At the Associated Press yesterday, Michael Kunzelman managed to write a 500-word story about the arraignment of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on bribery charges without once mentioning that Nagin is a Democrat.
That's probably not a "Name That Party" record for "Most Words Used in an AP Story about a Democratic Politician Tainted by Scandal and/or Corruption," but it's especially galling, given the mayor's culpability (along with then-Governor Kathleen Blanco) for failing to ensure that New Orleans was evacuated on a timely basis in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina, and given the national press's non-stop blaming of President George W. Bush for the death, destruction and mayhem which followed. Excerpts from Kunzelman's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a February 20 column which lamented as a tragedy the mess that former Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) got himself into by improperly using campaign resources for extravagant personal expenses, Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary scolded her readers to "think about the mess you might have made of your finances or the financial follies of people you know" before "pass[ing] judgment on the Jacksons."
In a column in which she never mentioned Jackson's party affiliation, Singletary suggested that the Illinois Democrat procured luxury items including a $43,350-gold-plated Rolex watch because he and his wife Sandi were "eager to impress their more wealthy colleagues or the people who run with them in their circle of power and privilege," but she added that it was "[n]ot an excuse, just an observation."
Wednesday's CBS This Morning played up the supposedly gargantuan cuts in government spending that would go into the effect if the sequester goes into effect on March 1. Charlie Rose trumpeted the "massive spending cuts" set to take effect, while Gayle King underlined that the "deep automatic spending cuts" were quickly approaching. But neither anchor pointed out that $85 billion in cuts come out of a $3.5 trillion federal budget.
Correspondent Bill Plante hyped the effect of the possible "massive layoffs" on the Washington, DC region. But he only included one soundbite from a Republican/conservative, while playing three clips from President Obama and second Democrat.
In a 615- word article on Politico’s website on February 20, author Ginger Gibson failed to inform her readers that the disgraced former Illinois congressman was a Democrat, a fact that Politico and a growing list of media outlets continue to do. Instead, Politico simply refers to Jackson as a “[f]ormer Rep.”
Gibson's article was published just moments after Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from the misuse of campaign funds, including spending $43,450 on a gold Rolex watch.
The New York Times ran a front-page story Friday on Maureen O'Connor, the disgraced former mayor of San Diego who lost at least $13 million in casinos over the years, wagering a staggering $1 billion: "Ex-Mayor of San Diego Confronts $1 Billion Gambling Problem." O'Connor, who served between 1986 and 1992, was a rare Democratic mayor in San Diego, but you won't find the word "Democrat" in Jennifer Medina's article.
All three network morning shows on Friday ignored the fact that the ex-San Diego mayor who gambled away an astonishing $1 billion is a Democrat. ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning covered Maureen O'Connor and explained how she wasted most of the money on video poker. But none of them mentioned the party affiliation of the politician.
GMA's Josh Elliott simply related, "A former mayor of San Diego has admitted to gambling away a staggering $1 billion, including millions that she took from her late husband's charity." Today's Natalie Morales described the fraud as an "unbelievable debt." She, too, only used the term "former San Diego mayor." On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell did the same. A graphic deemed the massive crime as being committed by an "ex-mayor." On Fox News, however, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade identified "former Democratic Mayor Maureen O'Connor."
It should surprise no one that the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, often first learns of stories when other outlets break them. When this occurs with a story about a Democratic Party politician in trouble, we get to see how the self-described "essential global news network" revises (i.e., cleans up) the outlet's original content to make it render as little damage as possible.
Today out of Nevada, there's the story of Steven Brooks, a State Assembly member from North Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun's coverage (HT Instapundit) opens with the following sentence: "A Democratic assemblyman is in jail, arrested for threatening Democratic Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick, according to North Las Vegas Police and Democratic sources familiar with the situation." Since it concerns an intra-party squabble, tagging those involved as Democrats three times is not at all out of line -- in fact, it's necessary if one wishes to accurately communicate the situation.
When in 2008 Senator Ted Stevens was indicted on corruption-related charges, the very first word in ABC News's headline was "Republican." And the R-word was mentioned four more times in the story.
But when ABC's Good Morning America ran a segment this morning on the indictment on charges of corruption of Ray Nagin, former Mayor of New Orleans, it never revealed—either by spoken word or screen graphic—that Nagin is a Democrat. Note that this was not some short news blip: GMA took a full minute-and-a-half to tell the story, but couldn't find a few seconds to mention Nagin's party affiliation. View the video after the jump.
