Networks Reported on Tom DeLay, 'Convicted Felon,' But Skipped DeLay's Words of Protest

The Big Three networks all briefly covered the conviction of former House Minority Leader Tom DeLay for campaign money laundering on Wednesday night. But none of them allowed DeLay air time to defend himself. "This is an abuse of power," he said outside the courtroom. "It's a miscarriage of justice, and I still maintain that I am innocent. The criminalization of politics undermines our very system, and I am very disappointed in the outcome."

CBS Evening News substitute anchor Harry Smith seemed to revel in the verdict:

He was once the most powerful Republican in Washington. Tonight, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is a convicted felon. A jury in Austin convicted him today of money laundering charges. Prosecutors said he illegally funneled corporate donations to legislative campaigns in Texas. DeLay, who is 63, could get anywhere from five to 99 years in prison. His lawyer called the verdict a miscarriage of justice and vowed to appeal.

On ABC's World News, substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos called the DeLay trial "infamous," but it was unclear whether that was meant to describe  DeLay or his prosecutors: 

There is a verdict tonight in an infamous political trial. A jury in Texas found former House Minority Leader Tom DeLay guilty of money laundering and conspiracy. He was once one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress. They called him the Hammer. Now he could face years in prison.

On NBC Nightly News, it hewed clearly to the facts, even if it didn't allow DeLay to protest:

LESTER HOLT: Breaking news tonight. Tom DeLay was once one of the most powerful people in Congress. Tonight, he faces the possibility of life in prison after a jury verdict this evening. Our justice correspondent Pete Williams is in our Washington bureau now. Pete:

PETE WILLIAMS: Lester, these are the charges that brought Tom DeLay's political career to an end, forcing him to resign five years after he was indicted. He stepped down from his powerful position as the House majority leader. But tonight a jury in a Texas state court convicted him of illegally channeling nearly $200,000 in corporate donations to candidates who were running for the state legislature. Prosecutors accused him of doing it to get more Republicans in the legislature, who would then help draw more congressional districts with Republican majorities.

Now, he did appear on the TV program "Dancing with the Stars" in 2009, but he has stayed mostly out of the public eye since losing his Washington responsibilities, except to attend to his trial. He'll be sentenced later and he could face some prison time, Lester.

DeLay's words of protest were included in the Washington Post account by Robert Barnes and R. Jeffrey Smith, but they also implied DeLay was a dictator who tormented people:

For a time, DeLay was the Republicans' chief vote counter and patronage dispenser, and he earned his nickname, "The Hammer," for the dictatorial style with which he commanded House Republicans - and tormented President Bill Clinton and Democrats.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis