'Today' Double Standard: Only GOP Governors Caught In Sex Scandals Get Party Label

Just this past Monday, NBC’s "Today" show studiously avoided mentioning disgraced Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Democratic affiliation during his interview with Matt Lauer, but fast forward to Wednesday’s "Today" and a story about another governor embroiled in a sex scandal -- in this case Nevada Republican Governor Jim Gibbons -- and NBC’s Michael Okwu was careful to note he is a Republican at the very top of the story:

MICHAEL OKWU: If voters in Nevada were betting on a nasty gubernatorial divorce, this week they hit the jackpot. That's Republican Governor Jim Gibbons. There's his future ex-wife, Dawn. After 23 years of a polished political marriage to Dawn Gibbons, a former state assemblywoman, the governor has filed for divorce citing incompatibility in what's become a very public war of the roses.

Back in March of 2008, when they first covered Spitzer’s prostitution scandal "Today" devoted an entire 4-hour program to ignoring the "D" next to Spitzer’s name and in that same month "Today" also bypassed the party affiliation of yet another Democrat caught in compromising position, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.The following is a complete transcript of the Okwu story as it was aired on the April 8, "Today" show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: And now to what could be one of the nastiest divorce battles in America right now. Nevada's First Lady accusing her husband Governor Jim Gibbons of having multiple, extramarital affairs. NBC's Michael Okwu has the latest.MICHAEL OKWU: If voters in Nevada were betting on a nasty gubernatorial divorce, this week they hit the jackpot. That's Republican Governor Jim Gibbons. There's his future ex-wife, Dawn. After 23 years of a polished political marriage to Dawn Gibbons, a former state assemblywoman, the governor has filed for divorce citing incompatibility in what's become a very public war of the roses. KATHLEEN TURNER IN WAR OF THE ROSES MOVIE CLIP: Was it as good for you as it was for me? OKWU: In the divorce papers unsealed this week, Dawn Gibbons says her husband wanted out, to pursue his dalliances and accused him of having affairs with at least two married women, including a former Playboy model seen here two-stepping ahead of the governor at a Reno rodeo. JOHN SMITH, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, COLUMNIST: Is the divorce a big deal here? Sure, it is. This is a three-ring circus and all three rings are full. OKWU: The other, other woman, according to Dawn Gibbons, was a state employee. Last year when news broke, the governor had reportedly sent the worker more than 800 text messages over several weeks, sometimes in the middle of the night. It was a scandal. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER TO GIBBONS: Is this an affair as your wife claims through your attorney? GOVERNOR JIM GIBBONS: Absolutely not. SMITH: The only response is OMG, are they BFFs?OKWU: Tuesday the governor's lawyer told NBC News the allegations are not worthy of a response, "Continuing infidelity is not relevant to anything in Nevada. We're a no-fault state." In the court documents, Dawn Gibbons says she is devastated and feels like a cast-away wife after standing by her man. Standing by him, even in 2006 after Las Vegas cocktail waitress accused Gibbons, then a five-term U.S. Congressman running for the state house, of making unwanted sexual advances.GIBBONS: I unequivocally deny that I ever engaged in any inappropriate or offensive behavior. OKWU: No criminal charges were filed, ruling in the civil suit is pending. In the meantime, Dawn Gibbons has moved out of the governor's mansion and into a one-room apartment on the property. For his part the governor says his wife has been overly aggressive. In one legal motion, the governor's lawyer said, "Being in close quarters with such a volatile person was like being locked in a phone booth with an enraged ferret." For "Today," Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.