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.”
In the 3 pm hour, in the first blush of the prostitution revelations against liberal Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, MSNBC’s experts quickly described the scandal as a nothing-burger. Alan Dershowitz attacked America for being a "pandering society and hypocritical society," since this wouldn’t even make the back pages of a newspaper in sophisticated Europe. "Big deal, married man goes to prostitute!" Dershowitz also blamed "men" (as a group) for thinking with their private parts. Tucker Carlson agreed with that line, and said that Spitzer is sleazy, but this is "one of the least sleazy things he’s done."
About 13 minutes into the hour, Contessa Brewer brought on Dershowitz for his reaction, explaining at one point that Dershowitz taught Spitzer at Harvard. He sounded quivering and emotional:
I have two reactions. One, I feel terrible for Eliot and his family. But I feel that this is a America-only story that we have to put in perspective. You know, big deal, married man goes to prostitute! In Europe, this wouldn't even make the back pages of the newspaper. It's a uniquely American story. We’re a uniquely, you know, pandering society and hypocritical society, when it comes to sex.
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:
The last time I wrote about Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, I described her as "ever-smiling." Scratch that. The Dem congresswoman from Ohio and Hillary co-chair just jabbed at MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell during a discussion of who is responsible for circulating the story about the Rezko trial: the media or the Clinton campaign.
At one point, things got heated enough for Tubbs Jones to tell O'Donnell "you know what? I'm enjoying talking to you but you can't talk on top of me in order for me to answer your question."
The Times held a "Times Talks" event Tuesday night at TheTimesCenter (all one word), part of the new New York Times Building now dominating 40th and 41st Street in Midtown Manhattan like a behemoth power station. "Inside the News: The Issues & The Elections: Where Do the Candidates Stand?" was advertised as a sell-out, but there were at least 70 empty seats in the 373-seat auditorium.
From a low stage, Times journalists Richard Berke, Elisabeth Bumiller, Michael Gordon, David Leonhardt and Robin Toner took turns outlining the placement on the ideological spectrum of Obama and Clinton's various policies and advisors (McCain was often ignored). A bug kept zapping at the speakers in turn, to the amusement of the audience.
Around the 30-minute mark, moderator and Times Assistant Managing Editor (the title understates his influence) Richard Berke asked for a show of hands to measure support for the candidates. My very rough count in the darkened auditorium: 140 Obama supporters, 120 Clinton supporters, 50 independents and maybe half a dozen McCain supporters. Berke's follow-up call for Huckabee supporters drew derisive laughter.
When Christopher Hitchens came on today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough began by inviting him to comment on "last night's" results. Quipped the famously hard-living Hitchens: "I'm still thinking of it as this morning's result. I hope it doesn't show." Unfortunately for Christopher, it did. See screencap.
But whatever price Hitchens was paying for indulgences of the night before did nothing to blunt his acerbic wit. The quondam Englishman turned naturalized American offered acid observations about both Dem contenders. Hillary was first in his sights. He described as "slightly sinister" her listing during last night's victory speech of Florida and Michigan among her primary wins, since by DNC rules those contests counted for nothing. By his lights, her inclusion of the two states portends nasty arm-twisting to come.
Then there was this: "Anyone who like me when they think about the Clintons thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be."
Palpably stung by Ken Blackwell's observation that Republicans had lost their way by running like Reagan but governing like Carter, Chris Matthews -- former speechwriter to the president from Plains -- cracked back by playing the Abramoff card and claiming Republicans are more corrupt than Dems.
Blackwell, the impressive former Secretary of State of Ohio and past candidate for Buckeye state governor, was Matthews' guest during this evening's MSNBC election coverage. Blackwell was discussing what it would take for Republicans to win in 2008.
KEN BLACKWELL: My view is this, Chris, that we got off track. We started to campaign like Ronald Reagan and at times govern like Jimmy Carter. And as a consequence, people, people really questioned whether or not we were true to our message . . .
Ken's comment clearly cut Chris to the quick. He tried to parry.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I just don't think Jack Abramoff worked for the Carter administration, Ken, did he?
