ABC, CBS Fail to Label Scandal-Tarred Jesse Jackson Jr. a Democrat

On Thursday morning, neither ABC nor CBS labeled former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. a Democrat as they reported on his 30 month jail sentence. NBC's Today did not report Jackson's sentence on Thursday, but on Wednesday they covered it without identifying him as a Democrat.

"Jesse Jackson, Jr. will spend two and a half years in prison. The former Illinois congressman was sentenced Wednesday," reported Charlie Rose, co-host of CBS This Morning. ABC's Josh Elliot said on Good Morning America that "former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for misusing campaign funds, spending $750,000 on things such as a gold Rolex and 500 dollar dinners."


Thursday morning's whitewash continued a network trend. None of the Wednesday evening network newscasts labeled Jackson a Democrat. And on Wednesday morning, both NBC and CBS failed to give the Democrat label as they briefly reported on his sentencing. ABC's Good Morning America skipped the story that morning.

The networks' reluctance to mention the label "Democrat" echoes the media's double standard when it comes to political scandals. As NewsBusters reported back in February, the networks ignored Jackson's Democratic affiliation in 11 out of their first 15 stories after he was charged.

While not reporting Jackson's Democratic label, Wednesday's ABC World News still noted that his "famous" father Jesse Jackson Sr. was a "civil rights leader." Anchor Diane Sawyer reported, "A famous father has a son about to go to jail." Correspondent Linsey Davis added that "Jackson's father, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Sr., suggests the behavior was largely due to his son's diagnosis last year of bipolar disorder."

Below is a transcript of the segments:

CBS
CBS THIS MORNING
8/15/2013
[7:16 am EDT]

[CBS News Graphic: "Jackson Jr. Sentenced: 30 Months In Prison For Misusing Campaign Cash"]

CHARLIE ROSE: Jesse Jackson, Jr. will spend two and a half years in prison. The former Illinois congressman was sentenced Wednesday. He pleaded guilty to illegally spending three-quarters of a million dollars in campaign funds. After court, Jackson said he made mistakes.

JESSE JACKSON, JR.: I still believe in the power of forgiveness. I believe in the power of redemption. Today, I manned up, and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways. And I still believe in the resurrection.

ROSE: Jackson's wife Sandra will spend a year in jail for filing false income tax returns.

ABC
GOOD MORNING AMERICA
8/15/13
[7:10 a.m. EDT]

JOSH ELLIOT: And former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for misusing campaign funds, spending $750,000 on things such as a gold Rolex and 500 dollar dinners. His wife will also serve time. Jackson cried in court, admitting that he, quote, "let a lot of people down," end quote.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014