The order of just desserts that many of us hoped was on its way to Detroit serendipitously arrived today, in the form of a stiffer-than expected sentence of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for violating the terms of his probation -- so severe that, for perhaps the first time in his life, Kwame and his clan are, to borrow from Elvis, all shook up.
It's too bad that readers of Associated Press dispatches can't hand out sentences dictating that certain journalists be prevented from accessing a computer keyboard or other data entry device to publish anything for public consumption for as least as long (5 years) as Kilpatrick's maximum potential time in jail. If they had that power, the AP's Corey Williams would be guilty as charged for "waiting 8 paragraphs to identify the party affiliation of a major political figure involved in crime and/or corruption." If the sentence seems too harsh, recall that Williams is an at least one-time repeat offender, having co-authored an AP dispatch in April (noted by yours truly at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that avoided mentioning Kilpatrick's Democratic Party pedigree at all.
Here are the first seven paragraphs of Williams's wimp-out (HT to an e-mailer, who also helpfully points out that Kilpatrick's mom, Carolyn Kilpatrick, is a Michigan congressperson, a relationship that has almost never been mentioned in any story about Kwame's calamities). Note the arrival -- finally -- of the aforementioned just desserts in the final excerpted paragraph:
When I saw the Associated Press's headline ("Disgraced former Ohio congressman dies at 79"), I started thinking about whom the wire service might be referring to.
Of course I knew he would be a Republican, because the establishment media never treats Democrats, even those who leave women who aren't their wives to drown in a submerged car, as "disgraced."
But even I never thought that the AP would reach back 20 years and attempt to give the national spotlight (raw feed proof as of 6:30 p.m. ET is here) to a former Ohio politician whom even most Ohioans -- even most Southwestern Ohioans -- don't remember. I clearly underestimated AP's cravenness. I guess "The Essential Global News Network" needed to find something to offset the hurt coursing through liberal circles today from seeing the GOP gain a seat, however temporarily, in Hawaii.
No "Name That Party" post would be complete without referring to how Democratic politicians in somewhat analogous situations were handled by AP upon their death. That's coming up.
But first, here is most of the wire service's story (for fair use and discussion purposes, of course) about the former congressman's death, complete with multiple party and political philosophy references, as well as guilt by association:
Today, the Associated Press generally did what is supposed to do when reporting on scandal-plagued politicians. Here are the first five paragraphs of the AP's brief report on Indiana Congressman Mark Souder's resignation announcement (link is dynamic and will probably be updated; "where's the worst one we can find?" picture of Souder at top right is via AP):
Okay boys and girls. It's time again to play that favorite NewsBusters game...Name That Party!
Today's game is a real challenge. The politician in question was a Broward County Commissioner sentenced to prison for money laundering. Hmmm... Broward County? Could the clue as to the party label be found from that fact? Nope. Too tough. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel does us no favors by completely avoiding political labels in its story about former Broward County Comissioner Josephus Eggelletion on his way to prison:
Former Broward Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion turned himself in around 2 p.m. Friday and began serving his 2-1/2-year federal prison sentence, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Eggelletion, 61, of Lauderdale Lakes, checked in at the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Ga., 100 miles from Jacksonville.
Columbus Bureau Chief Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade is a one-man "Name That Party" creativity machine:
In March of last year (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in a story about late financial reports from Ohio's state government, Provance identified State Auditor Mary Taylor, who criticized Governor Ted Strickland's administration for being so tardy with the numbers that they could not be audited in time for biennial budget deliberations -- but never identified Strickland or anyone else involved in the snafu as a Democrat. NewsBusters commenter "Hoosierem reported that Provance, in response to a subsequent e-mail, had stated that "I should have taken the next step of noting the governor’s party."
Then in May (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the slow-learning Blade reporter, in a story about the indictment of Anthony Gutierrez, a former aide to disgraced Democrat and former Attorney General Marc Dann (pictured at top right in a Blade photo), never named Guttierez's party -- but did name the party of the county prosecutor who indicted him.
Provance's latest exercise in Name That Party creativity (HT to Maggie Thurber in an e-mail) revolves around Dann's guilty pleas on Thursday to ethics violations. This time, he got in a "clever" dig about Republican scandals going back a half-decade in his opening sentence, but never specifically ID'd Dann as a Democrat, referring only to "a Democratic wave" and "fellow Democrats" -- in Paragraph 11.
Meanwhile, the local Columbus Dispatch, which would be less obligated to reveal Dann's party affiliation because its readership is more likely to already know it, told readers Dann is a Democrat in the second paragraph of its coverage.
The name of Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, doesn't show up anywhere in either entity's coverage.
