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.
Twelve days ago I noted how the Baltimore Sun failed to mention indicted Mayor Sheila Dixon's Democratic Party affiliation in a story about an embezzlement trial. The mayor stands accused of misappropriating gift cards intended for poor Baltimoreans. Instead of making sure the donated retail gift cards got into the hands of needy folks, Dixon is alleged to have used them for her own personal shopping spree.
Former Congressman William Jefferson, the New Orleans Democrat with bribery cash hidden in his freezer, was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison, the longest-ever for a Member of Congress on a corruption charge -- yet the CBS Evening News didn't utter a word about it, just as that newscast ignored his August conviction, while ABC's World News didn't bother to mention his party affiliation.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted Jefferson's party in this short item: “Former Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson made headlines a while back when the FBI found $90,000 in cash hidden in his freezer. Today, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking bribes.”
ABC's Charles Gibson, however, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, failed to identify Jefferson as a Democrat: “Former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for his conviction on federal bribery charges. Authorities found $90,000 wrapped in foil in Jefferson’s freezer, part of the half million dollars prosecutors say he received for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.”
The theft trial of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) began yesterday, but in covering the story, the Baltimore Sun failed to note Dixon's Democratic party affiliation.
The Washington Post, syndicating the story, also failed to note Dixon's affiliation in their caption to an Associated Press photo of the mayor which reads, "Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is accused of buying personal items using gift cards donated to her office."
The unsigned story by the Sun notes that Dixon is alleged to have practically stolen from her city's poorest residents for her own personal gain:
The Democratic mayor of Oakland, CA and his wife recently admitted to failing to pay $239,000 in taxes since 2005. The San Francisco Chronicle covered the story, but made no mention of the mayor's party, in striking contrast to coverage of recent ethics violations by Republicans in the state.
"We owe taxes," Mayor Ron Dellums, pictured right, bluntly said in a statement on Tuesday. "The matter is being dealt with and will be resolved in short order." The IRS imposed a tax lien on the couple's $1.4 million home in the Foxhall Crescent neighborhood in Washington, DC, and 3,200 square foot house in Oakland Hills.
There is no party identification in the story, however, only a statement in the second-to-last paragraph that Dellums is a "stalwart of progressive ideals." It seems the Chronicle could not bring itself to state the he is a Democrat.
Update/Clarification [Nov. 10]: This issue is muddied a bit by redistricting and its effects on the geography of congressional representation. Swing State Project in June 2009 noted that "Almost two-thirds of the population of the current district (62%) live in territory" in the New York 23rd "that has not elected a Democrat since 1890 or earlier." However, a sizable part of the district (38%) includes parts of counties that as late as 1976 and 1978 voted Democratic in congressional races.
If you've heard it once, you've heard it 1,000 times: the New York 23rd Congressional District (NY-23) has had a Republican incumbent since the 1870s. It's a helpful talking point for mainstream media types bent on portraying the Hoffman loss in the district last night as evidence of how the Republican mainstream has moved away from conservatism.
Two Republican chairmen in South Carolina have apologized for an op-ed article that made a clumsy comment about wealthy Jews being fiscally prudent. Reporter Robbie Brown and The New York Times's headline writers quickly let us know the two offenders were Republican: "2 South Carolina Republicans Apologize for Reference to Jews."
It made quite a contrast from how the Times treated a Democratic candidate for Congress who circulated truly scurrilous claims against her Jewish opponent in a 2008 primary election.
In Wednesday's story, both the online headline (the print edition headline is different) and a photo caption readily identified the offenders as members of the GOP, as did Brown in his first sentence:
Two Republican county chairmen in South Carolina have apologized for a newspaper op-ed article that stereotyped Jews as financial penny pinchers.
Okay ladies and gentlemen, it's time to once again play America's favorite political parlor game---Name That Party! And today we have a special two-part episode: Broward County and Jersey City. First up Broward County but I warn you, it won't be easy to figure out the political party to which the protagonists belong. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has certainly played along in keeping the party label under wraps as you can see in this story:
School Board member Beverly Gallagher, County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman were arrested and charged in a public corruption probe Wednesday.
Early this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the Associated Press's treatment of the firing of two employees at ACORN's Baltimore office. These employees were successfully stung by undercover filmmaker James O'Keefe, who posed as a pimp (one who said he has plans to use the money from his "enterprise" to run for Congress), and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute.
In a pair of videos (full script here) released on Thursday, viewers saw the two helpful ACORN Baltimore employees tell O'Keefe and Giles, among many jaw-dropping things, that:
Giles should call herself a “freelance performing artist” for tax purposes.
