Name That Party: Chicago Alderman Sentenced to 4 Years; Sun-Times, AP Fail to Note Dem Party Affiliation

ArendaTroutman0209.jpgFormer Chicago Democratic Alderman Arenda Troutman was sentenced today to four years in prison for mail and tax fraud. In covering her sentencing, both the Chicago Sun-Times article (picture at right is cropped from that article) and Jeff Coen's Breaking News piece at the Chicago Tribune failed to mention that Troutman is a Democrat.

Now it would be easy to say, "But of course she's a Democrat; she's from Chicago." Okay, but the Sun-Times, in five other reports spread over almost two years, mentioned her party only once. What's more, the Tribune's coverage quoted Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Alesia saying that Troutman had been on "a five-year crime spree. .... Even by Chicago standards, it's (what she did is) no small crime."  Logically, this would mean that even by Chicago Democratic Party standards, what Troutman did stood out.

Troutman's "obvious" Democratic Party affiliation also doesn't exonerate the Associated Press, whose stories go national and worldwide, And yes, there are plenty of people around the country and in the rest of the world who do not know that Democrats own Windy City politics (a little reminder every once in a while to those who do know wouldn't hurt either).

Here's most of the short unbylined AP item:

A former Chicago alderman has been sentenced to four years in prison for taking thousands of dollars in payoffs and campaign money from developers who wanted zoning changes and other favors.

Arenda Troutman also omitted the cash she received from her taxes.

..... (U.S. District Judge Ruben) Castillo told the 17-year veteran of the Chicago City Council that he knew she wasn't a monster. But he disputed her claim that she didn't know that some of her associates were gang members.

As to the Sun-Times and Troutman, there's too much to go over in one post, but suffice it to say that if you visit the linked articles, you'll that Arenda Troutman is a real piece of work who, based on what she was convicted of doing, is clearly deserving of prison time. Here are the five previous Sun-Times articles:

  • August 6, 2008 -- "Former Ald. Arenda Troutman pleads guilty." Here is the one instance in the five previous reports where the Democratic Party was mentioned, as follows: "She allegedly handed the developer a flier and tickets for a fund-raiser called the 'Masquerade Ball' that her 20th Ward Regular Democratic Organization was holding and told the developer something like, 'You just bought some tickets.'"
  • November 9, 2007 -- "Ald.: She took it all" (Troutman apparently emptied her former office of its contents, including a desk and a computer, and left her successor with virtually nothing).
  • July 18, 2007 --  "Troutman pleads not guilty to bribery scheme charges"
  • June 13, 2007 -- "Troutman indicted on bribery charge"
  • April 23, 2007 -- "Troutman dad got rehab deal"

Even cutting the Sun-Times some slack because of Chicago's single-party dominance, it seems as if the paper had to work pretty hard to avoid telling readers what party Arenda Troutman belonged to.

Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Name That Party Major Newspapers Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Chicago Sun-Times Arenda Troutman

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