to deliver a subpoena. More trouble for the mayor, Brian.

CBS Evening News:

Three teases and plugs from anchor Russ Mitchell:


The indicted Mayor of Detroit is sent to jail after violating terms of his bond.

There is much more CBS News ahead, including Detroit's Mayor. He's in jail tonight.

Up next, Detroit's Mayor has a day in court and spends the night in jail.

The eventual story:


RUSS MITCHELL: The Mayor of Detroit is in jail tonight. A judge sent him there. Just the latest legal problem for Kwame Kilpatrick. Here's Dean Reynolds.

DEAN REYNOLDS: These are not the best of times for Kwame Kilpatrick, or his city. Awaiting trial on multiple felonies, he violated his bond agreement not to leave the country when he went on city business next door to Windsor, Canada. That landed him in front of a judge today.

KWAME KILPATRICK, IN COURT: I don't believe that there's a person that has ever been through this process that respects it more than I do.

REYNOLDS: Kilpatrick faces charges of lying under oath to cover up an affair with a city employee, firing the deputy police chief for personal reasons, and misleading the city council to keep hidden incriminating text messages. If convicted, he could get 15 years.

KILPATRICK, IN COURT: I've been living in an incredible state of pressure and scrutiny for seven months during this time period.

REYNOLDS: He also stands accused of shoving a police investigator. So for the judge, the latest infraction was open and shut.

JUDGE RONALD GILES, 36th DISTRICT COURT OF MICHIGAN: If it was not Kwame Kilpatrick sitting in that seat. If it was John Six Pack sitting in that seat, what would I do?

REYNOLDS: Once a rising star in Democratic Party politics, Kilpatrick was subdued in court.

KILPATRICK, IN COURT: I apologize to you. I policy to this court. I have respect if for this court. I have respect for the judges in this court and I have respect for you.

REYNOLDS: The judge played it by the book.

JUDGE GILES The court is going to order that you -- that all travel be suspended. And, two, that you be remanded to the Wayne County jail for processing.

REYNOLDS: And with that, the Mayor of the nation's 11th largest city behind went behind bars, awaiting a hearing tomorrow to see just how long he'll stay there. Dean Reynolds, CBS News, Chicago.
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