During a breaking news brief on Friday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips failed to identify the party affiliation of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Democrat, who earlier in the day had been indicted on 12 counts related to a corruption probe by Maryland state officials. She did identify Dixon as “the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor” and “the first African-American female to serve as that city’s mayor.”
Phillips began the brief with a lament over corruption in politics in general: “Oh, as if we don’t have enough public corruption within our politics to report, we’ve got another piece of news that [is] just developing right now.” She then reported that the Baltimore mayor had been “indicted on public corruption...12 counts, I’m told -- perjury, theft, misconduct in office.” After describing some of the circumstances into the multi-year investigation, she continued her lament by focusing on the prestige of Dixon: “It’s a shame -- Mrs. Dixon was the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor -- also the -- you know, the first African-American female to serve as that city’s mayor.” The mayor’s Democratic affiliation was neither mentioned by Phillips during her brief, nor by CNN’s on-screen graphics.
The Baltimore Sun filed a breaking news report by Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz on their website on Friday which identified the mayor as a Democrat in the fourth paragraph. The report also gave additional details into the indictment:
Dixon was charged with perjury, theft, fraudulent misappropriation and misconduct, stemming in part from gifts she received from former boyfriend and developer Ronald H. Lipscomb, who was also charged earlier this week.
Dixon, a Democrat, has been the target of a nearly three-year probe by State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh into corruption at City Hall, an investigation that has centered on allegations that Dixon has used her office to award lucrative contracts to various people including her sister, her then-boyfriend and her former campaign chairman....
Some of the charges center on gift cards that Dixon received from two real estate developers. According to the indictment, Dixon told one of the developers that the gift cards were going to be distributed to needy families in Baltimore. Prosecutors say that in December 2005, when Dixon was City Council president, she used 19 of 20 Best Buy gift cards for herself, purchasing personal items, including a digital camcorder, a PlayStation 2 and other electronics.
Prosecutors say that in December 2006, she used Old Navy, Best Buy and other gift cards intended for needy families for an Xbox 360, a PlayStation Portable, clothes and other items for her own use....
The full transcript of Phillips’ brief, which aired 25 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour of Friday’s Newsroom program:
(CNN CAPTION: “Baltimore Mayor Indicted: Sheila Dixon indicted on 12 counts, including perjury and theft”)
KYRA PHILLIPS: Oh, as if we don’t have enough public corruption within our politics to report, we’ve got another piece of news that [is] just developing right now. This out of Baltimore -- the Baltimore mayor indicted on public corruption. It happened today -- 12 counts, I’m told -- perjury, theft, misconduct in office. What had happened back in 2008 -- we had reported a two-year state investigation that had been going on into her spending practices there in Baltimore, and then a raid had happened in her home. We’re talking about Mayor Sheila Dixon, and apparently it was one of the most aggressive moves when that investigation was taking place. That’s when we knew something was about to happen, and it was going to get much bigger than folks had expected. They had taken just boxes and boxes of papers out of her home. It’s a shame -- Mrs. Dixon was the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor -- also the -- you know, the first African-American female to serve as that city’s mayor. And now, today she was indicted on perjury, theft, and misconduct in office.