Hosting a debate segment this morning between Republican strategist Alex Conant and Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee that examined the political dimensions of the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, MSNBC's Tamron Hall played soundbites from two politicians with rather divergent views on offshore drilling.
The first was liberal Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) opposing expanding offshore drilling to California, the second was conservative Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who gave a rather dopey comment where he downplayed the devastation of the oil spill by comparing its appearance to "chocolate milk."
After playing those clips back-to-back, Hall asked for Conant's reaction, mistakenly referring to Taylor as a Republican.
We at NewsBusters quickly tweeted Hall about her error and she promptly issued an on-air correction, albeit mistakenly tagging Taylor as a "Michigan Democrat" [MP3 audio available here]:
Last August, Maryland state delegate Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County), nephew of the state's junior U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D), proposed marriage to his girlfriend. But unlike normal folks who might propose via the jumbotron at the ball park or by having a waiter slip the diamond ring in a champagne flute, Del. Cardin decided to get the local cops to help arrest his woman's heart -- by staging a "boat raid" complete with a police helicopter.
Unfortunately for the reader, nowhere in Hermann's 18-paragraph story was Cardin's party affiliation disclosed, even though Cardin is up for reelection this fall. Meanwhile, the young state delegate's stunt has hurt the career of a Baltimore police sergeant that foolishly complied with the delegate's request:
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
One thing you can say about the Associated Press's and most of the rest of the establishment media's treatment of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during the past two-plus years is that they've been almost totally consistent. They pretend not to know or care what political party Kilpatrick represented throughout his political career, and fail to acknowledge Barack Obama's fondness for him before his legal and criminal troubles began.
The latest episode in this bizarre soap opera/insult to the taxpaying public has Kilpatrick, who now lives with his wife in Dallas, accused of violating his probation by not remitting monies received that he had agreed to pay to the City of Detroit to help take care of an acknowledged $1 million debt to the city. The cliffhanger is: Will he or won't he be sent to jail again?
Today, the AP continued following its two-year pattern (see related March 2008 post at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), this time as written by reporters Ed White and Corey Williams, of avoiding any mention of Kilpatrick's status as a Democratic politician when he was mayor of Detroit. Here are several paragraphs from the pair's prose:
Why does the mainstream media keep trotting out the Boy Who Cried Right-Wing Terrorist?
Better known as Mark Potok of the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center, he has been trumpeted by a number of media outlets seeking to promote the notion that "right-wingers" are lurking behind every corner to overthrow the federal government.
The fact that he is consistently wrong about, well, just about everything -- from the political views of the supposed right wingers to the supposedly violent nature of conservative groups to the mere presence of violent crime -- does not seem to dissuade Old Media from using him to smear conservatives.
Potok's latest target for fear-mongering is a group called the Oathkeepers. The group consists of military veterans who pledge not to follow orders that would result in the violation of Americans' constitutional rights. I know, this is really radical, extremist, right-wing nutjob stuff.
The New York Times's City Room blog included a Friday piece on the orphaned Web site of Hiram Monserrate, a former state senator who is again running for office. From "When Not to Accept Comments:"
Now, as many will remember, the former Queens legislator was tossed out of the State Senate in February after he was convicted of assaulting his female companion. His vacant seat will be filled in a special election on March 16 — an election in which, improbably, the disgraced Mr. Monserrate is also a candidate, on the newly formed and hopefully (or is it cynically?) named Yes We Can! line. (This proves, definitively, that you can usually find more than enough New Yorkers to take part in any crazy idea you have.)
Candidate Monserrate (Yes We Can, Queens) doesn’t have a Web site for this campaign. But a few disgruntled residents found his old site and left some less-than-friendly messages.
Former Birmingham, Alabama mayor Larry Langford (pictured at right in AP photo), who is a Democrat, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday for bribery.
In reporting the story, Reuters did what a competent wire service should do, informing readers of Langford's party affiliation early on:
The former mayor of Alabama's largest city, Birmingham, was sentenced on Friday for his role in corrupt bond deals that threaten to mushroom into a massive U.S. bankruptcy case.
Larry Langford, a 63-year-old Democrat, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors had sought a term of at least 24 years after Langford's conviction on an array of fraud and bribery charges last year.
As has sadly come to be expected, the same cannot be said for the Associated Press. Though it eventually got around to identifying two associates of Langford as "former Democratic Party" officials, it avoided tagging Langford. In the process, the wire service may have set a "Name That Party" record for most felony convictions (60) handed to a politician whose party affiliation was never identified.
This one's a particularly egregious example of party-ID dodging, even for those of us who are used to seeing the establishment media avoid mentioning the political party of almost any disgraced or troubled Democratic public official.
Former Racine, Wisconsin mayor Gary Becker, a Democrat, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for child enticement and attempted sexual assault of a child.
