Tuesday's CBS Evening News highlighted an ethics investigation of a long-serving House Democrat, but viewers were not clued in to his party affiliation verbally or with any an on-screen notation. Yet CBS slapped a party name on screen as a Murtha critic spoke: “Rep. Jeff Flake (R) Arizona.”
Fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez avoided Murtha's party as she asserted “there are few politicians as polarizing as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha” and referred to him as “a powerful member of Congress.” In a story which consumed about-two-and-a- half minutes, reporter Sharyl Attkisson also failed to identify Murtha's party.
Rodriguez teased the story at the top of the Tuesday, March 17 CBS Evening News:
Also tonight, a CBS News investigation. Questions about the actions of a powerful member of Congress and whether defense contractors unfairly got earmarked funds.
She set up the subsequent story:
There are few politicians as polarizing as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha. Voters in his district love all the federal funding he lines up for projects back home. But critics call him the king of earmarks who wastes a lot of taxpayer money. Now the FBI is taking a close look at some of those projects. More from Sharyl Attkisson in this CBS News investigation.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Under fire for his earmarking practices, Congressman John Murtha wouldn't grant us an interview today....
Representative Jeff Flake, who's against earmarks of any kind, is calling for an ethics investigation and says it could dwarf the last lobby mess to hit Washington.
ATTKISSON TO FLAKE: This is bigger than the Abramoff scandal?
REP. JEFF FLAKE (R) ARIZONA: In terms of contributions and circular fundraising and the involvement of members, it's much bigger, much bigger.
ATTKISSON: In the coming weeks Murtha will help divvy up new defense earmarks....