Liberals Behaving Badly: Political Scandals the Networks Are Hiding From You

The indictment case against Republican Governor Rick Perry, that even liberals have described as “weak,” is just the latest GOP controversy that the networks have jumped on to taint Republicans in this midterm election year. In the 2014 campaign season, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have filled their programs with one GOP scandal after another. Congressman Trey Radel’s drug possession, the “kissing congressman” Vance McAllister’s affair, Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby’s alleged stalking of an ex-boyfriend and of course Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate were all controversies these networks made sure their viewers heard about.

But curiously, there have been other political scandals the networks have chosen to either bury or outright ignore. It just so happens the politicians in trouble, in those cases, are Democrats.

                     
The Big Three networks, so far, have refused to report allegations of unethical behavior like Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid using campaign funds to pay $31,000 to his granddaughter, or allegations that Illinois Democratic Governor Pat Quinn using an anti-violence initiative as a slush fund. Embarrassments such as Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley, who mocked farmers in his home state, and Democratic Wisconsin Gubernatorial candidate Brett Hulsey making KKK hoods to give to Republicans, have gone unreported by the Big Three networks.  

The following is a rundown of some of the 2014 scandals involving Democrats that the Big Three networks have chosen to bury or outright ignore on their evening and morning shows:

 

DEMOCRATS ENGAGED IN POTENTIALLY CRIMINAL OR UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR

 

Democratic Senator John Walsh Drops Out of Race After Plagiarism Scandal


On August 7, Democratic Senator John Walsh of Montana announced he would not run for a full term in the Senate. The announcement came after the New York Times revealed he had plagiarized large portions of his master’s thesis at the Army War College.

On July 23 The New York Times reported: “On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues. But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.”

Big Three coverage: A 31 second story aired on the July 24 CBS This Morning

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Paid $31,000 in Campaign Funds to Granddaughter for ‘Gifts’


On March 27, the Washington Times reported there were “new questions are being raised about just how much money Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign gave to his granddaughter for ‘holiday gifts.’ Mr. Reid looked to put the issue behind him this week by announcing plans to reimburse his campaign close to $17,000 for the ‘thank-you gifts,’ but Nevada political blog site Ralston Reports has since said that Mr. Reid also cut additional checks — of $9,000 and $5,000 — to Ryan Elisabeth Reid in 2012, bringing the total to $31,000. Ms. Reid owns a jewelry company.”

The Times story continued: “Asked Wednesday whether the decision to reimburse his campaign was an acknowledgment of impropriety, Mr. Reid said, ‘No, in fact, it wasn’t. We complied with all the rules,’ he said. The issue came to light after the Federal Election Commission flagged the spending and asked Mr. Reid last week for more details about the payments. Federal law prohibits campaign money to be used for personal purposes.”

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

Democratic Governor Accused of Turning Anti-Violence Initiative Into a Slush Fund


On May 2, the Washington Post reported: “The road to reelection for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) was always going to be difficult. But it looks even harder at the end of a troubling week for the Democrat when a federal probe of an anti-violence initiative he started has received widespread attention in the state.” The Post story went on to add: “Dubbed the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, Quinn launched the anti-violence program in the fall of 2010, the year he ran for a full term as governor. It has come under scrutiny from federal and state prosecutors. The Department of Justice has sought documents related to the program...Quinn stopped funding the effort in 2012. Critics have cast the initiative as a ‘political slush fund.’”

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu Charged Campaign Flight to Taxpayers


On August 12 CNN reported: “Sen. Mary Landrieu made headlines last November when she hitched a ride home on Air Force One with President Obama, but chose not to attend his event in New Orleans. Another lesser-known flight Landrieu took that same day mistakenly cost taxpayers more than $3,000. CNN has learned that the vulnerable Louisiana Democrat used government money to charter a private plane to travel to a campaign fundraiser, in violation of federal law. Landrieu spent more than $3,200 in taxpayer money to fly 400 miles round trip from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per person fundraising lunch with hundreds of women, according to Senate records and Landrieu campaign information. It is illegal to spend government money campaigning.”

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

New Jersey Democrat Leaves Congress Amid Ethics Probe


On February 4, the Washington Post reported: “Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said Tuesday that he plans to resign from Congress this month to take a job with a Philadelphia-based law firm, a move he said is best for his family...But Andrews’s decision to leave comes as he’s faced years of allegations that he violated House rules and federal law by using campaign funds to pay for personal trips to Scotland and Los Angeles and by using a graduation party for his daughter to raise campaign cash.

A report released in 2012 detailed how in May 2011 Andrews initially used personal funds to pay roughly $16,500 for four business-class airplane tickets for himself, his wife and two daughters to attend a wedding in Scotland. Andrews later had the money refunded and paid for the tickets with funds from his leadership PAC and has generally denied any wrongdoing. The Office of Congressional Ethics report, which was released by the House Ethics Committee, said that Andrews “refused to provide requested documents” to investigators related to his travels and provided credit card statements only “after making significant redactions.”

Big Three coverage: Nothing on the ABC, CBS or NBC morning and evening newscasts but the May 11 edition of 60 Minutes devoted 88 seconds to Andrews during a Steve Kroft piece about the misuse of campaign funds.

 

Anti-Gun Democrat Accused of Illegal Arms Trafficking


As part of a March 26 FBI raid on offices of three Democrats across the country California Democratic State Senator Leland Yee was arrested on theft, bribery and extortion charges. As the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) reported, Yee was “tied to Chinese gangster Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow and convicted Hillary Clinton bundler Norman Hsu.” Yee was seeking the job of state secretary, that runs the state’s elections.” IBD underlined Yee hypocrisy: “An outspoken advocate of gun control, Yee conspired to traffic in high-powered weapons in exchange for campaign cash, the FBI affidavit says.”

