AP/ABC Ignore Party Affiliation of Disgraced New Orleans DA

October 30th, 2007 8:00 PM

We know that the mainstream media love to report on all of the following: 1) the mass firing of prosecutors for political reasons; 2) anything about New Orleans; 3) and race issues in Lousiana. So what happens when you have one story that covers all three topics? The answer is almost nothing when the story involves an embattled Democratic official.

New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan took office in 2003. Upon assuming office, Jordan immediately fired 53 of the 77 employees in the office. Of the 53 employees fired, 52 were white and one was Hispanic. The white employees (and one Hispanic) were replaced with black workers. Despite the obvious racial implications, Jordan claimed he filled key positions with political supporters and did not discriminate based on race.

Some of those employees sued in 2005 and were awarded a judgment in federal court of $3.65 million (although the judgment was against Jordan's office, and not Jordan personally). The judgment was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in August.

The situation reached a climax this week when Plaintiffs' counsel threatened aggressive action (including the seizure of payroll) in order to compel payment of the judgment from the DA's office. There was some discussion of the State of Louisiana taking over the office, as the state, parish, and New Orleans all denied liability for the judgment. Under mounting pressure from this legal disaster, and also under heat for increased crime since Hurricane Katrina, Jordan today submitted his resignation.

And now let's have a show of hands of those who have heard of this story at all.

Despite having all the ingredients of a mainstream media bonanza, this story has received relatively little coverage. The coverage is especially paltry when considered in comparison to the media frenzy that occurred incident to the President Bush's firing of just a handful of U.S. Attorneys (who weren't obviously dismissed on the basis of race). The "Attorneygate" story lingered in the media for weeks on just the allegation of political firings. In Jordan's case though, the political nature of the firings was not an allegation, it was Jordan's stated defense to allegations of racial firings. 

And even when the story has been covered, the media have routinely neglected to mention Jordan's party affiliation (Democrat). ABC.com has recently run three AP stories which have not mentioned Jordan's party affiliation at all: New Orleans District Attorney to Resign (October 30, 2007); La. Mayor: State May Take Over DA Office (October 28, 2007); New Orleans DA Loses Race-Firing Appeal (August 15, 2007). 

In addition to the AP stories, ABC.com ran an additional story today on The Blotter (the blog of investigative journalist Brian Ross). The story featured an August 2006 Ross interview in which Jordan accused Ross of asking "stupid" questions and stormed out of the interview. The article included a link to the video of the interview - which was nearly seven minutes long. Ross was obviously dancing on Jordan's grave here, regurgitating Jordan's embarassing interview on the day he resigned. And, as with the other stories, neither the article nor the video ever disclosed Jordan's party affiliation.