TV Networks Give Scant Coverage to Democrat David Wu's Strange Antics

February 24th, 2011 1:58 PM

A sitting congressman admitted earlier this week to seeking psychiatric treatment after news broke that he had sent bizarre photos of himself in a tiger costume to staff members and taken prescription pain killers given to him by an unnamed campaign donor.

Seven of Oregon Democrat David Wu's staff members reportedly quit after the 2010 campaign due to his bizarre behavior. The second largest newspaper in Wu's state has called for him to resign.

But apparently some of the largest news outlets in the country, including two of the three news networks and two of the three cable news channels, don't think a mentally unstable congressman and all of his bizarre activities merit even an on-air mention. Nearly a week after the story broke, ABC is the only network to give the story on-air coverage, and Fox is the only cable channel to mention it on-air.

The Oregonian newspaper reported on Friday, February 18:

Three days before the Nov. 2 election, U.S. Rep. David Wu’s most loyal and senior staffers were so alarmed by his erratic behavior that they demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment.

Their concern had been spiking for weeks in tandem with the Oregon Democrat's increasingly unpredictable performance on the campaign trail and in private. He was loud and sometimes angry, some of them told The Oregonian. He said kooky things to staff and -- more worrisome with a tough election fast approaching -- around potential voters and donors…

For some staffers, the beginning of the end was Wednesday, Oct. 27, when Wu delivered a belligerent and rambling 19-minute monologue to Washington County Democrats that some in the audience said was inappropriate for the friendly crowd. His behavior left staff members aghast…

Wu also forwarded a cheery photo of himself dressed as a tiger for Halloween. He had both hands -- paws -- held up to either side of his face. He was grinning broadly.

At that point, staff knew something was terribly wrong with their candidate. That Saturday, Oct. 30, they checked for available hospital beds and consulted with his psychiatrist. Veteran pollster Grove sent staffers the e-mail that signaled the end. She declined to comment for this story but earlier told The Oregonian that she would not work for Wu again.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday, Wu admitted that he had sought psychiatric help after the election. "I did some things, I said some things which I sincerely regret now," Wu said, "And as a result of those things I saw fit to consult professional help."

Wu insisted that he is fit to serve.

But given this bizarre behavior and revelations that a sitting U.S. congressman needed psychiatric treatment, why hasn't the story been picked up by numerous major national news outlets?

As mentioned, CBS and NBC have yet to even mention the story, according to a Nexis search. And though Wu's behavior earned stories from USA Today and the Washington Post, neither the New York Times nor the Los Angeles Times has written a word on the scandal.

On cable news, where more seedy and sensational stories usually earn significant coverage, the Wu scandal has been almost entirely ignored. Fox News briefly mentioned the story on Monday, according to Nexis, but neither MSNBC nor CNN has even acknowledged the scandal on air.

Depending on the fallout - whether or not Wu resigns - it may get more coverage, but so far one can't help but think that if Wu were a Republican, news outlets that have remained silent would be on the story like, er, stripes on a tiger.