CBS’s Borger Spins Democrat Jefferson’s Corruption Into Bad News for Both Parties

Gloria Borger concluded her Monday CBS Evening News story on the FBI’s weekend confiscation of cash from a freezer in Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson’s home by declaring a pox on both parties: “At a time when 77 percent of the American public believes that all members of Congress take bribes, Congressman Jefferson's troubles help no one in either party.” Unlike ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas and NBC anchor Campbell Brown who noted Jefferson’s party affiliation in their story introductions, CBS’s Bob Schieffer managed to set up Borger’s report without identifying Jefferson’s party: "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.” Borger did subsequently identify Jefferson as a Democrat. (Partial transcript follows)

Schieffer set up the May 22 CBS Evening News 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. Gloria Borger now with more on that.”
Gloria Borger soon outlined:
“Federal investigators now allege that last July, the Louisiana Democrat removed a leather briefcase from a car trunk containing $100,000 in $100 bills. He stuffed it inside the passenger compartment of his 1990 Lincoln Town Car and drove off. Hidden cameras taped it all. Shortly thereafter, agents found $90,000 in the freezer of Jefferson's Washington home, stuffed in frozen food containers. The Congressman insists he can explain everything...”
After relaying how Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist expressed concern about the FBI searching the office of a Member of Congress, Borger concluded from Capitol Hill:

“But this story is really not about FBI etiquette. At a time when 77 percent of the American public believes that all members of Congress take bribes, Congressman Jefferson's troubles help no one in either party, Bob.”

On Monday's Today, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, NBC's Ann Curry also avoided listing Jefferson's party affiliation:

"Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson has been caught on videotape accepting bribes according to court documents. The FBI accuses him of accepting $100,000 from an informant and then stashing the cash in his freezer. The Congressman has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing."

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