ABC, CBS Go 3-for-3: Refuse to ID Nagin as Democrat After Indictment, Conviction, and Sentencing

On Wednesday, ABC and CBS's evening newscasts punted yet again on reporting Ray Nagin's Democratic affiliation, after the disgraced former New Orleans mayor was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for corruption. World News and CBS Evening News previously omitted Nagin's party ID when he was indicted in January 2013, and after a jury convicted him in February 2014.

ABC's Diane Sawyer hyped that the politician's sentencing was "a staggering fall from grace for the man who rose to national fame leading his city through Hurricane Katrina," but failed to mention that the Democrat was widely criticized for his handling of the disaster. By contrast, Brian Williams mentioned both his political affiliation and the post-Katrina criticism on NBC Nightly News: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

BRIAN WILLIAMS:  Former Democratic mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin – a major figure who took a lot of heat during Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath – has been sentenced to ten years in prison, after being convicted on several corruption charges – including bribery, money laundering. He was accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and trips from business executives in exchange for work from the city. He has denied wrongdoing.

Williams's mention of political ID is noteworthy, as he failed to include it during his past reporting of the politician's indictment and conviction.

On World News, Sawyer set aside a mere 14 seconds to her news brief on Nagin's sentencing:

DIANE SAWYER: And to New Orleans now: today, former Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to ten years in prison on corruption charge – a staggering fall from grace for the man who rose to national fame leading his city through Hurricane Katrina.

Scott Pelley skirted using such labeling during his 21-second news brief on CBS Evening News, but didn't include the former mayor's party affiliation:


SCOTT PELLEY: Today, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for corruption. Nagin was mayor during Hurricane Katrina. He was convicted of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from business owners who wanted city work. Nagin has denied everything, and made no apologies today. He reports to prison in September.

In a January 2014 report, the MRC's Geoff Dickens documented how the Big Three networks "rarely identify corrupt politicians" who are Democrats, but regularly do so for similarly-disgraced Republicans.

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