Hell Freezes Over? NBC Finally Calls Spitzer 'Democratic Governor'

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, substitute NBC Nightly News anchor Ann Curry and reporter Mike Taibbi failed to identify disgraced outgoing New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat, but on Thursday night Curry finally informed NBC viewers of the party affiliation -- a fact network journalists always consider relevant when a Republican gets caught in scandalous behavior. Curry set up a story on incoming Governor David Paterson by uttering the word she's avoided all week:


Now to the fast moving developments in the wake of the revelations that New York's Democratic Governor, Eliot Spitzer, was a client of a prostitution service. NBC's Mike Taibbi now with the man who's to take over for Spitzer on Monday.

But, reverting to her default conduct, in an item about the passing of very liberal ex-Senator Howard Metzenbaum, Curry never mentioned his ideology or party as she hailed his life as “the classic American success story” of a man who “always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries” while he “stuck to his populist principles.”

For the record, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric cited Spitzer's party on Monday and Wednesday nights while ABC's World News didn't until Wednesday evening.

The morning shows have completely blacked out the fact Spitzer is a Democrat. The closest NBC's Today show came this week was in this question from Meredith Vieira to Tim Russert on Thursday's show: “Let's talk very quickly about Governor Spitzer's resignation. He was a super-delegate for Senator Clinton. So she loses his vote. Beyond that, do you see any other fallout for the Democrats?” For more on Thursday's Today show, see the earlier NewsBusters posting by Geoff Dickens.

For a comparison of how the broadcast networks apply party labels to Republicans but not Democrats, specifically Republicans David Vitter and Larry Craig versus Democrat Eliot Spitzer, see the item from Rich Noyes, “MRC Study: Networks Always Label GOPers With Sex Scandals.”

On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, Taibbi ignored Spitzer's political party but cited Republican Congressman Peter King's party as he described "Republicans threatening impeachment if he doesn't resign." Before video of State Rep. James Tedisco with an "(R-NY)" on screen, Taibbi also noted how "some Republicans in Albany would welcome" the move up by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson....

For more, check my March 11 NewsBusters posting, “For Second Night, ABC and NBC Refuse to Utter Spitzer's Party ID.”

For a rundown of Wednesday night coverage, check my March 12 item, “ABC Finally IDs Spitzer as Democrat, NBC Fails to for Third Night.”

Curry's short item on Metzenbaum on the Thursday, March 13 NBC Nightly News:


We learned today that former Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum has died. His life was the classic American success story. A self-made millionaire, his public career spanned nearly 20 years. And he always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries, often using filibusters to block bills. After leaving the Senate, Metzenbaum stuck to his populist principles, leading the Consumer Federation of America. Howard Metzenbaum was 90 years old.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center