All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday night ran short items on the federal corruption indictments against the bumbling former Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, but skipped his party affiliation, a fact Reuters considered newsworthy – if not until their sixth paragraph: “Nagin, 56, and a Democrat...”
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer generously described Nagin as “the face of Hurricane Katrina...then the Mayor of New Orleans fighting for his city.”
Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from office today. The timing of the Democratic congressman's resignation (even beyond it taking place on Thanksgiving Eve) is convenient, coming just two weeks after his reelection and prior to what in apparently an imminent indictment. The former enables Democratic Party kingpins in Chicago and its south suburbs to ensure that the seat stays with someone they like and can control (a general election situation with a preceding mini-primary might have been more problematic), while resigning before an indictment makes it likely that Jackson will be eligible for a congressional pension he might have lost had he still been in office when charged.
We are told that Jackson is too distraught to get through a publicly spoken resignation and that he cancelled a conference call with his staff. His resignation letter (original here; Washington Post transcription here) to House Speaker John Boehner, our best potential window to his current state of mind, reveals a man who is utterly full of himself and his wonderfulness. In the process of building this monument to himself, Jackson delivered several self-evident falsehoods the press would never let a Republican in a similar position get away with making without sharp criticism. Since it's a public document, the letter follows the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Yesterday, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka may have broken a modern record for chutzpah exhibited by a labor leader Friday in criticizing management's decision at bankrupt snack maker Hostess Brands to liquidate in the wake of irreconcilable issues with its unions. In a Friday afternoon report at Politico, Kevin Cirilli not only let Trumka get away with it; he also lent the labor leader's contentions additional misleading support.
Trumka blamed the company's apparently imminent demise on "Bain-style Wall Street vultures." He wants everyone to believe that it's greedy, eeeevil Republican private-equity types who are on the brink of putting yet another company out of business. The "clever" framing of that quoted phrase appears to indicate that Trumka already knew better. It seems very likely that Cirilli also knew better. Three hours before the initial time stamp of Cirilli's report, Zero Hedge re-exposed the heavy involvement of D-D-D-Democrats in Hostess's management and advisors originally documented way back in july at CNNMoney by David Kaplan (additional paragraph breaks added by me; bolds are mine throughout this post):
NFL commissioner Robert Goodell weighed in on a recent controversy involving a Maryland state legislator who sent a letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens that called upon him to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who supports same-sex marriage. "I think in this day and age, people are going to speak up about what they think is important. They speak as individuals and I think that’s an important part of democracy," Goodell answered diplomatically.
Reporting on the story, Politico's Kevin Cirilli gave readers the background that State Delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr. played in the controversy, but avoided mentioning Burns's party affiliation in both occasions when he referenced Burns, an African-American Democrat and Baptist minister:
The Associated Press carried two stories on Friday about the attempt by and ultimate failure of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to avoid going back to prison.
In the first, ahead of that day's hearing, AP reporter Bob Johnson failed to mention Siegelman's Democratic Party affiliation. In the second, Johnson managed to get Democratic Party references designed to raise what appear to be partisan questions about whether Siegelman really deserved his fate into his 29th and 34th of 35 paragraphs. Excerpts follow (AP is using all uppercase in its national site headlines now; bolds are mine):
It's time once again to play America's favorite political game...Name That Party!
This time the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel really had me stumped. It was their story about a former Broward (county) Teachers Union president who was arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds. What kept me scratching my head was that the Sun-Sentinel reporters wrote that some of the funds went to political campaigns but made no mention of the political party of the recipients. Here is the lead of the story that offered no real clues as to the political party:
Artur who? The seems to be the question at the New York Times and the national site of the Associated Press. Searches on former Congressman Artur Davis (in quotes at the Times, not in quotes at AP) return nothing relevant and nothing, respectively, even though Davis appears to be the only African-American current or former congressman to leave the Democratic Part and become a Republican in decades. As noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the AP treated the story as a local item yesterday, and the Washington Post carried the AP's story in its Metro local section.
