On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley provided an update for a story done in February about former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, who was convicted of bribery in 2006: "A federal court has released former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman from prison six weeks after our story...Siegelman says his prosecution was political, orchestrated in the White House."
The original "60 Minutes" story, which Pelley credits for Seigelman’s release, was aired on February 24 and claimed that not only was Sigelman’s prosecution politically motivated, but that it was done at the direct order of White House advisor Karl Rove. During that story, Pelley talked to Republican Alabama attorney, Jill Simpson, and asked: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...in a compromising sexual position with one of his aides?"
During Sunday’s update on the story, Pelley interviewed Siegelman:
PELLEY: Siegelman was once the most successful Democrat in Alabama. He claims that his prosecution by the US Department of Justice was influenced by the president's former political adviser, Karl Rove.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric did a segment on why politicians lie and suggested completely false statements made by Hillary Clinton, about sniper fire in Bosnia, and Barack Obama, about how his parents met, were really no different from this statement from John McCain: "It's called Al Qaeda in Iraq. And, my friends, they wouldn't... if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they'd be taking a country." Couric prefaced the quote by claiming: "John McCain's rhetoric doesn't always pass the smell test, either."
The McCain quote was followed by liberal Time Magazine columnist, Joe Klein, explaining that: "John McCain doesn't need to exaggerate his biography. It's a spectacular biography. But he does exaggerate the threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is a small Sunni group in a majority Shiite country. He says they could take over if we leave. That's an exaggeration." Just because Klein disagrees with McCain’s argument does not make it an exaggeration. Also, Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party was Sunni.
Another Empire State Democrat appears ensnared in a juicy political scandal involving misappropriated money and political patronage.
An article in the April 3 New York Post reports that New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office has been hoarding millions of dollars in taxpayer money. The money was allocated to fake organizations so that it could be saved and used later for political favors.
The Post noted that the money constituted what essentially turned out to be a “slush fund” for the Speaker as it was later used at Quinn's discretion whether it be to reward loyal groups or to provide funding for projects of favored council members.
The Post's Frankie Edozien should be congratulated for the exclusive, but one thing is missing from the story: Quinn’s political party affiliation. Although the newspaper reported that this “bogus bookkeeping” is subject to federal as well as city investigations, not once did the New York Post note that Quinn is a Democrat. NewsBusters appreciates good investigative reporting, but it is important to be consistent in labeling political party affiliation.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D-Ill.) name has cropped up quite a few times in the ongoing trial of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) benefactor Tony Rezko. Yet in their latest coverage, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times left out Blagojevich's party affiliation. The Sun-Times, however, did take note of the Republican party affiliation of another politico caught up in the maelstrom, William Cellini (see screencap at right, photos via AP/Sun-Times).
The caption for a photo montage accompanying the April 3 article "Levine: Blagojevich knew", reads, "Clockwise from left: Gov. Rod Blagojevich; Tony Rezko; Stuart Levine;Chicago businessman-turned-Hollywood producer Tom Rosenberg; longtime Illinois Republican Party power William Cellini."
Tribune staffers Bob Secter and Jeff Coen also covered the development in a story filed shortly after midnight Eastern time on April 3.
A federal judge on April 1 ordered Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a veteran liberal legislator and Saddam Hussein stooge, to pay Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) $1 million for an illegally-taped 1996 phone conversation. Even the Associated Press, which we've taken to task numerous times for dropping party labels, noted McDermott's party affiliation. Not so the Seattle Times, McDermott's hometown paper:
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., says Congressman Jim McDermott owes an Ohio congressman $1 million for leaking an illegally taped phone call to the media.
Today's decision may end the dispute that began in 1996 when John Boehner (BAY'-ner) was taped talking about an ethics case involving Newt Gingrich. The tape reached McDermott who gave it two newspapers. He says it's a free speech issue.
Boehner sued and the case has been in the courts for a decade. A federal court ruled McDermott had no right to release the call.
Update at bottom of post: Williams responds (18:24 EDT)
I have to hand it to the AP this time. They actually noted the political party affiliation of another Democrat in legal hot water. So did CNN.com and Reuters.
But for some reason, MSNBC's Pete Williams left out the party affiliation of Louisiana's Rep. William Jefferson (D) in this March 31 item at the First Read blog:
In something of a surprise, the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal involving the FBI's unprecedented search of the Capitol Hill offices of Congressman William Jefferson.
A federal appeals court ruled that the FBI wrongly used its own agents look through the material seized to determine what might be covered by congressional privilege. This is a considerable victory for Jefferson, largely validating his objections to the search and giving him certain bragging rights. But prosecutors claim they have sufficient evidence independent of the search. The cash in his freezer, for example, was found well before Jefferson's offices were searched.