Jury selection began Monday in Chicago in the trial of Syrian-born businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a major supporter of Barack Obama. Two days before the 2006 elections in which Democrats won by running against a "culture of corruption," Chicago newspapers revealed that Obama purchased a home in the summer of 2005 for $1.6 million, but to complete the deal, he would need to buy an adjoining parcel for $625,000. Instead, Mrs. Rezko bought the parcel, and they closed on the properties on the same day. Rezko was already under federal investigation for kickback schemes.
To a political opponent, this might resemble a lobbyist’s sweetheart deal like the one that started Rep. Duke Cunningham’s political decline, where a lobbyist paid $700,000 more for Cunningham’s home than his own sale price months later. But the national media are anything but opponents of Obama’s. An MRC analysis shows that despite Obama’s high national profile as a Democratic symbol of hope, network TV news and the national news magazines have done a dreadful job of telling the Rezko story, and have struggled not to repeat it.
Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft shares the news of another possible election year meltdown at CBS News.
"60 Minutes" recently aired the claim that former Alabama governor Don Siegelman went to jail not for corruption, but because he belong to the wrong political party, and that the investigations that landed him in jail for bribery were politically motivated.
One of the most explosive claims made was that Karl Rove was involved in an attempt to entrap Siegelman:
Liberal hack CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen is at it again, resharpening his knives for former Bush adviser Karl Rove. In a February 26 Couric & Co. blog post at CBSNews.com, Cohen pointed back to Sunday's "60 Minutes" story alleging malfeasance on Rove's part in urging the federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D).
Yet for a man trained in the law and supposedly concerned with the discovery of truth in open court, Cohen erroneously smeared Rove with responsibility for the Valerie Plame leak:
Former White House advisor Karl Rove has made a career out of “smearing” his political opponents. Just ask Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. Indeed, a litany of Rove’s targets would fill up the rest of the column. So why is this smear different from all other smears?
Former Newark, New Jersey Mayor Sharpe James has been brought up on charges of corruption and the AP, The New York Times and several other outlets have all been reporting that jury selection for the event is underway this week. These news outlets dutifully reported the charges against James, reported his long political career, some even reported how popular he was in office. Yet, not one of them remembered to mention he was a Democrat. So, today's episode of "Democrat or Not?" leaves us right back where we usually are... with a story of corruption of a public official where his Democratic party affiliation is somehow not "relevant" to the story.
In two versions of the story the Associated press seems not to notice that Sharpe James is a Democrat (here and here).
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased upcoming coverage of a photo of Barack Obama in Somalian dress: "Heading into the final debate tonight. Obama, the target of a photographic smear." Compare that to how Smith introduced a New York Times hit piece against John McCain last week: "This bombshell report that Republican front-runner John McCain may have had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist who was a visitor to his office and traveled with him on a client's corporate jet."
Later on Tuesday’s segment, reporter Jim Axelrod described the Obama campaign’s reaction to the photo: "His campaign says Clinton staffers put it out and that that's shameful." Smith then asked Axelrod about the photo:
SMITH: Jim here's the thing though, because it ends up on the front page of so many papers all around the country. Here is this morning's New York Daily News. It's on the Post too. Why is the Obama campaign so upset about the picture?
And conservative blogs and television commentators accuse Mr. Obama of all manner of unpatriotic derelictions....Mr. McCain, for his part, lobbed a few shots over the weekend into the Democratic Party ranks.
If either Democrat withdrew troops from Iraq as proposed, he said in a speech Saturday night before the Republican Governors Association in Washington, Al Qaeda would "celebrate to the world that they have defeated the United States of America."
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley interviewed former Alabama Republican attorney, Jill Simpson, about a supposed effort to smear the former Democratic governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman: "Now this woman tells us there was a covert campaign to ruin the governor, a campaign that she says involved Karl Rove, at the time the president's top political advisor." In a story that violated more journalistic ethics than last week’s New York Times hit piece on John McCain, Pelley went on to ask Simpson: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...In a compromising sexual position with one of his aides." Simpson responded: "Yes. If I could."
Siegelman, a Democrat who was governor of Alabama from 1998-2002, is currently in federal prison after being convicted of bribery in 2006. Simpson claimed that this conviction was part of a grand conspiracy led by Rove. Pelley introduced the story this way:
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. ...
