One would have thought the New York Times would have learned its labeling lesson, after what happened recently when it managed to leave off the inconvenient “Democrat” label from its initial coverage of the corruption trial of New Jersey U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
Yet the first filings of Benjamin Weiser’s relatively sympathetic story on the sentencing of former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner contained no party labels. At least one print version of the paper’s National Edition featured the scandal on the front page but with no Democratic label, under the headline “Weiner, Teary and Chastened, Is to Serve 21 Months for Lewd Texts.”
Weiser seemed awfully sympathetic to Weiner’s plight, reserving for paragraph five the fact that Weiner was texting a 15-year-old girl. This is how Weiser’s story begins on at least one front page:
He lost his seat in Congress, his audacious bid to resurrect his career as mayor of New York City, and his high-profile marriage. And he undermined Hillary Clinton’s shot at the presidency in the closing days of the tumultuous 2016 campaign.
On Monday, Anthony D. Weiner, sobbing as the judge spoke, learned the final, personal cost of his seemingly uncontrollable habit of exchanging lewd texts and pictures with women and girls: 21 months in prison.
Mr. Weiner, 53, was the essence of the brash politician fueled by relentless work and unbridled swagger. Until now, he was the beneficiary of multiple second chances, amid earnest vows that he had learned his lesson.
But this time, there would be no second chance for Mr. Weiner, who pleaded guilty in May to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor, and had faced up to 10 years in prison.
His texting habit fueled his long and tortuous downfall. But it was his most recent exchanges with a 15-year-old girl that were the most personally ruinous: his wife filed for divorce, he pleaded guilty and now faces imprisonment.
The third paragraph now begins: “Mr. Weiner, a Democrat...” and leaves his age for later.
Presumably the references to the Hillary Clinton campaign (Weiner was married to Clinton senior aide Huma Abedin) were sufficient to clue readers in, but it’s far from the first time the paper has downplayed the Democrat label during a political scandal.
The invaluable website newsdiffs.org suggests the Times only inserted that single identifier of “Democrat” in the very last draft of the story, too late for at least one print edition.
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This somehow transpired even though the paper went through a similar embarrassing escapade of omission just three weeks ago. As noted then, reporter Nick Corasaniti’s initial story on the trial of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey featured everything but one little detail: His Democratic Party affiliation. It’s a bad habit by the Times to ignore party affiliation of scandal-plagued Democrats, while eagerly, sometimes instantly, identifying Republican politicians in similar straits.