My colleague Brent Baker has painstakingly documented how the big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a “Democrat.” An examination of the fifteen ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20% of the time — twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC.
So how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as Republicans, and as problems for their party.
Last July, Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s name surfaced in the phone records of the “DC Madam,” Deborah Jean Palfrey. Over the next week, ABC talked about Vitter twice on World News and twice on Good Morning America, labeling him as a “Republican” or “conservative Republican” all four times.
On Thursday's "Today" show when co-host Meredith Vieira asked NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert if there would be any "fallout for the Democrats" from the Spitzer scandal, Russert asserted: "Probably not....that story pretty much leaves the front pages."
However, last year, when Senate Republicans David Vitter and Larry Craig were in the news for sex scandals the "Today" show wasn't so quick to let those stories rest and predicted they would have a lingering impact on the party and even conservatism as a whole. As the MRC's Tim Graham reminded NewsBusters readers earlier this week, the "Today" show, ran headlines trumpeting: "Conservative Crisis," and "Craig's Crisis: The Last Straw for the GOP?" Co-host Ann Curry used the scandals to bury Republicans on the August 29, 2007 edition of "Today":
Democrats dialing for damsels don't get labeled with the big "D"
Changing His MindRonald Reagan often said "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."
For floundering and foundering New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- a twist on the Gipper's words. Spitzer didn't leave the Democratic Party: the Media just didn't see the need to mention the fact that Spitzer was - at least until noon Wednesday -- one of the most powerful Democrats in the nation.
On Monday afternoon, the Big Three Networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the Associated Press led the charge of the wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news that Spitzer was involved with an interstate prostitution ring. And with near unanimity they failed to mention that Spitzer is a Democrat.
Spitzer - who since his years as the Big Apple's swashbuckling anti-capitalist Attorney General the Press has glowingly called the Champion of the Everyman -- was caught on one or more wiretaps dialing for damsels to the tune of $5,500 an hour.
Only the press can fail to see the irony of calling someone who inherited $500 million - and who hires ladies of the evening at hourly rates equal to a semester's tuition at a state university - a champion of the everyman.
Finally: a news network that made Gov. Eliot Spitzer's party affiliation clear. Chances are you've never heard of it, however.
During live coverage of Spitzer's resignation announcement, Washington, D.C.-area News Channel 8 informed viewers of Spitzer's party affiliation in an on-screen graphic reading "Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) NEW YORK." (see screen grab at right)
NewsChannel 8 is carried on D.C.-area cable systems and is owned along with ABC affiliate WJLA by the Allbritton Communications Company.
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on today's "Fox & Friends" to discuss findings by MRC analysts that Gov. Eliot Spitzer's (D-NY) party affiliation (and Hillary Clinton superdelegate status) has been persistently overlooked in broadcast and print media outlets.:
BOZELL: ABC and then NBC "Nightly News" two days ago, not once mentioned that he was a Democrat. "Good Morning America," not once mentioned that he was a Democrat. ABC nightly news, not once mentioned that he was a Democrat. CBS, one mention on the nightly news, no mention on the morning news. AP did a three-paragraph breaking story, never mentioned that he was a Democrat, then they came out with a full story, never mentioned that he was a Democrat. Last night, NBC, never mentioned he was a Democrat. Last night, ABC never mentioned that he was a Democrat. It is unbelievable.
Co-host Steve Doocy noted that this is not new for the news media, recalling the 2001 Gary Condit saga. Condit, you will recall was suspected in the disappearance of former intern Chandra Levy:
We've written at NewsBusters at how reticent the Associated Press is to note the Democratic Party affiliation of controversial or disgraced politicians, the latest of which is New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. But right off the bat the AP yesterday disclosed the party affiliation of an Oklahoma state legislator strongly critical of gay rights activists.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A Republican member of the Oklahoma Legislature has received death threats since telling a political group that "the homosexual agenda is just destroying this nation" and poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism or Islam.
"I'm not gay-bashing. But according to God's word that is not the right kind of lifestyle," Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City said during an appearance before a group of Republicans. Her comments were recorded and posted on the video sharing Web site YouTube on Friday by the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
The AP made certain to stack the article with critics of Kern, one of whom called Kern's comments "hate speech":
Of course, 44 Southern Baptists who buy into the green agenda received a respectful print story in the March 10 Times, widely quoting the church leaders saying things like: "when we destroy God's creation, it's similar to ripping pages from the Bible."
ABC News has a photo montage of political sex scandals, featuring both Republicans and Democrats. But a few bloggers have noted that the captions for these photos often ignore the Democratic Party affiliation of Democrats while highlighting the GOP affiliation of Republican.
