CBS This Morning and NBC's Today couldn't be bothered to give Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s political affiliation as they devoted just 35 seconds of air time on Wednesday to his upcoming sentencing. Both morning newscasts merely identified the onetime Democratic politician as a former congressman.
The same morning, ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the story about Jackson, who pled guilty in February 2013 to misusing campaign funds to buy big ticket items, such as a $43,000 Rolex watch, and Michael Jackson memorabilia.
NBC news anchor Natalie Morales reported during her 18-second news brief on Today that the former representative "pleaded guilty to stealing some $750,000 from his campaign fund....Jackson is hoping the judge will consider giving him probation."
On CBS This Morning, anchor Norah O'Donnell pointed out two details about the story that Morales didn't – that "prosecutors say Jackson used the money on everything from expensive watches to mink coats" and that the former congressman "faces up to five years in prison."
The Big Three networks have been reluctant to identify Jackson as a Democrat ever since he was charged with illegal using the campaign money. The MRC's Geoff Dickens documented that in the 15 stories on the former congressman during a week-long period in February 2013, 73 percent (11 total stories) failed to give his political affiliation.
The transcripts of the news briefs from Wednesday's CBS This Morning and Wednesday's Today on NBC:
07:13 am EDT
CBS This Morning
Duration: 17 seconds
[CBS News Graphic: "Jesse Jr. Sentencing: Jacksons Learn Fate For Misusing Campaign Cash"]
NORAH O'DONNELL: Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife are scheduled to be sentenced today for misusing campaign funds. Jackson is expected to make a statement at the federal court in Washington. Prosecutors say Jackson used the money on everything from expensive watches to mink coats. Jackson faces up to five years in prison.
07:06 am EDT
NBC – Today
Duration: 18 seconds
NATALIE MORALES: And it is sentencing day for former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson pleaded guilty to stealing some $750,000 from his campaign fund. His wife Sandra will also be sentenced this morning in Washington D.C. Jackson is hoping the judge will consider giving him probation.