That they should claim three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes as dependents.
That the prostitute should also claim child tax credits for those declared as "dependents."
O'Keefe and Giles piled on Friday morning by releasing a second pair of videos showing that they had pulled off a similar sting at ACORN's DC office.
But if we're to believe the Associated Press's Hope Yen, Friday's out of the blue decision by the Census Bureau to sever its ties with ACORN in connection with the 2010 census had nothing or at most very little to do with what O'Keefe and Giles pulled off. Instead, Yen portrayed the decision as a cave-in to the minority party in Washington known as Republicans. Uh-huh.
Thursday night, the Associated Press reported on the Baltimore ACORN sting carried out by James O'Keefe of Andrew Breitbart's new BigGovernment.com web site. A paragraph near the end of the report is virtually a de facto commercial for the controversial group.
As to the sting itself, in case you missed it -- in two devastating videos originally posted here that you must see, O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute who, as summarized in original Fox News coverage, told officials at ACORN's Baltimore office that they "wanted to secure housing where the woman could continue to maintain a prostitution business."
ACORN said Thursday that it has fired the two employees who are seen on tape telling O'Keefe and Giles the following, among a host of sickening howlers:
Sadly, posts like this one about the continued refusal of the Associated Press to label disgraced and now-indicted Northeast Pennsylvania judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are starting to sound like a broken record.
Fair enough, but someone has to track the record AP is apparently seeking, the one for "most failures to mention a Democratic Party affiliation after initially doing so."
You see, in an early report back in February when the story first broke, AP told readers (as noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that "Both are Democrats." Shortly thereafter, revised and extended versions of that early report omitted the two judges' party affiliations.
No other AP story since issued that I am aware of has told readers that Ciavarella and Conahan are Democrats, even though the wire service's reports on case developments have gone over their national wire, as seen here today at AP's raw feed at about 2PM:
Leon H. Wolf of RedState.com makes a great comparison today, calling out the Associated Press for their labeling bias. This post, found here, is hilariously entitled “AP Discovers GOP Republican Conservative Republican Member of the GOP (R) Involved In Scandal.”
Wolf pointed out the difference between this story and the AP’s coverage of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick:
Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades HQ has a great "name that party" catch today. Malor noted that at least three major news outlets all failed to note the high-powered Democratic Party ties of one Hassan Nemazee, a businessman arrested this morning on a charge of bank fraud against Citigroup:
A candidate for lieutenant governor of the great state of Vermont may be under criminal investigation for lewd acts in public.
Oh, and by the way, he’s a Democrat.
One might miss that fact by reading the NBC affiliate’s report too quickly – the party affiliation of state Senator Ed Flanagan is buried in the tenth paragraph. One might argue that noting the party affiliation of Vermont politicians is somewhat redundant; however, one must also recall that Senator Bernie Sanders is an independent-leaning-socialist and the governor is a Republican. Another local report completely omits his party affiliation.
Oddly enough, this is not the first time the esteemed state senator has attracted complaints about this sort of thing:
Yet when reporting the story shortly after 9:30 a.m. EDT today, "CNN Newsroom" anchor Heidi Collins neglected to mention Jefferson's Democratic Party affiliation.
What's more, ten minutes earlier, neither Collins nor CNN producer Mike Ahlers mentioned the party affiliation of another ethically compromised Democrat, admitted adulterer John Edwards. The former one-term senator is under investigation for payments made by his political action committee to a former mistress.
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News devoted a full minute to the guilty convictions for bribery, racketeering and wire fraud against former nine-term Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, but failed to name his political party.
ABC's Charles Gibson mentioned Jefferson's party in a brief World News item. The CBS Evening News didn't air anything about Jefferson's convictions which were announced just under an hour before the 6:30 PM EDT feeds of the newscasts shown in the eastern and central time zones, though Couric did manage to highlight how “Giants quarterback Eli Manning agreed today to a six-year deal for $97 million, making him the highest-paid player ever in the NFL.”
NBC considered the case important enough to send Pete Williams to the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia (just a few blocks from MRC HQ), but he didn't cite Jefferson's party and while anchor Brian Williams set up his colleague by referring to the “case of the cold, hard cash, money that was famously found in the freezer at the home of William Jefferson,” he identified Jefferson only as “a former Congressman from Louisiana.”
Here's a particularly noteworthy "Name That Party" follow-up.
In a February post ("AP’s ‘Name That Party’ Twist: Disgraced PA Judges’ Dem Party ID Disappears After Initial Inclusion"; at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the Associated Press had originally identified the party of two Democratic judges involved in a shocking scheme that pushed thousands of juvenile offenders into detention centers for minor offenses in return for millions in kickbacks.
