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).
If you’re a politician with “D” at the end of your name, it grants you certain privileges from an all too friendly press. They go easy on you in interviews, give you the benefit of the doubt, and if you’re ever charged or convicted of a serious crime, they’ll mostly ignore it. This double standard was on full display Wednesday when New York GOP Congressman Chris Collins was arrested for alleged insider trading.
When Republican Congressman Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania resigned in disgrace on October 5, all three broadcast evening shows ran reports on it. NBC’s Today also covered this story the following morning. But just last year when another Pennsylvania Congressman, Democrat Chaka Fattah, was forced to step down amid a corruption trial that eventually ended in his conviction, not one of the morning or evening shows on ABC, CBS or NBC covered his resignation at all.
On Tuesday, NBC’s Today featured a nearly two-minute long report on former Republican Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock being arraigned on corruption charges in federal court. However, the morning show completely ignored the 10-year prison sentence handed down against former Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah for racketeering.
If Black Lives Matter, then why have entrenched members of the Congressional Black Caucus spent more time enriching themselves than taking care of their neglected constituents? Too many social justice protesters are busy throwing shade, rocks, bottles, concrete blocks and vicious death threats at police officers of all colors trying to keep the peace.
On Tuesday, CNN and MSNBC minimized their coverage of a Pennsylvania jury convicting Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah on 23 federal charges related to a scheme to repay campaign debt from an aborted 2007 bid to become mayor of Philadelphia. Jake Tapper stood out as the only CNN anchor, as of noon on Wednesday, to mention that Fattah was "found guilty on all 23 charges he faced — including racketeering, money laundering, and fraud" during a brief on his program, The Lead. Steve Kornacki also gave a news brief on MSNBC Live.
News broke Tuesday that Democratic Representative Chaka Fattah, of Pennsylvania, was convicted of a laundry list of federal corruption charges. According to Politico, the list includes, “bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and filing false statements.” The elaborate scheme included Fattah lobbying the president or an appointment for one of his co-conspirator. All of this and the networks ignored it on their evening newscasts.
ABC failed to cover on Wednesday’s World News Tonight the criminal indictment of Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah (Penn.) on charges related to alleged racketeering and conspiracy that resulted in the misuse of campaign funds and federal grant money for his personal gain. Surprisingly, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News covered the story and labeled Fattah as a Democrat in news briefs on the matter. In addition, NBC disclosed the fact that Fattah’s wife is a news anchor with the peacock network’s station in Philadelphia, NBC 10 (but neglected to note that she’s been placed on leave following Wednesday’s events).
MSNBC host and native Philadelphian Chris Matthews devoted less than a minute tonight to news of numerous federal indictments handed down today against Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.). The Hardball host prefaced the story by editorially commenting, "This is sad news."
Facts are such inconvenient things. Especially financial facts and figures.
On Tuesday, Rebecca Shabad at the Hill composed a 34-paragraph report entitled "Washington is ready to spend." Really? When have Congress or the White House not been ready to spend? Oh, I get it. She really means that they're getting ready to spend more. How much more? Readers will search in vain for anything beyond a one-paragraph discussion of a "$51.4 billion House bill funding justice" discussing two tiny items amounting to less than $100 million. That bill represents a whopping 1-1/2 percent of the roughly $3.5 trillion in annual federal spending. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
MSNBC’s Al Sharpton got nasty on Wednesday’s episode of his program PoliticsNation, comparing Republican-backed legislation to common household pests. The reverend’s remark came at the end of a conversation with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) on the House GOP’s proposed agriculture budget.
Sharpton and Fattah took particular issue with the budget’s proposal that only rural areas are to receive federal funding for a program to help low-income children get meals during the summer. After thanking the congressman for his time, Sharpton added this metaphor to illustrate what he thinks he’s doing on his show:
Two situations over the weekend illustrate that the Associated Press's habitual failure to identify the political party of Democrats in trouble is more than likely a conscious decision. This is despite the AP Stylebook's guidance (as of 2000, the latest free edition I can find; a PDF is here) that a reporter should "include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is."
In both of the instances I will cite, local papers decided that party affiliation was important enough to include. But AP reporters decided that they weren't, even though out-of-state readers are less likely to know the party affiliation of the politician(s) involved.