On Monday night, the CBS Evening News failed to identify Kwame Kilpatrick as a Democrat in reporting criminal charges filed against the Detroit Mayor, but on Friday night the same anchor, Harry Smith, used the very first word, of his introduction to a story on another politician in criminal trouble, to name the party:
Republican Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona goes on trial next month, charged with using his office to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. He denies breaking any laws, but the indictment spells out a string of alleged dirty deals.
A little under two years ago, then-CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer avoided the party affiliation of a Democratic Congressman in introducing a Monday, May 22, 2006 story:
The government says FBI agents videotaped Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson taking $100,000 in cash from an informant and later found $90,000 in his home freezer. But Jefferson said today he will not resign from Congress and he said he thought it inappropriate for the FBI to search his Capitol office this weekend. To the surprise of some, the Senate Republican leader said he too has concerns about the search.
NB’s Ken Shepherd reported yesterday that AP’s early story on the corruption indictment of Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila (D) lacked a party label (and the governor’s status as an Obama superdelegate), although it appears later updates fixed the missing party label. Friday’s Washington Post put the scandal on Page One, but reporters Carrie Johnson and Matthew Mosk mentioned the scandal’s ties to John McCain through adviser Charlie Black (in paragraph 6) before mentioning the governor’s political party and Obama endorsement (in paragraph 12).
The indictment alleges that Gov. Acevedo Vila solicited secret and improper contributions and enriched himself with fancy suits and free vacations. At least the McCain ties weren't put on the front page. The story turned inside at paragraph 4, and looked like this:
The interim U.S. attorney who brought the charges, Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, said Acevedo Vila corrupted his office, lied to tax authorities and undermined "the essence of our representative form of government."
The Associated Press, reporting the indictment of Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila (pictured at right via AFP/Getty Images file photo) failed to note Vila is a Democrat, let alone that he is an Obama superdelegate.
But Vila's party affiliation is hardly a state secret. Indeed, ABC's Jake Tapper noted the Obama connection on his Political Punch blog this morning:
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith discussed a question being asked of Chelsea Clinton about Monica Lewinsky on the campaign trail with Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn, who was baffled by the media’s refusal to ask Chelsea tough questions: "Frankly, in all of my years of journalism, I have never seen the press lie down like this before. This is -- this is not what the American public thinks of as the critical and sort of -- killing, marauding, press corps – " Smith responded by admitting that: "Yeah, we're not exactly -- we're not exactly watchdogs here." [Audio available here]
Those comments were sparked by Smith asking Quinn: "As a press, though, we have basically, you know, said, 'okay, if those are the rules, you know, that's fine.' Have we sort of -- you know, have we laid down?"
Prior to talking to Quinn, Smith interviewed the Butler University college student, Evan Strange, who asked Chelsea the question at a campaign forum on campus. Strange, as it turns out, is a Clinton supporter:
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Khym Worthy, the prosecutor in the perjury case against Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and asked about sexually explicit text messages that proved Kilpatrick lied under oath about having an affair: "We know that in these thousands of text messages they talk about being madly in love and dreaming of spending days making love. But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
Worthy explained that there was vast amounts of other evidence in addition to the text messages and that there were other crimes involved. Rodriguez was incredulous: "Do you really believe someone would go so far to cover up an affair?"
Rodriguez also went on to portray Kilpatrick as the victim of selective prosecution when she asked Worthy: "And so what -- I mean, yesterday you spent 24 minutes when you made this announcement scolding the Mayor for lying. He faces 15 years in prison for perjury alone. Are you trying to make an example?"
Yesterday NewsBusters contributor and MRC News Analysis Division intern Lyndsi Thomas noted the Chicago Tribune leaving out the Democratic Party affiliations of two politicians tied up in the Tony Rezko trial: Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Alderman Richard Mell, the governor's father-in-law.
Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" devoted four segments to Obama’s speech on race and the Jeremiah Wright controversy and that coverage began with a proclamation by co-host Maggie Rodriguez that: "It's being called a defining cultural moment in America. Barack Obama speaks about America's racial stalemate, a moving moment, a political risk." Rodriguez went on to tease upcoming coverage of the speech by again emphasizing its "historic" nature: "It was without question a defining moment in American political history. But for an African-American presidential candidate who'd played down race in his campaign, this was a huge gamble politically."
The first of the show’s four segments featured a report by correspondent Byron Pitts, who observed: "If critics hoped Senator Barack Obama would disown his controversial pastor, they were disappointed." After speaking of Obama’s "disappointed critics," Pitts went on to praise Obama’s unifying message and give some political advice:
But beyond condemning his minister's words, Obama tried bridging the racial divide, acknowledging years of bitterness and anger amongst blacks and whites...While Obama invoked the tone of a preacher, it was a politician speaking. With a slip in the polls, the Illinois Senator needs to take the nation's attention off race and back on jobs, health care, and the war in Iraq.
