That the Associated Press gives stories about corrupt and scandalous politicians disparate treatment depending on their party affiliation is not exactly breaking news. But it's ordinarily difficult to point to situations involving fairly similar sets of facts occurring at roughly the same time which make the disparity between the wire service's treatment of Republicans and Democrats so obvious.
A largely analogous pair of stories out of Pennsylvania during the past two weeks involves Republican State Senator Jane Orie and former Democratic State Senate leader Robert Mellow. If anything, Mellow's guilty plea to "conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to filing a false income tax return" should be more worthy of national-story treatment by AP because of his former leadership position. But in fact, it appears that the opposite has happened. The story about Orie's conviction is on the national wire, complete with "GOP" in the headline. Mellow's guilty plea is a local story which I did not find at the AP's national site in a search on his name, with no Dem ID in the headline (both have their parties ID'd early in their related stories). Here are the first four paragraphs from Monday night's national story on Orie by Joe Mandak and Kevin Begos:
About the only "good" thing you can say about the Associated Press's coverage of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella is that they have been consistent. That is, the wire service, led by reporter Michael Rubinkam, up to and including today, has consistently and disgracefully failed to tag the infamous "Kids for Cash" jurist and his judicial colleague in crime Michael Conahan as a Democrat.
The consistent failure is all the more unforgivable because, as shown here, one the earliest AP reports on the topic clearly stated that "Both are Democrats." Shortly thereafter, the sentence disappeared. Since then, to my knowledge (shown here and here), in the 2-1/2 years since the story first broke, no AP report on what the it has described as "one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record" has tagged either judge as a Democrat.
Friday, a jury convicted former Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella of "12 counts, including racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy, but acquitted him of 27 counts, including extortion" in connection with "what prosecutors said was a 'kids for cash' scheme that ranks among the biggest courtroom frauds in U.S. history." Ciavarella was "accused of using juvenile delinquents as pawns in a plot to get rich," i.e., that "he incarcerated youths for money."
The quotes in the previous paragraph are from Associated Press reporter Michael Rubinkam's story on the verdict. Rubinkam's report caps two years of the wire service's consistent failure to tell its own readers and viewers, as well readers, listeners, and viewers at subscribing outlets, the political party affiliations of Ciavarella and former judicial colleague Michael Conahan, who separately "pleaded guilty to racketeering last year."
Both former judges are Democrats. From all appearances, the AP said so just once in a report two years ago when the judges were indicted, and quickly pulled the reference, as shown in the graphic that follows:
The fate of former Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella is in the hands of a jury tonight.
After an initial media slip-up that occurred and was quickly "corrected" when he and a fellow judge were indicted two years ago ("Un-Name That Party" proof here), Ciavarella's party affiliation (Democrat, natch) has gone virtually unmentioned.
One such non-party-identifying example (overall details to follow) this evening comes from the Associated Press's Michael Rubinkam. Those who are unaware of the outrages allegedly perpetrated by the these judges need to brace themselves: