All three network morning shows on Friday ignored the fact that the ex-San Diego mayor who gambled away an astonishing $1 billion is a Democrat. ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning covered Maureen O'Connor and explained how she wasted most of the money on video poker. But none of them mentioned the party affiliation of the politician.
GMA's Josh Elliott simply related, "A former mayor of San Diego has admitted to gambling away a staggering $1 billion, including millions that she took from her late husband's charity." Today's Natalie Morales described the fraud as an "unbelievable debt." She, too, only used the term "former San Diego mayor." On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell did the same. A graphic deemed the massive crime as being committed by an "ex-mayor." On Fox News, however, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade identified "former Democratic Mayor Maureen O'Connor."
This type of selective labeling isn't new. On January 18, after well known ex-Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted for corruption, all three networks failed to identify him as a Democrat.
On December 8, 2011, ABC and NBC omitted the Democratic Party ID for disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich as he was sentenced.
In contrast, "Republican" was the first word of the ABCNews.com headline about Senator Ted Stevens and the corruption charges against him. (These charges were later dismissed.)
A transcript of the brief February 15 coverage can be found below:
JOSH ELLIOTT: A former mayor of San Diego has admitted to gambling away a staggering $1 billion, including millions that she took from her late husband's charity. Maureen O'Connor, who was married to the founder of the Jack in the Box fast food chain, lost most of it playing video poker. She's reached a deal to avoid prosecution while trying to repay it.
Fox and Friends
BRIAN KILMEADE: She went from being in charge of billions of dollars to gambling it all away. We're talking about former Democratic San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor admitting she stole two million dollars to support her gambling addiction.
MAUREEN O'CONNOR (D): It was at a time that, in my life, I guess it's the last chapter of my life, where I lost my husband, I lost three of my siblings, I lost my two best friends.
KILMEADE: Authorities say O'Connor won over a billion dollars from 2000 to 2009, but lost even more. She received deferred prosecution to avoid prison– to avoid prison and pay back the money. Casino tax filings tipped off the IRS.
NATALIE MORALES: An unbelievable debt for former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor. The 66-year-old has been charged with money laundering after a decade-long gambling spree in which she won about a billion dollars but lost even more, leaving her $13 million in the red.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Billion Dollar Gamble; Former San Diego Mayor Charged With Money Laundering]
She attributes the behavior to a gambling addiction and brain tumor diagnosed in 2011. O'Connor pleaded not guilty.
08:08 am EST
CBS This Morning
NORAH O'DONNELL: The former mayor of San Diego admits she stole over $2 million from her late husband's charitable foundation so she could gamble. Maureen O'Connor was mayor from 1986 til 1992. She won and lost more than a billion dollars over ten years, mostly on video poker. Her lawyer says she has an addiction. Yesterday, she accepted a deal that will put off prosecution for two years.
[CBS News Graphic: "Gargantuan Gamble: Ex-Mayor Lost $1 Billion On Bets"]
MAUREEN O'CONNOR, FORMER SAN DIEGO MAYOR: I did borrow the money from my husband's foundation. I always intended to pay it back, and I still intend to pay it back. And I think most of you that know me here would know that I never meant to hurt the (unintelligible).