Following Monday’s sanitized coverage of the controversial comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show" continued to gloss over the most inflammatory of Wright’s comments, spending over 6 minutes on Obama’s upcoming speech on the issue while devoting only 16 seconds of video to Wright’s more mild statements. Following this video, co-host Russ Mitchell asked left-wing commentator Nancy Giles: "How careful does he [Obama] have to be today not to denounce Jeremiah Wright and make some black voters angry?"
The rest of the analysis with Giles, who was ‘balanced’ with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, was entirely about political strategy, not about Wright’s statements. Mitchell asked Trippi about the possibility of race affecting Obama’s appeal: "Joe Trippi, sticking with the risk factor for a second. There are folks out there who are going to look at Barack Obama, who's made no secret of the fact that he's black of course...And look at this speech and say 'you know what honey, I just realized something today, he brought up race. Barack Obama is black.' How risky is that in this speech?"
As the ongoing Tony Rezko trial yields more news of corruption, once again the mainstream media aren't identifying the party affiliation of the Democratic perpetrators. This time, the culprit is the Chicago Tribune in an article regarding a witness testimony that Alderman Richard Mell, father-in-law of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, hoped to receive kickbacks from an insider deal at a state pension fund. The article goes on to describe this new information along with the details of the deal for which Mell hoped.
The Tribune also noted that this finding adds to the "Mell-Blagojevich relationship that has devolved to downright dysfunctional in recent years."
Yet despite running a thirty paragraph article over two pages, the Tribune failed to recognize either Mell or Blagojevich are Democrats.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," a total of over 13 minutes of coverage was given to the controversy involving comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but only 16 seconds was given to play video of Wright’s comments, video which did not include some of the Reverend’s most shocking comments that September 11 was caused by U.S. foreign policy or that the AIDS virus was part of a government plot against the black community.
The coverage began with a report from CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds, who suggested the media was paying too much attention to the story: "For days now the news media have recycled Reverend Wright's sermons or at least their most inflammatory parts." That was followed by a relatively mild 3 second clip of Wright declaring: "Not God bless America! God damn America!" Reynolds went on to explain that: "Obama has denounced that and other anti-American statements, though the Senator says he never heard such comments before from the man who was his spiritual mentor." Reynolds never mentioned what those other "anti-American statements" were.
Far be it from NB to suggest any correlation between liberal political orientation and a propensity for prostitution. But in the wake of the Spitzer scandal, the New York Times has run an article profiling three call girls, and we couldn't help but look for telltale signs of their politics. There were no particular hints regarding one of the ladies. But as for the other two . . . well, let's say it's unlikely they'll be turning up anytime soon as contributing editors at NewsBusters.
Ava Xi’an is the apparently apolitical pro. She claims to have gotten into the business to pay for a heart bypass operation for her father . . . who doesn't have health insurance. Bush made her do it, you might say.
As for the other two, Sally Anderson is "an unapologetic feminist" who was "raised in a fancy New Jersey suburb with what she described as 'very progressive parents.'” Oh, and she's planning to leave the profession "to study social work in graduate school." I'd say that wraps it up.
Many in the newsmedia are reacting with quite restraint to the revelations of comments by Obam's racist "spiritual mentor," Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. Imagine if this were a Republican politician linked to such outrageous talk and you'll realize how the MSM has been studiously underplaying this controversy. A benefit of the doubt seems to be the rule of thumb for how the media is treating Obama, a benefit that would be denied a GOP candidate.
But, as ABC's Jake Tapper asked concerning Obama's knowledge of Wright's racist rants: What did Obama know and when did he know it? In this posting Tapper finds that Obama was distancing himself from Wright a year ago causing the question to be raised if Obama long ago wondered if Wright would be a liability? But, there is video of Obama lovingly introducing Wright even after that proving not only that Obama is very, very close to Rev. Wright, but also that he was not distancing himself from the man at all.
On October 22, 2005, my colleague Brent Baker reported Al Franken's disturbing joke to "Late Show" host David Letterman concerning Scooter Libby and Karl Rove being executed for their involvement in the Valerie Plame Wilson affair.
Almost two and a half years later, during an interview on CNN's "American Morning" Friday, Kiran Chetry asked the comedian turned Democrat senate candidate about this exchange.
When Franken had the gall to declare, "I didn't even say that in a joking manner," Chetry challenged him in a way that all media members should whenever a politician on either side of the aisle is so obviously disingenuous (video available here, h/t NBer Woody Boyd):
On Monday, the same morning that the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal broke, Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee posted an e-mail from the Associated Press which explained the newswire's policy against blogs using AP photos. The long and short of it: unless you have a license from AP, you're violating copyright to use an AP photo.
