Blago and Burris, Sitting in a tree, But they'd rather we not know their political party.
There has been yet another revelation about contacts between Democratic President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate successor, Democrat Roland Burris and former Illinois Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich over Blago's pre-Senate appointment, uh, deliberations. A released FBI audio recording reveals that Burris offered to make a campaign contribution to Blago as he lobbied to be selected.
This news has brought on yet another wave of stories that fail to tell us what party Blago and Burris belong to.
The Washington Post is the only publication that identified the party of both men in the course of reporting their story. The Post's Peter Slevin and Perry Bacon Jr. also identified the Democratic Party affiliation of the Senate Ethics Committee's Barbara Boxer:
Democratic Cincinnati City Councilwoman Laketa Cole was pulled over by city police on Wednesday afternoon along with a friend while each was driving their own motorcycle.
WCPO-TV Channel 9 investigated the incident, and found that Cole appeared to attempt to get special treatment to avoid having her friend's motorcycle seized.
The video verion of WCPO's report ultimately notes that Cole and her friend received tickets. But "somehow," the text that is supposed to reflect the content of the video does not.
The station did not mention Cole's Democratic Party affiliation in its report, or in its follow-up when Cole called to defend herself. The Cincinnati Democratic Committee endorsed Cole's reelection bid this November on April 8. The Cincinnati Enquirer's report on the incident also doesn't name Cole's party.
That's bad enough, but when Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Alex Triantafilou issued a press release denouncing Cole's apparent attempts at obtaining favoritism, the Enquirer only identified Triantafilou's party, and not Cole's (Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County).
In early March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Toledo Blade Columbus Bureau reporter Jim Provance named the party of Ohio's Republican State Auditor Mary Taylor, who sharply criticized Democratic Governor Ted Strickland's serious lateness with the state's financial statements -- so late that they couldn't possibly be audited until after the Ohio General Assembly passes the budget for the two-year fiscal period that will begin on July 1.
Provance never named Strickland's or any other Democrat's party.
I should have mentioned that the governor is a Democrat. I mentioned Ms. Taylor's party affiliation because she is of the opposite party of the person she is criticizing. Just a fact that should be put out there. I should have taken the next step of noting the governor's party."
It is disappointing, but not at all surprising, that the Democratic Party affiliation of the politicians involved in the union-driven campaign to force Wells Fargo Bank not to liquidate the Chicago-area operations of Hartmarx, the high-end clothier which has made suits for President Obama, has not been noted in the vast majority of stories I have reviewed about ongoing developments there.
The two Illinois politicians (there are others named below) are Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has formed a US Senate seat exploratory committee in hopes of unseating current occupant Roland Burris, and 13th District Congressman Phil Hare.
The situation, for those just learning of it, is described pretty well at this Chicago Sun-Times story by Sandra Guy, who at least flagged Hare's Democratic affiliation:
Even after Hart Schaffner Marx plant workers in Des Plaines unanimously stood up shouting their approval of staging a sit-in if Wells Fargo presses their parent company to liquidate, Wells Fargo said parent company Hartmarx is unable to repay more than $114 million it owes the bank.
Shoot, he's only talking about pulling $8 billion in state-controlled money because a bank won't go easy on a business borrower who can't pay. What's the big deal?
Well, the story involves the company that makes suits for President Barack Obama (pictured at right). Beyond that, the union at that company is citing the US Treasury Department's Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) as a reason that company's bank should in essence bail it out.
You might think that these two factors, combined with what I'm characterizing as a loyalty oath all financial institutions who do business with the State of Illinois must soon agree to (covered later), might make the Treasurer's and union's threats a national story. You would be wrong.
Here is most of the very short AP item, carried at the Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register, and referred to me by a NewsBusters commenter:
While a segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show reported on an upcoming book by Elizabeth Edwards in which she discusses her reaction to husband John Edwards having an affair, at no time was Edwards’ Democratic Party affiliation mentioned. Co-host Maggie Rodriguez began the story: "But first, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, is about to release a memoir called 'Resilience.' Mrs. Edwards, who has cancer, speaks out about her husband's very public betrayal of her, an affair with a former campaign worker."
