Follow-up: Former CA Speaker's Son Enters Murder Plea; Dem Party ID Buried/Unnamed; GOP Pols Treated Differently

EstebanNunezPic1208.jpgUpdating Kerry Picket's NewsBusters post yesterday on the arrest of former (as of four days ago) Democratic California Assembly member Fabian Nuñez's son on murder charges -- Esteban Nuñez and others charged with murder pled not guilty Thursday.

The party-ID treatment of Fabian Nuñez, whose term as California Assemly Speaker ended on May 13, but whose term in the Assembly ended just this past Sunday, was barely better than what Kerry observed in the articles she reviewed yesterday.

Here's the rundown, which I will follow with past examples of obviously disparate treatment of Republican politicians whose sons got into much less trouble with the law:

  • The San Diego Union Tribune story did not name Nuñez's party.
  • The Los Angeles Times's story ("Possible gang link probed in arrest of Nuñez's son") told us in Paragraphs 30 and 31 (of 32) that "(Esteban) Nuñez was born in Pomona. His father grew up in San Diego and Tijuana, one of 12 children of immigrant parents. He became the political director for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and a lobbyist for the Los Angeles Unified School District. (new paragraph in original) In 2002, the Democrat was elected to the Assembly. Fabian Nuñez, 41, is now on the board of Zenith National Insurance Corp. of Woodland Hills and a partner and co-chairman of Mercury Public Affairs in Sacramento." A 2-1/2 minute video at the Times link does not identify Fabian Nuñez's party.
  • The dynamic Associated Press link that Kerry referred to now carries an updated story including today's events, and says in its 20th and last paragraph that "Fabian Nunez is the longest-serving speaker in California's era of legislative term limits. The Los Angeles Democrat cultivated a close relationship with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that led to their agreement on a landmark law to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California." Without getting into a lot of detail, suffice it to say that the AP could have picked from at least a couple of other less complimentary aspects of Nuñez's just-ended political career.

The Times's story has a piece of information not in the other two articles cited that would appear to justify bringing Fabian Nuñez into the story at a more than peripheral level, or at least call for a question or two:

(Esteban) Nuñez told his friends that, if they were charged, his father could get them off on a self-defense argument, according to court documents.

On the surface, it might seem reasonable to contend, as a commenter at Kerry's original post did, that party ID in a story about a son or daughter isn't terribly relevant. I would tend to agree with that.

The problem is, the press doesn't, but ordinarily only when Republican politicians' kids do wrong. It's ridiculously easy to find examples where the party ID of GOP politicians whose sons have gotten into lesser degrees of trouble over the years has been on prominent display.

I obtained the following examples by following the links provided in a Google News Archive search on ["son of Republican" arrested] (typed as indicated within brackets):

GramsSon2000PartyID

CunninghamSon1997PartyID

LugarSon2000PartyID

Note especially in the final example that the Associated Press had no trouble finding space for Dick Lugar's party ID in an 86-word story about his 40 year-old (!) son.

More recent examples found in other ways include these:

 HuckabeeSonGOPpartyID0407

 HaleyBarbourGOPson0803

It's thus very obvious that the excuses for ignoring Fabian Nuñez's Democratic party affilation in the stories about his son don't fly -- and they won't, until the press rids itself of its seemingly gleeful obsession with naming only the party of GOP politicians when their kids get in trouble.

Media Bias Debate 2008 Presidential Double Standards Crime Bias by Omission Major Newspapers Regional Media California Los Angeles Times Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Fabian Nuñez Esteban Nuñez