Name That Party: Comparing NYDN's and AP's Coverage of 'Louis the Lewd' Magazzu's N.J. Resignation

Louis Magazzu, whom I shall nickname "Louis the Lewd," was a Democratic County Freeholder in Cumberland County, New Jersey. A "freeholder" is the Garden State equivalent of a county commissioner.

His position is in the past tense because Louis the Lewd resigned on Tuesday after nude pictures of himself sent to a woman with whom he had online correspondence for several years were published.

Let's compare how the Aliyah Shahid at the New York Daily News and Beth DeFalco at the Associated Press covered Magazzu's resignation. First, from the Daily News, which isn't exactly considered strongly conservative or particularly anti-Democrat:

Louis Magazzu, Democrat New Jersey freeholder, resigns after nude photos, sexts surface

It's Anthony Weiner, Jersey edition.

Garden State Democrat Louis Magazzu announced his resignation Tuesday after nude pictures he sent to a woman he had been corresponding with were posted on a Republican activist's website.

At least two of the photos showed the Cumberland County freeholder's crotch, two showed him dressed to the nines in a suit, and a fifth showed him waist up without a shirt.

The tawdry photos - taken in front of a mirror with a smartphone - are similar to those that led to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens-Brooklyn) to call it quits in June.

Magazzu, a 53-year-old lawyer who had been an elected county official for more than a decade, apologized to his friends, family and constituents in a statement, but indicated he had been set up.

"I did not know that she was working with an avowed political enemy to distribute these pictures," Magazzu said of the Chicago woman he corresponded with online with for several years but claims he never met. "I have retained counsel to determine what laws may have been broken by the unauthorized distribution of those pictures."

... Unlike Weiner, who waited weeks before resigning, Magazzu stepped down just a day after the photo scandal hit local papers.

Carl Johnson, of Milville, who posted the photos on Magazzuwatch.com, said he would consider taking down the photos.

Shahid's writeup is a good example of fair and balanced coverage. It appropriately tags Louis the Lewd as a Dem in the headline and first paragraph, but also identified the nature of Magazzu's antagonist right off the bat.

Now let's look at how the AP's DeFalco and the wire service's headline writers proactively worked to defer tagging Magazzu as a Dem, while making sure that readers knew right off the bat that this was a GOP activist's doing:

NJ pol resigns after nude photos appear online [1]

A politician who emailed a woman nude photos of himself [4] that were later posted on a GOP activist's website [2] announced his resignation Tuesday and said he'll consider all legal options to have the pictures taken down.

In an emailed statement, Cumberland County freeholder Louis Magazzu apologized to his friends, family and constituents but indicated that he thought he was being set up.

The 53-year-old Democratic lawyer, [3] who'd been an elected county official since 1997, said he sent the photos to a woman with whom he corresponded online for several years and that she requested the photos. At least two of the photos revealed his crotch, two photos showed him fully dressed in a suit and a fifth showed him from the waist up, shirtless.

"I did not know that she was working with an avowed political enemy to distribute these pictures," he said. "I have retained counsel to determine what laws may have been broken by the unauthorized distribution of those pictures."

The pictures appear [4] to show Magazzu standing naked in front of a mirror photographing himself with a Blackberry - photos similar to those that led U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York to resign in June. The seven-term Democratic congressman acknowledged sending sexually explicit messages and photos to several women online.

Johnson said on his website that the woman "contacted me out of the blue this year." He said he told her to contact the media, and when none seemed interested, he "reluctantly revealed them."

So, let's see, AP:

  • [1] -- Party affiliation of Democratic politician tarred by scandal not in headline, check.
  • [2] -- Party affiliation of said Democrat's enemy identified in first sentence, check.
  • [3] -- Waiting as long as possible to avoid identifying Democrat politician's political party in hopes that most print readers, online readers, and new outlets will stop after the first two paragraphs, check.
  • [4] -- Adding an element of doubt where none is warranted by including the word "appear," check.

Item [4] is particularly risible, as Louis the Lewd has admitted that the photos are indeed of him:

He told The Daily Journal he forwarded the photos, along with others in which he is fully clothed, to an unidentified woman. The explicit shots were sent at her request after he sent other pictures in which he is fully dressed, Magazzu said.

Readers should additionally note that the Daily News identified the Magaazuwatch.com web site, and AP's DeFalco, apparently in the interest of ensuring that readers don't learn anything beyond what the wire service is willing to tell them, did not.

Separate from AP's awful handling of the story (unless it happens to have been among those contacted), I'd like to know which media outlets decided that Magazzu's conduct wasn't news. If not, why not? Obviously it was news, because, guess what? You're covering it now.

The contrast between a media outlet doing its job of informing the public and one which seems to see part of its mission as covering for Democratic corruption and misconduct at every turn could hardly be clearer.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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