In a report by correspondent Bianca Soloranzo, past infidelities of Democratic politicians were mentioned, but no party affiliations were given: "Elizabeth Edwards joins a long line of political wives who have stood by their cheating spouses." A clip of former President Bill Clinton was played: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate." A clip was also played of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family." Beth Frerking of Politico was quoted downplaying such affairs: " I think when people marry people that go into politics or have ambitions to go into politics, they know that this is part of the package. And I think really it's the exception when that spouse leaves."
Following the report, Rodriguez spoke with psychologist Robi Ludwig about the frequency of politicians cheating on their spouses, but prefaced the discussion by exclaiming: "First of all, we should say we're not in their house, we're not in their shoes, we don't know why they made the decision they made...Very important, I think, to point out." Rodriguez never made that disclaimer when making personal judgments about Bristol Palin or Miss California Carrie Prejean.
Okay, boys and girls, it's time to play on America's favorite political game show.....NAME THAT PARTY!!!
Today's show features a highly unpopular mayor of New Orleans written up in the New York Times. The first person who thinks he knows the political party affiliation of the mayor, please hit the buzzer. The hidden clues might be hard to find in this article but they could lead the more carefully discerning among you to the correct answer:
NEW ORLEANS — As Mayor C. Ray Nagin approaches his final year in office, he faces scandal, an acrimonious stalemate with the City Council and the worst popularity ratings ever recorded for a mayor here.
Party Affiliation - Let relevance be the guide in determining whether to include a political figure's party affiliation in a story. Party affiliation is pointless in some stories, such as an account of a governor accepting a button from a poster child.
It will occur naturally in many political stories. For stories between these extremes, include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.
The AP, as readers here know, frequently flouts its own standards when Democrats are involved in legal or personal difficulties in its reporters' original write-ups. That's bad enough. But what's doubly offensive, and sadly no longer surprising, is how its writers seem to actively work to purge party references from other publications' original local or single-state stories about Democratic politicians or officials involved in scandal or other troubles.
In the latest example, it isn't just that the subject's party isn't directly identified. Based on AP's "clever" composition, many readers are likely to conclude that the person in trouble is a Republican.
On April 14, The Toledo Blade, apparently having temporarily misplaced the comma key, reported that "Longtime Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and a top commander and two former deputies were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges related to the 2004 death of an inmate at the jail" (HT to Maggie Thurber in an e-mail).
The Blade, which likes to brag about the over 1,000 articles (I'm not kidding) it carried about Republican Tom Noe's coin-dealing losses and related matters several years ago, nearly all of which reminded readers of Noe's GOP affiliation, "somehow" forgot to tell readers that Sheriff Telb is a Democrat (scroll down to list of "Uncontested Races" at link").
The Blade's blind spot on Sheriff Telb's party has been on display frequently since then. Telb's party affiliation is nowhere to be found in these other Blade reports:
The Associated Press's determination to keep the identity of Democrats in trouble or under investigation hidden is indeed strong and persistent.
Its report (as of 11:03 p.m.; a copy is saved here at my web host for future reference) on the launch of an ethics probe into Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr.'s relationship with ousted former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, particularly relating to Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama, does not refer to Jackson or Blago as a Democrat. Any more, that's relatively unremarkable.
What is a bit more remarkable is that the underlying Chicago Sun-Times story on the impending probe refers to Jackson twice as a "D-Ill," once in the report's very first sentence and once in the picture caption copied at the top right (which, of all things, is apparently an AP file photo).
This means that AP had to proactively scrub the Democratic Party references already present in its underlying source.
When a former Alabama judge is indicted on 57 felony counts, including sodomy, kidnapping and paddling jail inmates, that's news. If the judge is a Democrat once under consideration for the Federal bench by Bill Clinton, that part isn't news.
Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas has bonded out of the Mobile County Metro Jail after he was arrested Friday afternoon. Before his arrest, Thomas was indicted by a grand jury on 57 felony counts, accusing him of, among other things, sexually abusing Mobile County inmates in exchange for favors in his courtroom. Thomas is charged with ethics violations, kidnapping, extortion, sexual abuse and sodomy. The indictment against him includes graphic details of alleged paddling and other sexual favors. Eight victims are named in the indictment. All of the alleged victims are men.
Today's Chicago Tribune, taking a cue from its hero Barack Obama, gave bracketeering a try. The contenders, all former Illinois and Louisiana public officials, were selected for a smackdown to determine the most disgraceful.
