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.
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.