However, in longer subsequent reports, the AP dropped the party affiliation of Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella (pictured at left) and Michael Conahan.
This evening, in a 5-paragraph story (as of 7:47 p.m.; story could change over time) about a federal judge's refusal to accept plea agreements from the pair, AP Writer MaryClaire Dale stayed consistent with the wire service's see-no-Democrats approach to developments in this grisly story:
ABC’s Ron Claiborne on Saturday managed to file a report on vast Democratic corruption in the state of New Jersey and, at the same time, not once use the word Democrat. While reporting on an unfolding scandal that saw the arrest of a number of the state’s mayors and assemblymen, all but one a member of the Democratic Party, the Good Morning America weekend news anchor completely ignored party identification.
Claiborne vaguely explained, "44 people indicted, including three mayors, two state legislators and five rabbis and allegations of money laundering, kickbacks and bribe taking." The journalist used the same tactic as he went on to highlight the history of corruption by New Jersey politicians: "Robert Torricelli left office in 2003, under the shadow of an illegal campaign contribution scandal. And Harrison Williams resigned his seat in 1982 while under indictment for bribery."
Claiborne added, "Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James is currently serving time after being convicted on federal corruption charges." What fact is absent from this description of New Jersey’s woes? All of the above are Democrats. He continued this list by highlighting another unidentified Democrat: "Hoboken Mayor Pete Cammarano took office three weeks ago. In a matter of days, he allegedly took a $25,000 bribe."
Continuing a well-established pattern, the broadcast network evening newscasts all failed to point out the party affiliation of the major New Jersey office-holders amongst the 44 people the FBI arrested Thursday for corruption. As the AP pointed out, all but one are Democrats: “Among the 44 people arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus, Jersey City's deputy mayor, and two state assemblymen. A member of the governor's cabinet resigned after agents searched his home, though he was not arrested. All but one of the office holders are Democrats.”
Nonetheless, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Deborah Feyerick saw a bi-partisan scandal. In the 5 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room, though five of the six elected officials (including all three mayors and the deputy mayor) are Democrats, Blitzer announced: “Dozens of public figures, including mayors, are caught in a stunning corruption sweep. They belong to both major parties.” From Newark, Feyerick reported “nearly 30 politicians and public officials, Democrats and Republicans, were rounded up in what prosecutors called the largest sweep of its kind.”
On CBS, reporter Kelly Wallace noted: “This is all part of a ten-year public corruption investigation that has already yielded two other high-profile indictments. Officials say some politicians don't seem to be getting the message.” Neither have the media about reporting party affiliation as both of those earlier “high-profile indictments” were of Democrats: Former state Senator Wayne Bryant and Assemblyman Joseph Vas.
This morning, some 30 people were arrested in New Jersey, the fruit of a two-year federal investigation into a international money laundering scandal. Among those arrested were Democratic Mayors Peter Cammarano III (Hoboken) and Dennis Elwell (Secaucus), as well as Democratic deputy mayor of Jersey City Leona Beldini and Republican state Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt.
But if you only got your news of this mass arrest from the Associated Press, you would not learn the party affiliation of these politicians. To their credit, other news outlets readily accessible to New Jerseyans such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal noted the party affiliations of these allegedly crooked pols.
On Thursday, Chicago-based New York Times reporter Monica Davey reported on more controversy over Rod Blagojevich, the corrupt former Democratic governor of Illinois who tried to sell off the state's U.S. Senate seat that was left empty after Sen. Barack Obama assumed the presidency. In "Top Blagojevich Aide Pleads Guilty to Fraud," Davey managed to totally ignore Blagojevich's Democratic affiliation -- the word "Democrat" was nowhere to be found.
Turn the page, and one could read John Schwartz's story about the latest wrinkle in the bribery and corruption case of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. But in this case, Schwartz made the partisan lines clear, quickly identifying convicted governor Siegelman as a Democrat and his prosecutor as a Republican, heightening the contrast and reinforcing the paper's long-standing, unfounded suspicions of a high-level anti-Siegelman conspiracy on the part of the GOP.
A Department of Justice whistle-blower who accused prosecutors of misconduct in the closely watched federal corruption trial of former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama has been fired, and claims retaliation is the reason. The government denies that it was retaliating.
The whistle-blower, Tamarah T. Grimes, worked as a legal aide with the team prosecuting Mr. Siegelman and Richard M. Scrushy, the former chairman of HealthSouth, on bribery and corruption charges.
Both men were convicted in 2006 in a case that Mr. Siegelman, a Democrat, and supporters say was politically motivated.