The rivals from Louisiana were former Governors Huey Long and Edwin Edwards, former Congressman William "Refrigerator" Jefferson, and former New Orleans City Council president Oliver Thomas (identified as Thomas Oliver by the newspaper.). Weighing in from Illinois were former Governors George Ryan and Milorad "Call Me Rod" Blagojevich, former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and former Chicago alderman Arenda Troutman.
The Trib gave the nod to Edwin Edwards, although I think the competition was marred by not having an Illinois Daley in the competition. Setting that aside, what was interesting is the Tribune didn't mention party affiliation in its bracketeering. Seven of the eight contenders, or 87.5 percent, were Democrats. Gee, what a surprise.
I think it is finally getting to the point that when an Old Media story goes out over the wires without mentioning the party affiliation of troubled politicians, people naturally assume that all the criminal actions in said story are being perpetrated by Democrats. But, that assumption aside, we are still seeing reports nearly every day that omit the "Democrat" in any story involving criminal Democrats. Here is yet another one.
The Associated Press posted a story on the FBI's probe of questionable campaign donations to Senator Patty Murray and Representative Norm Dicks of Washington state. The possibly worrisome donations were from PMA Group, a lobbying firm founded by an aide of Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania. With all these politician's names being thrown around in the AP report, though, it is curious that not a one of them were ever identified as Democrats. Not once.
Manny Aragon was one of New Mexico's most powerful law makers and power brokers. A former Senate president, Aragon was this week convicted and given a 67 month sentence for lining his pockets and that of his co-conspiritors with millions in fraudulently billed state contracting money.
While his "iconic" status is mentioned and his long standing position as a "Senate leader" is dutifully chronicled, his status as a Democrat doesn't seem to make the cut of a large portion of the stories on his sentencing.
Tuesday's CBS Evening News highlighted an ethics investigation of a long-serving House Democrat, but viewers were not clued in to his party affiliation verbally or with any an on-screen notation. Yet CBS slapped a party name on screen as a Murtha critic spoke: “Rep. Jeff Flake (R) Arizona.”
Fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez avoided Murtha's party as she asserted “there are few politicians as polarizing as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha” and referred to him as “a powerful member of Congress.” In a story which consumed about-two-and-a- half minutes, reporter Sharyl Attkisson also failed to identify Murtha's party.
Vincent Fumo's chronicle of corruption is extraordinary, even by the "standards" of Philadelphia, PA.
Thus, it's a journalistic fail that in a story about the convictions of former 30-year state senator Fumo and longtime associate Ruth Arnao, NBC Philadephia (HT Michelle Malkin) did not identify his or her Democratic Party party affiliation.
Here is a portion of NBC Philly's early-morning story:
Fumo Guilty on All Counts
Guilty is the verdict on all 137 counts for Vince Fumo in his federal corruption trail. His co-defendant Ruth Arnao is also guilty on all counts against her.
The Associated Press wire relayed a short item on Friday about how outgoing Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman (D-Salisbury, Md.) recently slammed bloggers as the greatest threat to her fair Eastern Shore city.
SALISBURY — In her final State of the City address, Salisbury Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman warned residents of what she sees as a great danger to the city: malicious bloggers.
Tilghman said in her address Thursday that over the last five years, the presence of a small group of suspicious, mean-spirited people focused on the negative has grown, endangering the city's vitality.
Tilghman says some people are avoiding serving their city because it's not worth chancing the scorn of bloggers. But Tilghman says they need to stand up for the city.
Tilghman's final day in office is April 19, but she says she plans to remain active in the city. She says she plans to give a less formal farewell address before leaving office.
As you can see, Tilghman's Democratic Party affiliation is curiously missing from the story, even though her party affiliation is no mystery to mainstream journalists such as Andy Green of the Baltimore Sun, who took note of her retirement in a December 15, 2008 blog post:
"Villaraigosa affair may not be one to remember," prophesied the July 7, 2007 headline in the L.A. Times. A year and a half later, the Associated Press danced around the Democratic Los Angeles mayor's adulterous liaison with a Spanish-language reporter assigned to the city hall beat.
From today's story on his March 3 re-election accessed at CBSNews.com (emphases mine), notice how the AP pulls its punches, euphemizing the adulterous affair in the 12th paragraph of the story:
The mayor of Los Angeles easily won re-election after a bumpy first term in the nation's second-largest city, fueling speculation that he will be among contenders next year to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the first Hispanic mayor in more than a century, was rewarded Tuesday with a second, four-year trip to City Hall despite an uneven first term that saw the breakup of his marriage and the defeat of his signature plan to reform city schools.