LoHud.com reports (HT to an NB e-mailer) that White Plains, New York Mayor Adam Bradley "turned himself in to police headquarters ... (Sunday) morning after his wife filed a complaint with police that he jammed her finger in a door around 9:30 a.m. Bradley was then arraigned on a third-degree misdemeanor assault charge at White Plains City Court."
The web site does not identify Bradley's Democratic party affiliation, which is perhaps forgivable under a belief that most local readers might know it already.
The Associated Press has no such excuse, at least once one of its stories goes over the national wires, as this one has:
That's pretty "clever" headlining, isn't it? Given that many "suburban" mayors, even in the Empire State, are Republicans, quite a few readers will naturally believe that the city's mayor is a GOP member.
There's no reason to believe that whatever readers attempt to discern from the headline will change after they read the unbylined story, which repeats the "suburban" theme and also fails to identify Bradley as a Dem:
UPDATE, 6:15 P.M.:An unbylined 11:57 a.m. AP report (i.e., 54 minutes after the time stamp of the original post at BizzyBlog) contains two paragraphs about Delahunt's involvement. Based on a search on Delahunt's last name at about 6:15 p.m., this version of AP's report is either still not at its main site, or has not been indexed by its search engine.
Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt's far from minor role in the 1986 release of Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama in Hunstville biology professor implicated in the murder of three colleagues on Friday, has garnered significant press attention in the past 24 hours or so. Some reports have noted Delahunt's party affiliation; others, mostly but not entirely out of New England, where Delahunt's party affiliation may be common knowledge, have not.
In a 15-paragraph story filed yesterday afternoon, Baltimore Sun's Justin Fenton reported how a police cruiser was dispatched at all times during the recent snowstorms to watch over the house of the city's disgraced ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon (D).
You'll recall Dixon was convicted of misappropriating donated gift cards intended for distribution to needy constituents. Instead, Dixon used them on her own personal shopping spree.
Pursuant to a plea deal on another criminal charge, Dixon resigned from her mayoral post on February 4.
Fenton did an excellent job reporting the story and noting the controversy engendered by the city devoting resources for a felonious ex-politician. Yet nowhere in his story did he note that Dixon is a Democrat.
Here's something you won't hear from the liberal media: that whole "birther" conspiracy movement? Yeah, that was started by a couple of Democrats, and neither is named Orly Taitz.
Their names, in fact, are Linda Starr and Philip Berg, according to John Avalon, author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America" (just to clarify, he singles out "wingnuts" on both sides of the aisle). Both were die-hard supporters of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign.
Starr was cited as a source of the false documents that got disgraced CBS correspondent Dan Rather fired. Berg is an aggressive Pennsylvania attorney (and former Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General) who filed a lawsuit against former President George W. Bush in 2004 alleging he was complicit in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez failed to mention the party affiliation of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon on Friday’s Rick’s List program, but made every effort to identify former Congressman Tom Tancredo as a Republican. Sanchez ranked Tancredo higher on his “List You Don’t Want to Be On” for his remarks at the Tea Party Convention, despite Dixon’s conviction for illegally using donated gift cards for the needy.
The CNN anchor gave the number three and number two spots on his “List You Don’t Want to Be On” just before the top of the 4 pm Eastern hour. Sanchez chose Dixon as his number three, and gave a brief on her resignation from office and how she received two years probation for her crime. He didn’t mention her Democratic Party affiliation during his brief, nor was it mentioned in the accompanying on-screen graphic.
Despite being convicted of stealing gift cards intended for poor Baltimore residents and using them for her own personal shopping spree, outgoing Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) will still be able to collect a mayoral pension after she resigns from office early next month.
Reported Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper:
Dixon pleaded guilty last week to one count of perjury for failing to disclose on city ethics forms the gifts she received from a developer. As part of a plea deal, she will keep her $83,000 pension. She will receive probation before judgment for the perjury count and the embezzlement conviction. She also must donate $45,000 to charity and is banned from seeking city funds to pay her legal bills or working for the city or state during her probationary period.
This development, understandably, has quite a few Baltimoreans outraged, so Sun editors gave Scharper 25 paragraphs to report on incoming interim mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's pledge to look into the pension system and sew up loopholes that allow for convicts like Dixon to benefit from taxpayers in their retirement from public service.
Yet nowhere in Scharper's January 12 article was Dixon's Democratic Party affiliation mentioned, nor the fact that Council President Rawlings-Blake and the rest of the city council are likewise all Democrats.
While the Democratic Mayor of Baltimore, Shelia Dixon, resigned on Wednesday amid a criminal scandal, the evening news programs on NBC, ABC, and CBS all failed to mention the political downfall.
