During Tuesday’s Hardball, the indictment of California Congressman Duncan Hunter for campaign finance violations came up as host Chris Matthews made sure to point out that Hunter was not only a Republican but the second member of Congress to endorse President Trump. Matthews gleefully pointed out that the first Member in New York Congressman Chris Collins has been indicted for insider trading and lying to the FBI.
Matthews then turned to The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank: “Dana, this is rich material for you. This is a gold mine.” Milbank said that the charges of campaign finance violations “seems to have brought him down” despite the fact that Hunter has not announced any plans to drop out of the race.
Milbank went on to make quite the comparison between Hunter to former Republican Congressman Mark Foley's scandal in 2006 when he had to resign after it became public that he had inappropriate relationships with congressional pages: “It has that sort of feeling of 2006 with Mark Foley, the Abramoff scandal going on.”
It should not come as that much of a surprise that liberals like to bring up 2006, the most recent year that the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives; a feat they hope to accomplish again this year.
While the indictment of a sitting congressman certainly deserves media coverage, the media only seems to consider scandals newsworthy when they affect Republicans.
Even when they do mention scandals and criminal charges involving Democrats, they almost always seem to leave out the elected official’s partisan affiliation. When the indictment of Collins became public two weeks ago, it made the front page of The New York Times.
When former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown was convicted of wire fraud, The New York Times did not to seem to think it was important at all; failing to mention her political affiliation in the story covering it, which they placed on page A22. The Times featured a story on her subsequent sentencing on page A18, where it did mention her partisan affiliation, albeit in the second paragraph.
ABC, CBS, and NBC seemed to agree that the American public did not deserve to know that a sitting Congresswoman found herself on the wrong side of the law. They also devoted a mere 68 seconds to a similar scandal involving then-Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah. Both Brown and Fattah ended up losing renomination in the Democratic primaries for their respective races in 2016.
As the Hunter campaign finance violation case continues to play out, it will be interesting to see how much time the media devotes to covering it. Considering the fact that Hunter is a Republican who supports President Trump, the media will probably spend a lot more than 68 seconds covering it.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s edition of Hardball With Chris Matthews is below.
MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Late today in California, Congressman Duncan Hunter, he’s a Republican, the second member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump and his wife were both indicted for misusing $250,000 in campaign money and falsifying the financial records. Chris Collins, by the way, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, was indicted two weeks ago for insider trading and lying to the FBI. Dana, this is rich material for you. This is a gold mine. What is it about the early people, the early money people for Trump?
DANA MILBANK: Well, in Duncan Hunter’s case, the lesson was clearly if you are going to fly your pet rabbit across the country, do not do it with campaign dollars. I think that is literally one of the things he did and that seems to have brought him down. It has that sort of feeling of 2006 with Mark Foley, the Abramoff scandal going on. You know, you keep…want to say, the wheels have fallen off the bus, but I am not sure the wheels were entirely on the bus. But it definitely seems like there is nothing imaginable that would, could tomorrow could happen that we could…
MATTHEWS: Our panel’s sticking with us. And up next, President Trump is under attack from all sides. Which of these assaults is most likely to keep him up at night? Even he must be worrying about Michael Cohen. This guy knows everything. We just saw him on the plane thanks to Omarosa. He was an insider all the way on Russia, everything. You’re watching Hardball.