The fallout continues from yesterday's New York Times hit piece on John McCain. The paper itself doesn't seem eager to put up a fight as network news broadcasts, liberal bloggers, journalism professors, and the general public are questioning the Times's journalistic standards.
Yesterday's inflammatory story, which used anonymous sources to forward nine-year-old allegations from his first presidential run suggesting an improper relationship by John McCain with a female telecommunications lobbyist, received prominent front-page placement; today's follow-up on McCain's press conference was relegated to page 20 -- Elisabeth Bumiller's "McCain Disputes That Aides Warned Him About Ties to Lobbyist."
From Elisabeth Bumiller's New York Times follow-up article of today [emphasis added]:
Later in the day, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers directed strong criticism at The Times in what appeared to be a deliberate campaign strategy to wage a war with the newspaper. Mr. McCain is deeply distrusted by conservatives on several issues, not least because of his rapport with the news media, but he could find common ground with them in attacking a newspaper that many conservatives revile as a left-wing publication.
Let me get this straight. The Times has run an article relying on anonymous, disgruntled former associates as sources, dredging up old stories and making base accusations with no hard evidence in support. But it's McCain who's waging war?
Guilt by association, that's the trick that the AP just pulled on the wife of GOP presidential candidate John McCain. In a story about the non-story du jour, AP writer Libby Quaid has placed Cindy McCain in with jilted political wives of the likes of Hillary Clinton, Suzanne Craig, Dina McGreevey, and Carlita Kilpatrick. They even reached back into the graveyard of political careers and dug up Lee Hart, wife of Donna Rice's paramour Gary Hart.
The AP got all weepy eyed over how Cindy McCain "did not hesitate" to step forward to take "her place in the history of political wives who stood by their men in the face of rumored or alleged marital infidelity." The AP then states her first lines as "Well, obviously I'm disappointed." AP thinks this is interesting because, "A coterie of wives has confronted the public pain of such an accusation. Smaller still is the band who, like Cindy McCain, have spoken out."
As the AP begins the story, you'd think that John McCain is exactly the same as Bill Clinton or Gary Hart... in other words guilty of screwin' around on his wife. Even the way they quote Cindy McCain could be taken as that she is "disappointed" in her husband if the reader stops there!
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased upcoming coverage of accusations of John McCain having an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman: "And Republican front-runner John McCain blasted on the front pages of The New York Times...not exactly the coverage you may be looking for if you're running for president." Later, Smith introduced the segment by exclaiming: "This bombshell report that Republican front-runner John McCain may have had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist who was a visitor to his office and traveled with him on a client's corporate jet."
In a following report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, the New York Times article was quoted:
According to The Times, the aides warned him "he was risking his campaign and career" because Iseman's firm had telecom clients with business before his Senate committee. They say quote, "McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Iseman."
Appearing on Thursday's 1pm hour of MSNBC News Live, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews couldn't resist taking a few swipes at Rush Limbaugh. After anchor Peter Alexander played a clip of the conservative talk show host discussing the New York Times story on Senator John McCain, Matthews irritably claimed, "Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant here. Irrelevant. He doesn't know anything more than what he read in the New York Times."
The radio clip, which was from Thursday's edition of Limbaugh's program, featured the host urging the GOP presidential candidate to learn a lesson from the front-page New York Times story speculating about a improper relationship with a D.C. lobbyist. Matthews's apparent annoyance at Limbaugh might have something to do with being mentioned in the clip. At one point during the monologue, Limbaugh asserted, "[McCain] has thought Chris Matthews and these other people in the drive-by media are his friends. They aren't."
Discussing the recent New York Times smear of John McCain and alleged inappropriate relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, "View" co-host Joy Behar, who floated conspiracy theories in the past, floated another one today.
"Is there any possibility that- I'm just throwing this out, and Bill O'Reilly will call me a 'pinhead' for this. But is there any possibility that the right wing of the party, the real conservative Limbaugh, Huckabee, that group, planted this article? Like they're behind it? Because they're too trying to cut his legs off."
With the New York Times smear on likely Republican nominee John McCain and his alleged inappropriate relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron called in to add his take. Cameron revealed on the February 21 edition of "Fox and Friends," that Fox News came across these rumors last fall. Cameron stated that they were "unable to substantiate any of it."