On Thursday, all three network morning shows offered news briefs on the resignation, however, all forgot to note that Dixon was a Democrat.
On NBC’s Today, co-host Ann Curry mentioned: “Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced her resignation on Wednesday after she was convicted of embezzlement. She also agreed to plead guilty to perjury in a deal reached with prosecutors.”
Nowhere in their 9-paragraph breaking news article filed at 3:44 p.m. EST today did Baltimore Sun reporters Liz F. Kay and Liz Bowie note Dixon is a Democrat, even though her party has a monopoly on the city's elected officials and has for decades.
Dixon, you may recall, was convicted in December for misappopriating gift cards donated to her office and intended for distribution to needy Baltimore residents. Instead, Dixon used some of the cards for a personal shopping spree. In effect, she was convicted of robbing from the poor to benefit herself.
Numerous police visits to his home, reported gunshots and screaming, attempted burglaries, loud arguments, reported assaults, whispers about having sex with young men. North Carolina state senator R.C. Soles certainly leads an interesting life. Soles is the Democratic caucus chairman in the Senate, but you wouldn't know that by reading today's dispatch from the Associated Press.
On Tuesday's edition of Good Morning America, Elizabeth Vargas was joined by former Bush pollster Matt Dowd and Democrat strategist James Carville. Astonishing though it may seem, Carville was not the left-most member of the panel.
Carville and Dowd were there to provide commentary on the Obama administration's response to the attempted Undi-Bomber attack. Dowd agreed with Carville's assessment of DHS Secretary JanetNapolitano's response - and then, after a bit more discussion, the conversation turned to the political ramifications:
VARGAS: We already have one Republican congressman from Michigan, who is running for Governor of that state, who is saying, trying to make hay out of this. Issued a statement, a fund-raising statement yesterday saying, "it is insulting the Obama administration would claim the system worked. These are the same weak-kneed liberals," he writes, "that tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists to Michigan." Any surprise that members of the opposite party are looking to make hay on this?
A breaking dispatch from the Associated Press sure makes it look like Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (picture at top right is from his Wikipedia entry) is engaging in extortion directed at the institutions of higher education that happen to be within the city's borders. The ostensible reason for the stickup is to shore up the city's foundering pension system.
It will be interesting to see how or if the AP develops this story in the coming day before the possible Wednesday vote.
Also, the "first-of-its-kind" tax that Ravenstahl wants to impose has gotten surprisingly little national notice since he first proposed it in mid-November.
While it has been documented that CNN's Howard Kurtz chided his own news network for ignoring the recently-revealed scandal involving Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominating his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position -- after the CNN anchor had monitored CNN on Saturday -- it turns out that on Sunday morning, even before Kurtz's Reliable Sources show had begun, CNN had already started to pay more attention to the scandal than the news network had on Saturday, but -- while one may argue the story deserves even more attention -- CNN Sunday Morning actually devoted somewhat more time to the story than the other morning newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, and even FNC.
Baucus was also directly labeled as a Democrat by CNN Sunday Morning co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Betty Nguyen, which the two had done in the previous day's story on CNN Saturday Morning. The Baucus scandal was mentioned several other times during the day on CNN NewsRoom, each time with Baucus clearly identified as a Democrat.
On CNN Saturday Morning News today, anchors Betty Nguyen and T.J. Holmes reported on a U.S. senator who nominated his girlfriend to serve as a federal prosecutor earlier this year:
HOLMES: Well, it is something -a player, a name that a lot of people normally might not know a whole lot about, from a state that most people don't know a whole lot about. He's been important in the health care debate.
NGUYEN: That is true.
HOLMES: Senator Max Baucus, out of Montana, he is a key player on a Senate committee that has been putting together some health care legislation. News coming out that he actually nominated his current girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position, while the two were involved. They are both divorced here. So that is not an issue and not accused of breaking up each other marriages.
NGUYEN: Yes, there was no affair or anything like that at all.
Imagine if you will that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was accused of taking gift cards donated to her office for redistribution to needy constituents and using them instead for a personal spending spree.
The media firestorm would swirl uncontrollably, of course, and certainly you couldn't fault the media for reporting on the ensuing criminal trial.
Well, this sort of this has happened, only to the Democratic mayor of Baltimore Sheila Dixon who was convicted yesterday on a misdemeanor charge of embezzling, yet the coverage from the broadcast networks has been non-existent until the trial's conclusion.
A search of "Sheila Dixon" among ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts catalogued on Nexis from January 1, 2007 to December 2, 2009 yielded only three hits. None of the stories were about Dixon's trial, and one, an April 30, 2008 "Nightline" story on predatory mortgage lending, cast Dixon in a favorable light as a champion of citizens who have been exploited by mortgage lenders.