The 'Party ID' Game, Ct'd: MD DA not ID'd as Dem Until Paragraph 6

Unlike Congressman Rick Renzi, who is a Republican, and whose party membership was identified in the first word of an Associated Press report yesterday about his indictment, the person involved in this situation, Wicomico County (MD) State's Attornery Davis Ruark, is not a Republican.

This explains why the AP report of Ruark's drunk-driving arrest begins devoid of any indication as to what party he might belong to:

Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis R. Ruark was charged with drunken driving Friday night after being pulled over for speeding and crossing the center line, police said.

After failing field sobriety tests, Ruark was arrested and taken to Ocean City police headquarters, where he agreed to take a breath test and was found to have a blood-alcohol concentration greater than .08 percent, Maryland's legal threshold for drunken driving, police said.

Ruark was cooperative throughout the arrest and offered no excuses or explanation for his actions, said Officer Michael Levy, an Ocean City police spokesman.

It is not until the sixth paragraph that we learn Ruark's political party, followed by a reason why some people might remember him:

Ruark, a Democrat, has been state's attorney in Wicomico since 1989. He is a member of the county's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council, and in 2004, he prosecuted Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps for drunken driving. Phelps pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and received 18 months' probation.

Look at the bright side: Unlike the William Jefferson situation in the summer of last year that was considered in yesterday's post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the identification of Ruark as a Democrat occurred three paragraphs earlier (6th vs. 9th), and was crystal clear (Jefferson was never clearly identified as a Democrat, and the reader had to infer that he is from the same party as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi).

Totally separate from the party ID issue, I'm not sure why we should care who Ruark has prosecuted in the past. Other than the fact of Phelps's celebrity, there doesn't seem to be anything out of line in either direction in how Ruark handled his case. Is the AP writer of this unbylined article of the belief that Phelps should have been given lighter treatment, that Ruark is somehow getting just desserts, or what?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.