In regards to the alleged affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Cameron asserted that they "were able to find precisely nobody who would go on the record or even suggest off the record that there was truth to the suggestion that there had been any sort of an inappropriate personal relationship."
The New York Times's John McCain "bombshell" story, hinted at since December, was unloaded on Thursday's front-page -- and promptly fizzled out among conservatives and liberals alike, who dismissed the story from a four-person team as a strained mix of sex innuendo and old news (The Keating Five?).
It's no wonder if you take a look. This story is all hype and no substance:
Here is a story that is fairly recent and it is perfect for our ongoing game of "Democrat or Not." One Susan Freeman, a secretary in the office of North Carolina's Attorney General has been hauled in after a routine traffic stop by police in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She wasn't driving on an expired license, didn't even have a broken tail light. But she did have $150,000 in illegal drugs -- 31 pounds of marijuana and one and a half pounds of cocaine -- hidden in her car.
So far, I've seen two reports about this incident, both from TV websites. NBC 17 from Raleigh/Durham gives us an account and so does News9 of Oklahoma City. Both stories mention that this Susan Freeman works in the NC Attorney General's office, but neither name that politician or his party.
You know, if the Associated Press ever straightens up and starts reporting the news like a truly unbiased news agency it would ruin our little game of "Democrat or Not?" Fortunately for us, it doesn't seem like the AP is going to go legitimate any time soon and our little game can go on ad infinitum. Today our game is being hosted in the Tennessee House of Representatives where State Representative Bob Briley pleaded guilty to a DUI from last September.
State Rep. Rob Briley of Nashville has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and property damage prior to leading authorities on a high-speed chase last September... Authorities said he struck the rear of a truck and then left the scene.
Imagine this! We get to play our favorite game twice in the same day! Yes, it's time once again for "Democrats or Not," where we read an MSM story about corruption in politics and try to determine which party the perp is from... because the MSM won't tell us -- usually, that is.
This is a very special edition of "Democrats or Not," because this time we don't have to guess which party the violator in question is from. Amazingly, unexpectedly, we have finally found a story where the AP has found the temerity to list the perp's party affiliation. Yes, we can thank the AP for their bravery in, "Judge Grills E-Mail-Deleting Texas DA."
Well, now Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) is facing mounting pressure to resign for pretty much the same thing: lying about sex under oath in a legal proceeding. While I'm personally curious whether any Democrats, particularly those supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president will come forward and defend Kilpatrick -- you know, urging him to stay in office and fight to "work for the people of Detroit" -- the more immediate concern here at NewsBusters is, are the media noting or ignoring Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation?
The answer so far? No, at least not the Associated Press. Reporter Corey Williams failed to mention Kilpatrick's party affiliation, although Williams did note Kilpatrick faces similar legal problems as Clinton:
In an usually tough interview with Barack Obama on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith asked the Illinois Senator about a financial scandal involving Tony Rezko, that Hillary Clinton brought up during Monday’s Democratic debate on CNN: "This is a guy that's facing federal charges of fraud and influence peddling next month. What is your real relationship with Tony Rezko?"
While such tough questioning of presidential candidates is certainly appropriate, one wonders why Harry Smith never asked Hillary Clinton about her involvement with convicted felon, Norman Hsu, who made significant financial contributions to the Clinton campaign. On September 18 of last year, while Clinton was asked about the Hsu scandal by co-host Matt Lauer on NBC’s "Today," Smith was busy touting her health care plan on CBS, ignoring Hsu completely:
Ten years after the Lewinsky scandal broke, Barbara Walters is still acting as a spokeswoman for Bill Clinton’s former mistress. On the January 21 episode, Walters scolded fellow "View" panelist Joy Behar for incorporating Monica Lewinsky jokes into her comic routine, opining "I don’t think one should joke about it."
The veteran journalist, who landed the first interview with Lewinsky, hyped her recent master’s degree and claimed she is having difficulties finding a job. Elisabeth Hasselbeck felt "that’s what happens when you make decisions like that, that affect your future." Whoopi Goldberg ended the segment adding that women should support Lewinsky because she’s a woman. After the commercial break, Hasselbeck replied that she thinks " about supporting the person, you know, and taking gender out of it."