But today, blogger Jules Crittenden informed me, the AP is defending its policy of lifting from her MySpace page copyrighted photos of Spitzer call girl Ashley Alexandra Dupre:
Instead of acting as an impartial journalist who would express interest in probing why Barack Obama may say he disagrees with the incendiary anti-U.S. left-wing rants from his minister while he has remained close to him, Friday afternoon on MSNBC Norah O'Donnell fretted about how “Rush Limbaugh went nuts today on his program about this story” and wondered: “How do we get away from this?” Guest Michael Crowley of The New Republic assured her: “I don't think this reflects anything on what Barack Obama believes.”At about 3:55 PM EDT, MSNBC played this clip of a screaming Wright:
We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Nagasaki! And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. [edit jump] We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yard.
O'Donnell then rued:
I don't even know how these candidates can talk about policy because it seems like every day someone's asking them to apologize for the comments of their supporters. I mean, Rush Limbaugh went nuts today on his program about this story. John McCain is talking about this particular story. How do we get away from this?
Like Colored and MindedThis is past a bit ridiculous, is it not?
Agence France-Presse (AFP) yesterday disseminated to its client list a headline and photograph caption labeling sex scandalized and self-ousted New York Governor Eliot Spitzer an (R), when he is in fact a (D) -- emocrat.
They then responded -- to correspondence on the subject of their error and the error itself -- rather meekly.
AFP having only corrected their copy -- leaving myriad errors strewn throughout the print and web worlds -- left wide open the possibility that others would follow their poor suit.
Not Minding Their Ps & QsWe on Thursday brought you the Agence France-Presse (AFP)'s ludicrous labeling of self-ousted New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as an (R). This after a week's worth of the Gong Show Media's failure or utter refusal to ascribe any Party affiliation to the man.
Well, we have heard word from the horse's ... mouth.
DScott, an intrepid NewsBusters participant, contacted AFPto point out their inanity. And in the wee small hours of Friday morning -- they wrote back.
DScott was generous enough to share it with us, and we now, in turn, share it with you:
Contemplating the SwitchThose of us who have been participating in the Eliot Spitzer Media Waiting Game -- halting our respitory activity in anticipation of the Jurassic Press actually ascribing Party affiliation to the recently resigned Big Apple Governor -- can finally breathe easy.
The Agence-France Presse and Yahoo! have teamed up to finally do what's right.
Everyone is a whore according to "View" panelist Joy Behar. Discussing the identity of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s call girl, Ashley Alexandra Dupre, Behar appeared sympathetic and portrayed the woman as a victim. Later in the show, in conversing about former "American Idol" contestant David Hernandez’s alleged background as a stripper, Behar hypothesized that "everybody is a whore, a little bit."
Crackpot theories are not new to daytime personality. Behar previously suggested that the saints of the past would be mental patients today. Joy Behar continued that "every time you say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no,’ you’re whoring yourself." Whoopi Goldberg opined "it depends what you think whoring is. You know, what’s whoring to one person is not whoring to another."
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.
Maybe it takes one to know one, but CNN is nonetheless a little red in the face over the gaffe of turning to a man with a troubled past in "adult entertainment" -- so to speak -- as an analyst for the Elliot Spitzer prostitution story. CNN has apologized for offering up as an analyst one Kendall Coffey, a fellow who had to resign as a U.S. attorney over an incident in 1996 when he attacked a topless dancer during a visit to an adult club.
When it came to getting informed comment Tuesday on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's involvement in a sex scandal, CNN got a real expert -- with more experience in the field than he let on. Billing him only as "a former U.S. attorney," without any reference to how he achieved his former-ness, the network interviewed Miami's Kendall Coffey, who had to resign the job in 1996 after biting a dancer during the process of running up a $900 bill at a strip club.
Coffey told CNN that Spitzer should find major trouble with this incident, especially when money changed hands. After all, Coffey ought to know.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez did a segment on "why powerful men cheat," in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal, and talked to guests Dr. Sari Locker, a sex expert, and Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn, who said of Spitzer’s wife as well as other wives of cheating politician husbands: "The wife is always standing there while the husband is -- is apologizing. And -- I look at those women, and I think they might as well be in Perda, they might as well be Taliban women with scarves over their heads standing there because not once has any woman ever said, this is not acceptable."
Dr. Locker added to the discussion by condemning Spitzer and demanding his wife speak out:
And I'll tell you, I want it to stop because the fact is, in his inauguration speech, Governor Spitzer said that he wants to transform this government into something that is as ethical and wise as all of New York. And as a New Yorker, I'm appalled. And as a woman, though, I want to see his wife also say that she's appalled. So, I think it's time for women to really stop letting this happen.
Quinn later went to explain that some wives of politicians remain silent to hold on to political power, citing one example in particular:
QUINN: ...you know, you have to look at the motivations that the wives -- I mean, a lot of these wives' power is derivative. I mean, for instance, Hillary Clinton would not be running for president if her husband had not been running for president.