Big Three coverage: A 10 second brief by ABC’s Amy Robach on March 27 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America. Robach never attached the Democratic label to Yee in the following brief: “And a California lawmaker who pushed for gun control has been arrested in a gun trafficking scheme. State Senator Leland Yee is fighting those charges.”

There was nothing about Yee on CBS and NBC.

 

California State Democrats Suspended By State Senate for Corruption


On March 28, Democratic State Senators Rod Wright and Ron Calderon joined Yee in being suspended by the California State Senate. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown called on three lawmakers to step down. Wright is still awaiting sentencing in a voter fraud case. Calderon was caught “taking $100,000 in bribes, lavish trips and no show jobs for his kids in exchagne for legislative favors.

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

Charlotte Mayor and ‘Friend of Barack’ Goes Down on Bribery Charges


As part of that same March 26 raid that ensnared California’s Yee, Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was taken down for accepting bribes. The IBD reported that Cannon was “a Friend of Barack, who allegedly took more than $48,000 in bribes — including $20,000 in cash from an undercover agent, who delivered the bribe, ‘American Hustle’-style, inside a briefcase in the mayor’s office. During another payoff, Cannon, who helped bring the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte, ‘placed the money near his ear and fanned the bills,’ the federal complaint says.”

The IBD story continued: “According to the complaint, Cannon told an agent posing as a real estate developer: ‘So, you know, Friday I’m meeting with the president..I’m taking the missus with me. We’re gonna do a holiday party with the president and his wife.’ While the FBI was bribing Cannon, President Obama tapped his best pal on the Charlotte city council, Anthony Foxx, as his transportation chief. The FBI says Cannon was not the only target of its investigation, which involves other officials and is still active.”

Big Three coverage: Two briefs totaling 49 seconds. A 12 second brief by ABC’s Amy Robach on the March 27 Good Morning America. Robach failed to identify Cannon as a Democrat in the following brief: “Mayor Patrick Cannon accused of accepting more than $48,000 in bribes and then soliciting another million in bribes.”

NBC’s Brian Williams on the March 26 Nightly News offered the following 37 second brief, in which he never disclosed Cannon’s party affiliation. “The beautiful city of Charlotte, North Carolina, tonight is coming to grips with an ugly story involving its mayor who has been in office for a grand total of one hundred fifteen days. He was busted today by the FBI after a sting operation several years in the making. Patrick Cannon is facing charges of theft and bribery after the FBI says it launched a fake real estate scheme. They say he asked for and received forty-eight thousand dollars, use of a luxury apartment, kickbacks, and in the most recent payment he accepted twenty thousand dollars in cash, they say, in his office. If convicted, he could face up to twenty years in prison.”

CBS never ran a story on Cannon.


Child Pornography Charges Filed Against Former Illinois Democrat State Representative


On April 28 the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois Democratic State Representative Keith Farnham was charged with “using both and state-owned computers to trade hundreds of images and videos depicting child pornography and engage in graphic online chats in which he allegedly bragged about sexually molesting a 6-year-old girl.
                
Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

DEMOCRATS ENGAGED IN EMBARRASSING BEHAVIOR  

 

Democrat Running for U.S. Senate in Iowa Insults Farmers


On March 25, audio of Democratic candidate Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate seat to replace the retiring Tom Harkin, emerged of him insulting farmers. On the tape Braley is quoted as telling a group of trial lawyers at January fundraiser that he would be their “voice” in Congress also warned them that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” could be the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee if Republicans retook the Senate.  As the Washington Free Beacon noted “many viewed the comments as elitist in Iowa, where more than 90,000 farms are located. Braley later apologized and said he was ‘trying to convey that we have different life experiences and backgrounds.’”

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

Democratic Congressman Calls Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom”

                   
On April 29 Buzzfeed reported that Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, while appearing on a New Nation of Islam radio show, called Supreme Court Justice an “Uncle Tom” and called Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a racist.

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

Democratic Candidate for Mayor in New Jersey Uses the “N Word”


On April 29, the New York Daily News reported: “A candidate for Mayor of a small New Jersey town was caught on tape allegedly spewing a racist rant in which she said she didn’t want her village to become a ‘f------ n----- town.’ Marie Strumolo Burke, who is running for mayor in Belleville, N.J. as a Democrat, was reportedly heard making the vitriolic comments on a voicemail from 2013, according to NJ.com.”        

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

Democratic Candidate for Governor in Wisconsin Wants to Make KKK Hoods for Republicans


On May 1, the Associated Press reported: “Democratic candidate for governor Brett Hulsey plans to hand out white Ku Klux Klan-style hoods to Wisconsin Republicans as they gather for their annual convention Friday to highlight what he says are their racist policies. Hulsey, a state representative from Madison who is white, came into the state Capitol press room on Thursday to show off a hood he says he made with his daughter's sewing machine using curtain material he purchased for $1. ‘It’s a Wisconsin Republican Party hat,’ Hulsey said. ‘And people can interpret it any way they want.’” When asked whether he was serious, trying to be funny or provocative, Hulsey answered: ‘All of the above.’”

Big Three coverage: 0 stories

 

To read more about how the Big Three networks have exhibited a political double-standard when covering scandal stories please visit MRC.org.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.