WaPo Puts GOP Donor Scandal on Front Page, But Buried Dem Donor Scandal

July 30th, 2010 6:50 PM

Some very persuasive evidence of a double standard at work in The Washington Post came to light today. Today's Post featured a front page headline about the Securities and Exchange Commission charging billionaire brothers Sam and Charlers Wyly with fraud.

The double standard came in when it became clear that the news a couple weeks ago about the conviction of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee had gotten almost no notice. The Post printed an Associated Press item on the third page. Nemazee had defrauded almost $300 million and was a major contributor and fundraiser to John Kerry's presidential campaign and Hilary Clinton's campaign to be 2008's Democratic nominee.

The Wylys have donated to Republicans and the Republican Party in the past, a fact The Post made very prominent both in its headline: "SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to Gop with fraud" and put in a quick reminder right in the story's first paragraph:

Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.

The Post was far more, shall we say, "subtle" with its coverage of the Nemazee scandal. Michael Barone reports:

This intensive treatment led me to wondering how the Post handled the conviction and sentencing to 12 years in jail earlier this month of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee for defrauding banks of $292 million? Answer: It ran as part of a three-item story labeled CRIMINAL JUSTICE on page A3, a five-paragraph Associated Press story headlined “Former Democratic Fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Kerry Gets 12 Years for Fraud.”
My check of The Post's website picked up only one other story from July 12, page C1, headlined "Changing arts & minds: N. Y. financial titans feel like outsiders as Obama . . . ." But perhaps I didn't use the search function correctly; please let me know if I missed other Post coverage of the Nemazee case.

He did, sort of. The Post published five other stories relating to the Nemazee arrest, indictment and trial. Barone is correct that only two stories - the two he mentions - were actually about the conviction, so his point still stands. The post gave far more prominent coverage to the Wyly scandal than it did to the Nemazee one.

Barone goes on to account for this fact:.

I wonder why the Nemazee story-about a conviction, not just charges-was not deemed as worthy of front-page and exhaustive treatment as the Wyly story. Is fraud by a Democratic fundraiser considered more of a dog-bites-man story and alleged fraud by Republican fundraisers considered more of a man-bites-dog story over at the Post?

The Post did make clear Nemazee's ties to leading Democratic politicians, if only briefly, at the top of its July 16 story. But it didn't give nearly as great prominence to them as it did to the Wylys' ties to leading Republican politicians in its July 30 story. Fair and balanced? I'll let you decide.