You've got to hand it to Jim Provance of the Toledo Blade. He managed only to identify the party of a Republican in a story that is primarily about a Democratic administration's failure to produce timely financial statements.
Democratic Governor Ted Strickland, his administration, and his appointed Democrats in Ohio's Office of Budget and Management are not going to have the state's records in auditable condition until after the General Assembly passes the budget for the NEXT biennium beginning July 1 of this year. This is a situation that Republican State Auditor Mary Taylor yesterday called "unprecedented."
So "naturally," Provance identified Taylor's twice party in his report covering the situation, and failed to specifically name the party of any other statewide official -- or Strickland himself. Oh we can infer it, but inferences don't show up in search engine results. The words "Democrat" or "Democratic" are nowhere to be found.
Here are the key excerpts from the story (link corrected from original when posted):
There's an N-Word you apparently write at your own risk if you're in the establishment media. It's "nationalization."
The Associated Press's Stephen Bernard, with the help of old reliables Jeannine Aversa and Martin Crutsinger, blew through almost 800 words (link is dynamic; 12:49 p.m. version is saved here for future reference, is now authored by Crutsinger, and is longer than what I originally read) about the deal between Uncle Sam and Citigroup, under which the government could end up with a 36% ownership stake -- almost certainly enough, as Citi's largest shareholder, to impose its will -- without mentioning the term.
Another precious tidbit is in the story's second-last paragraph (bold is mine):
Last month, Robert Rubin, a former Treasury Secretary who was a longtime Citigroup board member, and Win Bischoff, most recently chairman at Citigroup, both announced their retirement from the company.
"A" former Treasury Secretary?
Gee, until recently he was known as Democratic Treasury Secretary under Democrat Bill Clinton.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. We do want to thank you for starting with us. It is the 21st of February, and we do want to begin with some breaking news.
HOLMES: Yes, and kind of a -- a shocker that went through the -- the newsroom this morning.
Yes, you remember that name and you remember that face in all likelihood. That is Chandra Levy, the 24-year-old who went missing some nine years ago now -- eight years ago, more specifically. An arrest, we're being told now, is imminent in this case. This is coming to us from our CNN affiliate out in the Bay Area, KGO. This is one of the most infamous D.C. cold cases out there. Again, some eight years old.
Just a little background on this case. You remember this young lady went missing in D.C. Got a lot of attention for one reason because of her relationship that it came out that she had with Congressman Gary Condit, who is no longer a congressman now. But a relationship that came out.
He was never -- there he is there -- never officially a suspect in the case.
HOLMES: But that was a reason this case got so much attention. And now, Betty, as we're hearing, an arrest...
HOLMES: ...is imminent in this case.
NGUYEN: The case not only ended Condit's career, but we are learning this morning that there is a suspect, a man who is indeed behind bars at this hour.
Of the 14 politicians identified, seven are Democrats and seven are Republicans. Five of the seven GOP members are identified as such, while only two of the seven Democrats were flagged. The montage also has a couple of surprising factual errors.
Well, glory be, sometime in the past couple of months, ABC has made changes to the montage. Now each profile except for Bill Clinton's (which is excusable) identifies the politician's party. Additionally, two factual errors at the original profiles have been corrected. The year of Clinton's Lewinsky scandal which ultimately led to his acts of perjury and impeachment has been changed from 1995 to 1998, and an incorrect statement that sex-scandalized Florida Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney had conceded to GOP opponent Tom Rooney before Election Day last year has been removed.
Here's the lineup of the "Faces of Political Scandal," and how their status changed:
Now it would be easy to say, "But of course she's a Democrat; she's from Chicago." Okay, but the Sun-Times, in five other reports spread over almost two years, mentioned her party only once. What's more, the Tribune's coverage quoted Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Alesia saying that Troutman had been on "a five-year crime spree. .... Even by Chicago standards, it's (what she did is) no small crime." Logically, this would mean that even by Chicago Democratic Party standards, what Troutman did stood out.
Troutman's "obvious" Democratic Party affiliation also doesn't exonerate the Associated Press, whose stories go national and worldwide, And yes, there are plenty of people around the country and in the rest of the world who do not know that Democrats own Windy City politics (a little reminder every once in a while to those who do know wouldn't hurt either).