It appears that the two entities might be using the old "Well, Politico covered it, so we don't have to" excuse. On Tuesday of last week, the online publication filed a story reporting rumors that Davis was changing parties. Two days ago (updated yesterday), Alex Eisenstadt made it appear as if anger and not political philosophy largely drove Davis to switch:
Yesterday, West New York, New Jersey Mayor Felix Roque and his son were arrested and charged with "gaining unauthorized access to computers, conspiracy and causing damage to protected computers" -- offenses which carry potential sentences of over 10 years.
At NJ.com, home of the Star-Ledger (print circulation now less than 200,000), one finds that the there is an even greater example of hackery than that involving political hacks allegedly perpetrating computer hacks. That would be hackery of the journalistic persuasion. In his coverage of the Roques' arrests, the Star-Ledger's Ted Sherman waited 19 paragraphs to directly tag Roque as a Democrat. Meanwhile, Sherman noted the mayor's support of Republican Governor Chris Christie -- twice (Paragraphs 5 and 20) -- and his short-lived endorsement of Joseph Kyrillos, the Republican challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. As will be seen, Sherman's shameful show of bias caps several months of disgraceful NJ.com coverage of Roque. First, excerpts from Sherman's coverage of the arrests, completely with shaky grammar (bolds are mine):
If for no other reason than the uniqueness of the alleged crimes involved, the story of the arrests of West New York, New Jersey Mayor Felix Roque and his son deserves attention. It is getting some, complete with the predictable downplaying and omission of the Mayor's political party affiliation, which "just so happens" to be as a Democrat.
Since it's currently appearing at Yahoo News, which is the Internet's most popular news site, with an estimated 110 million unique monthly visitors, Alex Fitzpatrick's Thursday report on the mayor's arrest which originated at Mashable.com is worth calling out, especially because in almost 300 words, Fitzpatrick failed to identify Roque's party. Get a load of what this guy and his son allegedly did to protect their jobs:
Ah, Kwame Kilpatrick, where've you been? The corrupt, perjurious ex-Democratic mayor of Detroit -- infamous for sending steamy text messages on a government-issued device to his chief of staff -- is in legal trouble once again, this time with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to the Washington Post's David Hilzenrath, the SEC has "filed civil charges accusing Kilpatrick and others of committing fraud against the [city's] pension funds by failing to disclose a conflict of interest." But, what do you know, Hilzenrath couldn't find any space in his 15-paragraph page A15 story to disclose Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation.
Returning to form, the last two New York Times updates from the Greensboro, N.C. trial of two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, charged with misusing campaign money to cover up an affair, contain zero mentions of Edwards's Democratic affiliation. The word doesn't even appear in either story.
On Thursday, Lizette Alvarez covered the testimony from Elizabeth Christina Reynolds, who was research director for Edwards during what the Times referred to only as his "2008 presidential campaign." As if the former Democratic senator wasn't running for president as a Democrat.
The Media Research Center's Dan Gainor tipped me to a remarkable development this afternoon. Someone at the Atlantic, probably with the help of commenters there, took notice of the noise being made by Doug Ross, yours truly (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), and probably others, and took some action on a disgracefully written 1,800-word article about the upcoming trial of John Edwards by Hampton Dellinger ("Why the John Edwards Trial Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think") -- for the better.
Doug's more than valid complaint was that Dellinger never tagged the former 2008 Democratic presidential contender who was also the party's vice-presidential nominee in 2004 and (shudder) would have become Vice President if Bush v. Kerry in Ohio had gone the other way, as a Democrat. Yet Dellinger was somehow still able to mention the Republican Party or specific Republicans five times. I further noted that the author's bio was totally inadequate, as it never mentioned his unsuccessful run -- as a Democrat, of course -- for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina in 2008. These shortcomings have been fixed, as will be shown after the jump.
It would appear that if you're an op-ed columnist at the New York Times, you can make up just about any outrageous claim and not get called on it by anyone responsible (if there is such a thing) at the Old Gray Lady.
