My friend John Fogle, a fine writer, ran an eye-opening comparison in the Hendersonville Times-News today. It names the other crooked Congressman. The other one, who now resides in the same federal penitentiary as Cunningham, is Rep. Frank Ballance (D-NC). Here's the comparison of the national press coverage of these two convicts:
A Web search for articles containing the three words Cunningham, congressman and jail results in 156,000 hits. But, replace Cunningham with Ballance and you get only 890 hits. So the liberal press produced not twice as many, not 10 times as many, but 175 times as many articles describing a Republican going to jail as those describing a Democrat in the same predicament.
What explains the difference in coverage? Well, Cunningham is a white Republican, therefore a target of opportunity for much of the press. Ballance, on the other hand, is a black Democrat. And we cannot have strongly negative coverage of blacks and Democrats in the press, now can we?
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) is leading the charge against the "culture of corruption" among the Republicans. Here's another Google search to run. Try D'Alesandro + corruption + Baltimore. You will get just 194 hits. Why D'Alesandro?
Well, Nancy Pelosi grew up as Nancy D'Alesandro. She was the daughter of one Baltimore Mayor, Tommy D'Alesandro Sr, and the sister of another, Tommy III. Both Tommys were crooked as a dog's hind leg, but only one ever was charged with anything.
Tommy III was charged with rape as a young man, and charged with bribery as Mayor (along with a City Councilman, Mimi DiPietro). In both cases the charges were dropped when the principal witnesses made themselves scarce. In the bribery matter, the witness surfaced in a Las Vegas hotel connected to the mob, the day after the charges were dropped.
There are three possible reasons why this crooked Republican got big ink, but this crooked Democrat gets little ink. One is that Republicans are held to a higher standard. Corruption is considered par for the course, especially among big city Democrats. The other two are that the press are trying to protect both Democrats and blacks from the consequences of their own misdeeds.
My estimate is that the last two causes of slanted coverage are at play in the wildly disparate coverage of the convictions and jailings of Reps. Cunningham and Ballance.
Interestingly, this Hendersonville paper is owned by the New York Times. Obviously it has editorial independence, as this article would never see the light of day in the Times.