This "Name That Party" situation has many of the usual elements. There are several stories about two Democratic judges involved in criminal behavior in Pennsylvania, and, with one exception, they "somehow" don't get around to identifying their party.
But this saga is different for two reasons:
The crimes to which the judges have pleaded guilty involve "thousands" of juveniles.
In one lonely exception, the Associated Press's coverage prominently identified the judges' party. But in what was apparently a subsequent longer revision, their party identification disappeared.
What follows is a side-by-side picture of the first four paragraphs of a February 11 AP story carried at topix.com (also saved at my host for future reference), and of the five paragraphs of the story as it now appears at MSNBC (also saved at host; red and green boxes are mine; portions of the Topix link were moved from their original locations on the page for demonstration purposes; MSNBC graphic is of the printer-friendly version):
I knew he was a prolific text-messager, but I had no idea former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) was a whiz with computer software.
Yet the perjurious former chief executive of Motor City is "talented and has a lot of charisma," as the Associated Press today described Compuware Corporation executive Peter Karmanos's assessment of Kilpatrick. According to the AP, Kilpatrick will be a customer representative for the company, dealing with public sector clients such as state government agencies.
Besides leaving out Kilpatrick's Democratic party affiliation, the AP's February 13 item left unmentioned that Karmanos is a hefty political donor to both sides of the aisle -- over $213,000 in federal contributions since 1994 -- and once gave $1,000 to the 2004 congressional campaign of Kilpatrick's mother, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), according to OpenSecrets.org.
Disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was released shortly after midnight this morning, having served a 99-day jail term. Reporting the story, the Associated Press noted the pol's Democratic Party affiliation in the fourth paragraph of its story, after noting that he "looked thinner and his beard was fuller" than when he was admitted to jail.
Yet in a 43-second AP video narrated by Brian Thomas, the Democratic affiliation went unmentioned but his weight loss figure was more precisely pinned down.
Seven weeks after his arrest for allegedly attempting to peddle Barack Obama’s Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich was removed as governor of Illinois on Thursday. ABC, CBS and NBC all offered full reports last night and this morning, but none of the anchors or reporters provided any hint that Blagojevich was a Democrat.
Back on December 9, reporting on the then-governor’s arrest, NewsBusters noted how all three of the evening newscasts had properly referred to Blagojevich as a Democrat. NBC reporter Lee Cowan described the charge as “that the two-term Democratic Governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder,” while ABC’s Brian Ross stated that “the boyish-looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder.”
But now that the scandal was ending Blagojevich’s political career (he’s now banned from ever serving in public office in Illinois), the networks have dropped the (D) from the story. A round-up of some of the coverage, starting with Thursday’s evening newscasts:
On Tuesday’s CBS ‘Early Show,’ embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was interviewed over the course of two segments, totaling 10 minutes, and was never described as a Democrat. Co-hosts Maggie Rodriguez, Harry Smith and Julie Chen all spoke with the governor at some point and none mentioned his political party. The only acknowledgment of the governor’s party affiliation was in an on-screen graphic that featured a ‘(D) Illinois’ label. A mention of Blagojevich’s political party was similarly lacking on Thursday’s Good Morning America on ABC.
In addition to Early Show hosts failing to note that Blagojevich was a Democrat, none of them asked the governor about any discussions he had with President Obama or other administration officials about filling Obama’s vacant Senate seat. In the second segment in the 7:30AM half hour, Blagojevich declared: "I want to bring Congressman Rahm -- president's chief of staff, my congressman, Rahm Emanuel...I want to bring Valerie Jarrett, who's a high-ranking official in the Obama administration." However, there was no follow-up question to clarify the connection those Obama administration officials had with Blagojevich. Despite such a lack of journalist curiosity, Julie Chen exclaimed at the top of the show: "Blago live. He's faced Larry and Barbara, but his toughest interview is ahead this morning."
Today we have the corresponding opposite to prove the point of our favorite game, “Name That Party.” You see, today we have the case in point of the former Senate leader of New York's legislature Joseph Bruno. Mr. Bruno has been indicted on those ever lovin' federal corruption charges for "defrauding the people of New York from 1993 through at least 2006."
He's a rotten so-and-so, of course. Apparently the FBI has been after him for months and since before he retired from the state legislature. Now he faces an eight-count indictment issued by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York.