I've noted an interesting disparity in how the Associated Press, the so-called Essential Global News Network, has covered Democratic and Republican congressional victories in situations where the counting has gone on well past Election Day.
Let's contrast the amount of ink and bandwidth devoted to Republican Joe Walsh's victory over incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean in Illinois compared to the coverage accorded California Democrat Jerry McNerney in his victory over the GOP's David Harmer.
First, in Walsh vs. Bean, the following is the only item that comes up in a search on Ms. Bean's name at the AP's main site:
An oatmeal cookie to the first reporter who gets around to asking North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge (D) why he refused to answer a crucial ObamaCare question during his debate last Saturday with his Republican challenger, Renee Ellmers. The fact that he refused to answer was amazing. And the fact that the Raleigh News & Observer completely neglected to report the refusal in its story about the debate is even more amazing. Here is a transcript of Etheridge refusing to answer the ObamaCare question with the video clip below the fold:
Renee Ellmers: "Congressman, you said that something will have to give, well the people of district two are going to give, and give, and give, in order to keep this massive healthcare bill in place. Am I correct to assume, and I guess this is a question, you believe the government can handle one sixth (1/6) of the economy better than the free enterprise system? That Americans, North Carolinians can't make those choices and put those things in place better than the government?"
Moderator Kim Genardo: "Rebuttal, or shall we move on?
Howard Kurtz on Sunday said most mainstream media outlets "really blew it this week" in how they reported North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge's attack on students.
"Most treated it as intriguing footage or a good gossip item, but the guy went bonkers when approached by two young men with a video camera," Kurtz said near the end of CNN's "Reliable Sources."
After playing the video of the incident, Kurtz surprisingly asked, "Remember how the media went nuts over that tape of Republican Senator George Allen using the word 'Macaca?'"
He continued, "By minimizing this footage of a Democratic congressman, most news organizations have enabled their critics to charge once again that they have a double standard" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
To be sure, Hall says, "No he's not a hero. He's a jerk," but he only added that part in after his post was savaged by commenters. Earlier versions of the post, including the one automatically posted to Beltway Blips and the excerpt on Hall's author page show that clarification was added later, and the post itself notes, "Edit. note – this post has been slightly edited for clarity from an earlier iteration."
Hall's defense of Etheridge echos the DNC talking points that the videographers were unidentified and probably conservative. After all, assault is perfectly fine as long as it is done to a conservative or an alleged Republican operative. (Indeed, the media seems to have adopted this lesson in the Tea Party movement.) Hall said:
None of the three broadcast evening newscasts had even a few seconds last night for video of Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge physically grabbing and yelling at an unidentified student attempting to ask him whether he supports President Obama’s agenda. But last Thursday, after Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina was caught making a flip remark about Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer’s hair, ABC’s World News ran a full report on that “caught on tape political moment.”
Worth noting: Back on June 10, George Stephanopoulos was sitting in for Diane Sawyer. But last night, Sawyer was back in the anchor chair.
In introducing last week's report from correspondent Jonathan Karl, Stephanopoulos touted the Fiorina flap as “the latest caught off guard, caught on tape, all too candid political moment.” The Etheridge scuffle would surely fit that same standard, but ABC’s World News had no time on Monday to mention that embarrassment for the Democrats.
In the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall did a news brief on Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge assaulting two students attempting to ask him a question last week, proclaiming: "...there are some Democrats that are blasting the people allegedly behind this video....some would catagorize that as an ambush interview..." [Audio available here]
Hall played a clip of the video showing the assault and afterwards quoted an written apology from Etheridge. She described how the video "first appeared on Andrew Breitbart's conservative blog BigGovernment.org," remarking that he "was partly responsible for that notorious ACORN video featuring conservative James O'Keefe." Hall made sure to also mention that "O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering Senator Mary Landrieu's office under false pretenses." Hall then suspiciously noted about the Etheridge video: "One of these so-called camera men at one point reportedly identified himself as a student, so there's discrepancy over who these individuals really are."
In the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing spoke with NBC correspondent Luke Russert about the altercation and explained to viewers: "...in spite of the fact of what we see on camera and his apology, there are Democrats, right Luke, who frankly say they think that we need to look beyond what might seem obvious." Russert replied: "...nobody knows who these, quote, 'students' are" and cited Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse claiming they were actually Republican Party operatives. He concluded: "So a lot of Democrats are saying wait, hold on, this was a set up. This guy was intentionally put out to do this by the Republican Party."
Note that the incident took place "last week," according to the linked BigGovernment.com post, which means that Etheridge didn't see the need for an apology until the video went viral.
So ... who does the intrepid Associated Press attempt to go to for comment? The Congressman? Apparently not, as you will see; the AP must see his "apology" as the end of the story. The person whom Etheridge arguably assaulted? Legal experts, who could weigh in on whether the congressman could be arrested and and charged? House or Democratic Party colleagues? No-no-no.
Get a load, in the final paragraph of what will probably end up being a brief initial report, of who the AP believes owes it a comment first and foremost: