Following the arrest of Republican Congressman Chris Collins, the broadcast networks once again showcased their partisan double standard when it comes to corruption allegations against members of Congress. Collins’s arrest on Wednesday on insider trading charges resulted in a deluge of coverage, over 18 minutes in less than 24 hours. But in 2015 and 2016, ABC, CBS and NBC buried the indictment, trial and conviction of two Democratic representatives, offering absolutely no coverage of the scandal surrounding Congresswoman Corrine Brown (convicted of fraud) and a paltry 68 seconds to Chaka Fattah (convicted of bribery and fraud).
This double standard played out on the Wednesday nightly news programs and Thursday’s morning shows. These networks provided 18 minutes and 24 seconds to the charges against Collins. CBS devoted the most coverage, hyping the story for 7 minutes and 6 seconds. ABC came in second, offering 5 minutes and 41 seconds. Abd in a close third, NBC highlighted the accusations against the New York politician for 5 minutes and 37 seconds.
In contrast, these same networks totally ignored Democratic Congressman Fattah of Pennsylvania's trial. During the year-and-a-half period in between his indictment and conviction for bribery and fraud, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening programs managed a scant 68 seconds.
The trial and conviction of Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown over fraud charges resulted in ZERO coverage. Brown was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in relation to her education charity.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the networks not only offered a lot of time to Collins’s arrest, but they also heavily emphasized the Republican’s connection to Trump. On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos opened the program by highlighting the Trump connection: “One of the President’s earliest supporters comes into the crosshairs.”
On NBC’s Today, Stephanie Gosk reminded: “Collins was the first sitting congressman to support Donald Trump's candidacy back in 2016.”
CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King opened the show by trumpeting: “The first congressman to endorse President Trump’s campaign says he’s running for reelection despite insider trading charges.” Network reporter Tony Dokoupil came up with a new standard: “On Wednesday, he became the first Congressman to be charged with a crime since Trump’s presidency.”
Is that the journalistic standard now? Corruption matters because Trump is President? Apparently, corrupt Democrats were of no concern during the Obama era.
[Thanks to the MRC’s Nicholas Fondacaro for the research numbers on Wednesday’s evening newscasts.]