Name That Party: Local Media Largely Omit Democratic Affiliation of Criminal D.C. Councilman
A Democratic member of the Washington, D.C. City Council announced his resignation yesterday after he decided to plea guilty to federal charges of embezzlement and filing false tax returns.
The news of Harry Thomas Junior's resignation made the front page of today's Washington Post, which promptly noted the disgraced councilman's Democratic Party affiliation. Thomas's party affiliation, however, was ignored by the websites for WJLA and WRC, the ABC and NBC affiliates. WUSA, the CBS affiliate, mentioned deep in its coverage that Thomas "agreed to resign from the seat once held by his father representing residents of the heavy democratic voting Ward 5."
Relying on an Associated Press story, 24-hour radio news station WTOP failed to note Thomas's party affiliation in a story on his forthcoming guilty plea. National Public Radio-affiliated D.C. station WAMU failed to note Thomas's party affiliation on its website.
WAMU is owned and operated by -- and its FCC license is granted to -- American University, a private educational institution in the District of Columbia. The station "is not associated with other public radio or television stations in the area, nor is it an ancillary facility of National Public Radio," and its revenue is largely generated by listener contributions. That said, WAMU received $247,500 in its 2011 fiscal year in NPR licensing fees, $260,302 in a "national program acquisition grant from CPB [the Corporation for Public Broadcasting]," and $733,217 in a "community service grant from CPB."