Name That Party: AP Stops Tagging Troubled 'Centrist' Wu As a Dem

Oregon residents and news followers nationwide can be forgiven for shaking their heads over the Associated Press's latest item on the misadventures of Congressman David Wu. All of a sudden he's apparently not a Democrat -- well, at least he's not identified as such by the wire service's Jonathan J. Cooper.

Wu has gained a degree of infamy over his erratic behavior (to be described shortly for those unfamiliar with the story) leading up to his reelection in 2010.

What's odd about Cooper's failure to tag Wu as a Democrat in his latest report is that he and the AP have done so in several previous dispatches:

  • A February 19 unbylined report ("Report: Congressman urged to get psychiatric help") identified Wu as a Democrat in its first paragraph.
  • His February 23 item ("Newspapers, GOP call for congressman to resign") identified Wu as a Democrat twice, including once in its first paragraph, and later when it described his district as a "Democratic stronghold."
  • A brief February 24 item on Wu ("Newspaper, GOP call for Wu to resign") named his party in the second paragraph.

The theory here is that now that Wu's woes have become a more prominent national story, the AP has decided that the party identification of Wu should came to a halt, lest readers get their minds polluted with the craaaaazy idea that politicians in various forms of trouble in recent years have been largely if not mostly from the Democratic Party. Logically (if there is such a thing at AP) it should have worked the opposite way, as national readers are less likely to already know that Wu is a Dem, and would be interested in knowing.

Here are several paragraphs from Cooper's Sunday evening report:

An Oregon congressman whose erratic behavior has recently prompted calls for his resignation said Sunday that some of his actions could be attributed to a reaction to a mental health drug.


U.S. Rep. David Wu told The Associated Press, however, that it does not explain the behavior documented in reports over the last month, which included sending his staff photos of himself wearing a tiger costume.


Wu said he was hospitalized after his 2008 campaign for symptoms that were later diagnosed as a reaction to a common mental health drug. He said he felt dizzy and confused on Election Day that year, when his staff and family reportedly were unable to locate him.


The AP interview in his Portland office was the most detailed public account yet of Wu's psychiatric treatment since reports of his erratic behavior first surfaced last month. Six staff members quit after his 2010 re-election campaign during which the congressman gave angry speeches and talked his way inside the secure portion of Portland International Airport.


The congressman said last year's episodes were the culmination of a period of mental health challenges that began in 2008 as marital issues led toward his separation from his wife.


... He declined to detail the problems in his marriage but said they had nothing to do with his health.


... Wu attributed his outbursts in 2010 to stress from a tough campaign, a dissolving marriage and taking care of his children, ages 11 and 13.


Asked whether he can handle the stresses of Congress and of a future campaign, Wu said his October episode happened during a period of such extreme stress that wouldn't occur again.


... Wu said he would not step down, despite calls for his resignation from Republicans and from some Oregon newspapers.

The last excerpted paragraph, the 18th of 19 in Cooper's full report, is the only clue that Wu is a Dem through and through.

Wu may have had problems with dizziness and confusion as described above, but it's nothing compared to the dizziness and confusion the AP's Cooper must have been enduring when he wrote this paragraph in his February 23 report (bold is mine):

Wu was a political newcomer when he was elected to Congress in 1998 as the first Chinese-American to serve in the U.S. House. He's maintained a centrist voting record but been a leading voice on human rights abuses in China, and he angered the high-tech firms in his district when he voted against normalizing trade relations with China.

Here are a couple of outside opinions concerning Wu's alleged "centrism":

  • His 2009, 2008, and 2007 grades from the conservative, economic freedom-oriented Club for Growth are 0%, 0%, and 6%.
  • At the ultraliberal Americans for Democratic Action in each of the same three years, he had ratings of 100%, 90%, and 100%. His 2009 and 2007 voting records earned him recognition as an "ADA Hero."

Earth to Jonathan Cooper regarding Wu's politics: Centrist, schmentrist.

Cross-posted at

Name That Party Labeling Bias by Omission Media Bias Debate 2010 Congressional Campaigns & Elections Associated Press Wire Services/Media Companies David Wu Jonathan Cooper

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