The column in question, Joseph P. Kennedy II's "The High Cost of Gambling on Oil," goes back two weeks to April 10, but deserves a closer look for two reasons. First Kennedy, who wants to see "pure" speculation by those who are not actual industry participants completely banned (confirmed in the item's browser window title), claimed that oil "extraction" costs "average $11 a barrel worldwide." Second, Kennedy's concluding bio gives the impression that he is an energy industry mogul and not in fact the head of "a non-profit organization that primarily aids the poor in the United States and throughout the world ..." First, here is Kennedy's extraction cost claim (bolds are mine throughout this post):
There are a few Democrats in Vicki Smith's coverage at the Associated Press, aka the Adminsitration's Press, of the fraud investigation of former Mine Safety and Health Administration Director J. Davitt McAteer. As is AP's derelict custom in cases where Dems are involved in scandal or corruption, the party affiliation of those Democrats isn't mentioned.
The first Democrat is McAteer himself, who, based on a review of Federal Election Commission records, given roughly $1,900 to various Democratic Party candidates and causes during the past 13 years, including contributions to the party's presidential nominees in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Then there's West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who was previously the state's governor. Finally, although the AP gets a pass for this (it's Sunday, and we're in a forgiving mood), the name and administration of Democrat Bill Clinton, the guy McAteer worked for when he headed MSHA, never comes up. Excerpts from Ms. Smith's party ID-free report follow:
Jury selection in the trial of two-time Democratic Party presidential candidate and John Kerry's Democratic Party running mate in the 2004 election John Edwards began on Thursday. In the related five-paragraph Associated Press story, Michael Biesecker actually identified Edwards as a Democrat in his fourth of his five paragraphs.
That's not a stellar performance (a Republican or conservative in the kind of trouble Edwards is in would have his or her party identified in either the headline, the first paragraph, or both), but at least the party label is present. As blogger extraordinaire Doug Ross noted earlier this evening, in an 1,800-word item at the Atlantic on Wednesday ("Why the John Edwards Trial Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think"), author and undisclosed former Democratic candidate for statewide office Hampton Dellinger failed to name Edwards's party at all, while figuring out a way to tag something or someone "Republican" five times. Here are the opportunities studiously avoided in his treatise only relating to variations on the word "president" (bolded by me):
Well, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, apparently has Missouri Democratic Congressman and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver's back. As of 2:40 p.m., there is no national story relevant to Cleaver's unpaid $1 million-plus loan at the wire service's national site, even though information published by the Kansas City Star late Friday evening (interesting timing; HT to KC Star's David Helling, who later informed me that the story made Page A-1 of the Star's Saturday print edition, while the original received the same placement on Friday) indicates that taxpayers could be out up to $1.1 million because the Small Business Administration-backed a loan to Cleaver's car wash business back in 2002 which is has been seriously delinquent for years. The Bank has sued for repayment.
There is an unbylined local AP story which appears to have been published shortly after midnight on Monday (shown in full because of its brevity and for fair use and discussion purposes):
The KC Star didn't exactly provide exemplary coverage in its report. One would think from reading the story's headline and first two paragraphs that Bank of America and the congressman are having some kind of difficult conversation. In paragraph 3, we finally learn that there really is a lawsuit involved. It took the Star seven paragraphs to indicate that taxpayers may be on the hook and eight paragraphs to tag Cleaver as a Dem (impact-minimizing words in bold):
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:
Has the New York Times Business section gone soft on former New Jersey Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, now under the scandal spotlight for his service as chief executive of the failed financial services firm MF Global?
Saturday's Business Day story by Azam Ahmed and Ben Protess buried intriguing details that reflect suspiciously on Corzine under the bland headline, "Congressional Memo Sheds New Light on MF Global." The paper didn't even identify the scandal-plagued former governor as a Democrat.
An item filed at the Hill on Friday afternoon by Peter Schroeder tells us that Bloomberg News was the first organization to report the latest development relating to former New Jersey Democratic Governor and Senator Jon Corzine. Bloomberg's report, via Phil Mattingly and Silla Brush, reveals that Corzine, who was CEO at the now-bankrupt MF Global Holdings until November, "gave 'direct instructions' to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators." That would be an MF brokerage account, meaning that customer money was used to cover company losses. If the memo reflects what really happened, Corzine committed a crime -- either by committing perjury in his congressional testimony several months, in ordering the transfer itself, or both.
Bloomberg's report identifies Corzine as a Democrat in its fourteenth paragraph. But at least Bloomberg did so. That did not occur in reports at the Associated Press, United Press International, MarketWatch.com, CNBC. The Hill's Schroeder did tag Corzine as a Dem. Here are several paragraphs from Bloomberg's report (bolds are mine):