Out of 13 pols featured, there were five Democrats, four of whom (80 percent) were unidentified by party. Of the eight Republicans, only two (25 percent) were unidentified by party. Jay Tea at Wizbang has the breakdown here:
Here's a rundown of the disgraced pols, with party affiliations as ABC notes:
A few days before Eliot Spitzer went down in flames, a highly-connected Barack Obama* [Update: Kilpatrick has not committed to Obama] superdelegate was mired in accusations of corruption, bid-rigging and a dead-stripper sex scandal. Usually the media love to report the downfall of party bigwigs, but not in the case of Detroit's youngest mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Much of the media downplayed the mayor's scandals and did not report his party, let alone his status as a Democratic power player who can influence the election.
Kwame, who is the son of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), is not just any mayor. He was a Democratic rising star, who spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is the superdelegate to the 2008 convention thanks to his position as Vice President of the Conference of Democratic Mayors.
But now “The First Hip Hop Mayor” is in serious trouble, with members of the city council calling for his resignation. Controversy has engulfed his two terms, and the latest bout involves a report that his wife assaulted a now-dead stripper whose shooting is still unsolved. At the same time, the mayor's longtime pal Bobby Ferguson won at least $45 million in city contracts while reportedly receiving inside information from Kilpatrick and his chief of staff.
NewsBusters posters have already given Old Media deserved grief about its reluctance to pin the Democratic Party label on Eliot Spitzer, who, as of this moment, is still governor of New York (Brent Baker on evening news show coverage; Ken Shepherd on the BBC; Shepherd on the AP).
But, as blogger Ace noted last night (warning: some profanity at Ace's link), ABC has outdone the other outlets one better.
ABC's "Political Sex Scandals Redux" popup slideshow has a series of 13 slides relating to current and past politicians. If Republicans are or were involved, the network, with one rare and minor exception, consistently applies the "R" label almost immediately. With Democrats, with one very old exception, the party label isn't there.
Incredibly, in lead stories Monday night about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer being linked to a prostitution ring, neither ABC's World News nor the NBC Nightly News verbally identified Spitzer's political party. Must mean he's a liberal Democrat -- and he is. CBS anchor Katie Couric, however, managed to squeeze in a mention of his party. Last August when news of Larry Craig's arrest broke, both ABC and NBC stressed his GOP affiliation.
On ABC, the only hints as to Spitzer's party were a few seconds of video of Spitzer beside Hillary Clinton as they walked down some steps and a (D) on screen by Spitzer's name over part of one soundbite. NBC didn't even do that.
While ABC and NBC failed to cite Spitzer's political affiliation in the four minutes or so each network dedicated to the revelations, both managed to find time to applaud his reputation and effectiveness as the Empire State's Attorney General before becoming Governor. Fill-in ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas hailed how “he gained a reputation around the country for aggressively cracking down on corporate corruption. He was elected Governor with a reputation for fighting crime.” ABC reporter Dan Harris maintained “Governor Spitzer is known as a straight arrow, an ambitious overachiever...” Substitute NBC anchor Ann Curry pointed to how Spitzer's “reputation for righteously prosecuting wrongdoing gave him the nickname Eliot Ness.”
Update (18:18 EDT): BBC has updated their article to note the Democratic party affiliation in the 3rd graf (link). Our tipster DB informs us that the BBC's North America editor Justin Webb replied to his e-mail with a promise to "try to get it changed."
The BBC initially noted Gov. Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat, in an early draft of an online news article. The mention was in the 6th paragraph. But that stuck for all of 37 minutes as NewsBusters reader DB informs us (screengrabs shown below page break):
A prostitution scandal strikes the Democrats? When Sen. David Vitter admitted he’d used the services of the "DC Madam," thanks to probing by ABC News, the major media saw harm for the entire Republican Party nationwide. Will Governor Spitzer become a national problem for the entire Democratic party? Or will the media suddenly keep the scandal as localized as they can make it?
NBC and MSNBC were especially aggressive in describing conservatives and Republicans "in crisis." The standout quote on the Vitter scandal (along with the Mark Foley internet-messages-to-pages scandal) came from MSNBC reporter David Shuster on August 29, 2007, who blurred the ethical embarrassments into Hurricane Katrina:
In the lede, the Times described McLaughlin as the “former head of the nation’s biggest municipal labor council,” without noting his political office.
Continuing the whitewash, the NYT buried and downplayed the story's juicy details. While in office, McLaughlin stole a total of $2.2 million from little leaguers, labor unions, his political club and the state of New York. He used the funds to buy cars for his wife and mistress and, bizarrely, forced union members to kill rats in his basement, dog sit and hang Christmas lights without pay. The only mention of the Dem's political career was an unclear second paragraph (all bold mine):
The Media, as Sisyphus, Unwinding its Terror TaleThere is a push by the Jurassic Press -- in two directions at once -- to frame just-so their presentation of the murder and murderers engaged in the attempted global implementation of political Islam.
