ABC, CBS Punt on Democratic Party ID of Mayor Being Sued For Sexual Harassment

On Tuesday, neither ABC's Good Morning America nor CBS This Morning mentioned San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's Democratic affiliation, as they reported on the new sexual harassment lawsuit against the former congressman. The CBS morning show devoted a full report to the latest development in the sex scandal, while the ABC broadcast only devoted a news brief to the story.

NBC's Today has yet to devote even a news brief to the ongoing controversy surrounding the liberal politician. The only mention so far on the morning newscast was when correspondent Mike Taibbi made a 13-second reference to Filner during a July 13, 2013 report on Eliot Spitzer's run for New York City comptroller. By contrast, Today devoted a three-plus minute report to the massive Comic Con convention in San Diego on Sunday.

CBS journalist Ben Tracy noted that former San Diego city employee Irene McCormack Jackson "filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bob Filner, saying she could no longer remain anonymous – voicing in lurid detail the sexual harassment she says she and others experienced at the hands of the mayor." He featured three soundbites from Jackson during his report, along with a clip each from Filner himself and from San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith.

However, Tracy followed the example of fellow correspondent Bill Whitaker in omitting the San Diego mayor's party ID. CBS This Morning had provided that information in its initial reporting on the scandal.

News anchor Josh Elliot gave a 23-second news brief on Jackson's lawsuit, but like his ABC colleague Amy Robach on July 12, he failed to include Filner's political affiliation. Robach's news brief was part of a week-long trend on Good Morning America where the morning show failed to identify politicians involved in sex scandals as Democrats.

Back in February 2013, the MRC's Geoff Dickens exposed the Big Three network's overall double standard on political sex scandals, where they clearly identify Republicans caught in such controversies, but not doing likewise for Democrats.

The transcripts of Ben Tracy's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning and Josh Elliot's news brief from Tuesday's Good Morning America on ABC:


07/23/2013
07:17 am EDT
CBS This Morning

CHARLIE ROSE: For the first time, one of the women accusing San Diego's mayor of sexual harassment is breaking her silence.

Ben Tracy looks at the new allegations against Bob Filner.

[CBS News Graphic: "San Diego Scandal: One Of Mayor's Accusers Goes Public"]

IRENE MCCORMACK JACKSON, SEXUAL HARASSMENT PLAINTIFF (from press conference): His behavior made me feel ashamed, frightened, and violated.

BEN TRACY (voice-over): Former San Diego communications director Irene McCormack Jackson says it's time to show her face to the public. She's filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bob Filner, saying she could no longer remain anonymous – voicing in lurid detail the sexual harassment she says she and others experienced at the hands of the mayor.

JACKSON: I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women. I was placed in the 'Filner headlock', and moved around as a rag doll while he whispered sexual comments in my ear.

TRACY: Mayor Filner is refusing to resign, and he issued a statement yesterday saying, 'I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously, and I know that justice will prevail.' That's in line with the stance he took last Monday.

BOB FILNER, SAN DIEGO MAYOR: I just ask San Diegans to allow a full, impartial investigation to proceed.

JACKSON: Mayor Filner challenged me to give him one example of how his behavior towards me was improper. I pointed out that he had asked me to work without my underwear on. He had no comeback.

TRACY: Ever since the harassment allegation surfaced earlier this month, Filner's chief of staff has enforced a rule making sure the mayor is never alone with any woman while on city property.

JAN GOLDSMITH, SAN DIEGO CITY ATTORNEY: Without saying that they're true or that there's any culpability, we had to take some reasonable steps, and that was a very reasonable step. Everybody agreed to it.

TRACY: Unless he resigns, the only way Filner could be removed from office is a lengthy and expensive recall election. For 'CBS This Morning', Ben Tracy, Los Angeles.


07/23/2013
08:04 am EDT
ABC – Good Morning America

JOSH ELLIOTT: And the first lawsuit's now been filed in the sexual harassment scandal surrounding San Diego's mayor. Bob Filner's former communications director says he asked her to work without wearing underwear, and repeatedly dragged her around in a headlock while whispering sexual advances. Filner has apologized for how he's treated women in the past, but has thus far refused to resign.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center