Noteworthy from Friday night's broadcast network evening newscasts which, a day after his death, spent 95 percent of their air time on Michael Jackson -- all but 1:03 of ABC's approximate 22 minutes was devoted to Jackson, all but 34 seconds of CBS and all but 1:22 of NBC, for 2:59, less than three minutes in total for all news beyond Jackson:
♦ Only ABC's World News reported how Monica Conyers, a Detroit city councilwoman married to powerful U.S. House Democrat John Conyers, pled guilty to accepting bribes. But anchor Charles Gibson, who on Wednesday night made sure to identify Mark Sanford as “a rising star in the Republican Party,” failed to name the party affiliation for either Monica Conyers or John Conyers, and neither did any on-screen graphic. Speaking of Detroit, last year, when Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged with felonies, Gibson (as well as the CBS and NBC anchors) didn't consider Kilpatrick's party worth mentioning.
♦ ABC also uniquely found a little time, a mere 20 seconds, to mention House action on President Obama's “cap and trade” bill. As noted by the MRC's Business and Media Institute, for months the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts have barely covered the bill “that would cost each family $1,241 a year.” CBS and NBC kept up the near-blackout again Friday night. Gibson outlined how “the bill would impose limits pollution from power plants and factories and force a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” but also noted: “Critics charge it will drive up energy costs for consumers.”
In their latest article analyzing the extramarital affairs of the deplorable Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, the Associated Press demonstrates once again that the word ‘logic’ has somehow become lost in translation.
In a piece entitled, Sanford’s extramarital affair a problem for GOP,the AP gleefully discusses the topic of Sanford’s misdeeds and their potential effect on the Republican Party – a valid analysis. However, it takes no more than two paragraphs before the author dispenses with the aforementioned term ‘logic’, and decides instead to inexplicably link and attack several other GOP governors who have nothing to do with this affair.
In his Wednesday brief, "Senator Says He Had Affair With An Aide," New York Times reporter David Herszenhorn let us know by the fourth word that U.S. Senator John Ensign of Nevada, the senator who confessed to the extramarital affair, is a Republican. In paragraph four, Herszenhorn poured on the salt, bringing up Ensign's former membership in Promise Keepers, a Christian ministry that promotes marriage.
Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, admitted Tuesday that he had an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff.
All three broadcast network morning shows on Wednesday made a point of labeling Nevada Senator John Ensign as a “Republican” after the Senator came forward last night to admit having an extramarital affair last year. NBC, which refrained for days from calling New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a “Democrat” after his relationship with a prostitute was exposed, called Ensign a “conservative Republican,” while CBS made a point of reciting Ensign’s associations with Christian groups.
ABC’s Good Morning America provided the only full report, with the on-screen headline declaring “Leading GOP Senator Admits Affair.” News anchor Chris Cuomo and correspondent Jonathan Karl noted Ensign’s Republican affiliation three times: “A rising star in the Republican Party is coming forward....” “John Ensign is a member of the Republican leadership....” and “The Republican from Nevada admits cheating on his wife...”
Last year, NewsBusters noted how the networks always added the “Republican” label to GOP politicians caught in sex scandals, but not Democrats; with their coverage of the Ensign scandal this morning, the networks are maintaining their perfectly slanted approach.
And now another episode of Name That Party where the news customer reads a story and tries his darndest to discern from what party a scandal plagued politician hails. We have many times said that one of the main rules of the Name That Party parlor game is that if the Old Media is talking about a troubled Democrat, often times the pol's party is either not mentioned at all or is buried way down in the story. On the other hand, if it is a troubled Republican, why the party affiliation often leads the story if it isn't right in the headline itself. Today we have a pair of stories that proves this axiom well.
First up is the mysterious case of Detroit City Council Member Monica Conyers (wife of Representative John Conyers) who the Associated Press reports is "snarled in bribes probe." All the sordid details about the tale are laid out for us... except one. It seems the AP somehow forgot to mention that Monica Conyers is a Democrat.
It's been a little while since we had a good "Name that Party" story, but leave it to corruption plagued Democrats and their willing accomplices in the Old Media to always find some time in their busy schedules to give us an opportunity to play our favorite game. This time it is a former Speaker of the House in Massachusetts who, along with a cadre of his pals, was indicted on corruption charges. Naturally, the party affiliation is mysteriously absent from many of the stories.
It seems that ex-Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who resigned from the House back in January at the outset of this scandal, and three "Beacon Hill power brokers" have been indicted on corruption charges involving mishandled software contracts. Of course, DiMasi is a leading Democrat in the state, but you sure wouldn't know that from any of the reports.