One such shove was again demonstrated by the New York Times this past February 13th. The Media attempt to present these bits of human flotsam -- and their family members and friends -- in the most sympathetic of possible lights. The Times portrayal of the mourning father and grandfather of recently rubbed out Hezbollah serial assassin Imad Mugniyah -- responsible for amongst many other atrocities the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut (American death count 241) is nothing more than another attempt to humanize these inhuman creatures.
The other Press effort underway is the minimization of the evil of these acts and actors. There is even a feel to some of these reports that those delivering them almost do not wish to have to do so, but are forced to by circumstances and forces (the Internet, anyone?) beyond their control.
Key facts that would exhibit the depths of barbarism mined by these men (and women and, sadly, their bloodletting-by-proxy children) are left out.
As reported by NewsBusters earlier, Michelle Obama debased America by characterizing it as a mean nation of "cynics, sloths, and complacents". Although this sort of talk is becoming a theme for Michelle-O she wasn't the first Obama to call America mean. A similar sentiment was echoed by Barack Obama in 1995 as he tried to rally the African-American vote for his Senate run after the Million Man March.
"This doesn't suggest that the need to look inward emphasized by the march isn't important, and that these African-American tribal affinities aren't legitimate. These are mean, cruel times, exemplified by a 'lock 'em up, take no prisoners' mentality that dominates the Republican-led Congress. Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn't care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing."
"But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up. We've got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We've got communities to build." (t.t. - all emphasis mine)
At their 2001 convention, the SPJ urged “tak[ing] steps against racial profiling in [the]coverage of the war on terrorism." It reminded journalists to stopusing "inflammatory" language and condescendingly said to “help audiences understand the complexities of the events in Pennsylvania, New York City and Washington, D.C.” Story guidelines are (all bold mine):
— Cover the victims of harassment, murder and other hate crimes as thoroughly as you cover the victims of overt terrorist attacks.
— When writing about terrorism, remember to include white supremacist, radical anti-abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity.
Sorely DispleasedIt seems it all depends on who is doing the asking.
ABC News spent a good portion of last week's morning programming in deep prostration and self-analysis in response to criticism that their journalistic presentation suffered from partiality.
Could it be? Had we at the Media Research Center (MRC) -- after twenty-one years of protracted press analysis and serial and sober exposition of liberal bias in all manner of broadcast and print reporting -- finally saturated the consciousness of a member of the Network Big Three?
In the past couple of months, two journalists -- the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman and Fox News's Bill O'Reilly -- have gotten themselves in trouble for making a seemingly innocent remark that involved the word "lynch."
On Sunday, a Democrat Congresswoman from Ohio innocently accused the Obama campaign of trying to put a noose around Hillary Clinton's neck.
Think this will stoke equal if any outrage?
While you ponder, Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), a Hillary Clinton supporter, was talking to Fox News's Shepard Smith about NAFTA as a campaign issue on Sunday when she said the following (h/t and video available here courtesy our dear friend Ms Underestimated):
Joy Behar once again scolded conservatives for inflammatory rhetoric without realizing her own hypocrisy. On the February 28 edition of "The View," the panel spoke highly of the late William F. Buckley before Behar jumped in to compare the conservative icon to modern day conservatives. Behar chastised those who "name call and yell about things." Perhaps she should chastise herself.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted that "we tend to high light those on the extremes." Hasselbeck pointed to Michael Moore as an example on the left, but could have mentioned former "View" panelist and September 11 conspiracy theorist Rosie O’Donnell.
The title to this article is exactly how I'd write it if I were a political hack trying to drum up a faux controversy for use by other political hacks in the mainstream media. Which is exactly what Sam Stein of the Huffington Post did on February 12th as he broke out the yellowkid journalistic mold for a fantasy leftist hack attack on John McCain headlined in giant font, McCain Received $100,000 From Firm Of Abramoff Notoriety.
Before I comment further on the idiocy of Stein's assertions it is only fair that I mention that there is nothing in his article that isn't true just as there isn't anything untrue in mine here. Barack Obama did in fact receive over $80,000 from the same firm that Stein tries to hang John McCain with. In addition both John McCain and Barack Obama were eclipsed by the $162,450 amount received by Hillary Clinton from employees of the same jaded firm.
Joy Behar accused conservative radio host Bill Cunningham of wanting "to put out lies" about Barack Obama, yet the "View" co-host struggles with the truth about the Bush administration. The February 27 edition of "The View" discussed Cunningham’s "Barack Hussein Obama" comments and McCain’s subsequent apology.
