Jackson Jr.'s Indictment News Light on Dem Party ID and Questioning of Govt.'s Convenient Friday Filing

Jesse L. Jackson Jr. was indicted on Friday, February 15, the final day before a three-day weekend, even though the information necessary to indict appears to have been in place for some time. Though it may be out there and I'm certainly willing to stand corrected, from what I can tell, the U.S. Department of Justice made no formal announcement when it filed its charges (10-page PDF). Based on the 12:55 p.m. ET time stamp at a Politico story reporting what "the government will allege" and the 1:03 p.m. Pacific Time (i.e., 4:03 p.m. ET) of what appears to have been the first breaking news story from the Associated Press, the government appears to have waited until well into the afternoon to file its charges.

The reporting on Jackson's indictment mostly deferred identifying his party affiliation for several paragraphs, and in some instances, including the aforementioned AP breaking news item, omitted it entirely.


Specifically:

  • CNN, which to its credit is one of what appears to be a very few outlets which actually has a link to the indictment, noted that Jackson is a Democrat at Paragraph 4.
  • A brief AP story carried at WGEM interviews Danny Davis, another Democratic congressman from Illinois. Neither he nor Jackson are tagged as Dems. Davis believes that, in the AP's words, "the Jacksons got caught up in bad decisions and the situation got out of hand."
  • In a rare exception, the Hill's Daniel Strauss (time stamped 4:06 p.m.) identified Jackson as "D-Ill. in his first paragraph.
  • The AP's extended story, as carried at ABC News, waits until Paragraph 5 to tag Jackson as a Dem.
  • The related story at the New York Times appeared on Page A13 in Saturday's print edition and waited until Paragraph 5 to tag Jackson as a Dem. The story's headline and opening sentence are both predictably vague: "Lavish Lifestyle of a Lawmaker Yields Federal Charges" and "In the span of four years starting in 2007, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., then a representative from Illinois, amassed a collection of celebrity memorabilia, furs, jewelry and furniture."
  • A lengthy item in the Chicago Tribune Saturday evening never directly identified Jackson as a Democrat, reporting only in Paragraph 19 that "Jackson chose not to run (for Chicago Mayor) after Democrats retook the House in 2006" and in Paragrph 26 that he "won re-election in November against a little-known Republican challenger in the heavily Democratic district."
  • A long Chicago Sun-Times story also failed to identify Jackson, his father, or convicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich as Democrats.

The Sun-Times story also contained a false lament: "News of the charges upstaged a Chicago appearance by President Barack Obama, who spoke about gun violence and the economy just one block from Jackson Jr.’s old 2nd Congressional District." Hardly, at least not outside of Chicago -- thanks, first, to the timing and light internal promotion of the government's action, and second, the relatively light press treatment.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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