When Sherri Shepherd claimed to "know fully the intention" of Cunningham’s repetition of Senator Obama’s middle name, Behar added "he knows, he just doesn’t care. He wants to put out the big lies, you know."
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer and ABC's George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, discussed media bias on Wednesday's show. The topic, however, wasn't liberal spin. Instead, Sawyer wondered if "the media is, in general, easier on Barack Obama than they are on [Hillary Clinton]?"
After playing a clip of a February 23 "Saturday Night Live" sketch that mocked reporters for gushing over Senator Obama, Stephanopoulos came to the aid of the wife of his former boss, "I do think, though, Senator Clinton has a point. She's being treated like the front-runner, even though she's... the underdog in this race right now." Of course, while Sawyer and Stephanopoulos worried about unfairness to the former first lady, it should be pointed out, this is the same program that in early 2007 described the Clinton/Obama race as one between "hot factor" and "fluid poetry."
Standard-free journalism on parade all day on NBC's Sunday
Forgotten But Not GoneIt was another do-as-we-say, not-as-we-do day for the National Broadcast Company this past Sabbath.
Over the weekend NBC offered up their latest versions of Tim Russert's Meet the Press and the Chris Matthews Show -- the latter being political television's answer to Jerry Springer. In them we were treated to two more glittering examples of all that is wrong with the Jurassic Press.
That being the woeful lack of journalistic ethics demonstrated by those at the heights of the media mountain, and the utter shamelessness they and their colleagues exhibit upon their being outed as amoral hacks.
Yesterday I blogged about photo selection bias on Newsweek.com's front page. The subjects in comparison were Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and newly-minted Cuban dictator Raul Castro. McCain makes another unflattering photographic appearance on the Newsweek home page today, but it's Barack Obama who gets the comparatively better image. The Democratic nomination frontrunner is shown in a Getty Images photo holding a young child. The headline caption reads, "First Woman President? Obama's campaign bends gender conventions."
On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, former CBS News correspondent and current FNC analyst Bernard Goldberg pointed out the New York Times has historically had a double standard of reporting allegations of sex scandals by Republicans while downplaying or delaying reports of sex scandals by Bill Clinton. Before Bill O'Reilly clarified that while the Times did cover Gennifer Flowers, but "years and years and years after the fact," Goldberg complained: "The New York Times showed virtually no interest in Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers. It showed absolutely no front page interest in allegations by a reputable businesswoman named Juanita Broaddrick, who said that, when Bill Clinton was attorney general of Arkansas, he raped her. ...
Back on August 28 we posted the sad story of the death of a motorcycle policeman who was killed while in service as a motorcade escort for president George W. Bush. What brought the story to our attention was the shocking way that Time Magazine reported the story. With a headline that blared "Bush Motorcade Kills Cop," Time made it appear that the officer died as a result of... well, President Bush.
Well, today, we have a similar story to report. A motorcycle policeman was killed today while in service as a motorcade escort for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The previous incident was headlined as if Bush was responsible for the unfortunate death, but today's Time headline was not so harsh in its tone when a Clinton was involved. "Officer Killed Escorting Clinton," is how Time magazine reported this incident.
The Left is positively gleeful at news that John McCainmay have had a "close bond" with lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. Apparently, anonymous claims that people close to the campaign were "concerned" is all it takes to justify a major story in the New York Times. And exuberant blogging from the Leftosphere.
Fortunately, one Lefty blogger -- Greg Sargent -- stopped to think about what they were making a fuss about...
Let's try a little experiment. Let's take the meat of the big New York Times story and substitute the words "Dem Presidential Hopeful" for "John McCain" [...] If these words had appeared on the front page of The New York Times, wouldn't we all be yelling and stamping our feet about "panty sniffing" and condemning the use of anonymous sources who suggest a possible affair that may or may not have happened and wasn't directly alleged by anyone?
"Chavez inspires left but [is] no icon," insists the headline for a February 21 story by Reuters reporter Frank Jack Daniel. Daniel took time to examine what role Chavez could play in rallying Latin American leftists now that the Fidel Castro has kindly retired to let little hermano Raul take the wheel for a while indefinitely.
Daniel practically makes Chavez sound like the Barack Obama of Latin American Marxism: nice image, but still needs more experience:
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's red beret-wearing President Hugo Chavez has inspired a new generation of Latin American leftists but has a ways to go to achieve the heroic status awarded to his iconic friend Fidel Castro.
At least when the National Enquirer prints unsubstantiated garbage, they go with new stories, MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell argued today on the Fox News Channel. Bozell was referring to the New York Times publishing a front page article on a 10-year old rumor regarding presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and lobbyist Vicki Iseman.