SoudernamethatpartySpitzerToday, the Associated Press generally did what is supposed to do when reporting on scandal-plagued politicians. Here are the first five paragraphs of the AP's brief report on Indiana Congressman Mark Souder's resignation announcement (link is dynamic and will probably be updated; "where's the worst one we can find?" picture of Souder at top right is via AP):


Here's the opening of the coverage at the New York Times's Caucus Blog (also subject to possible updates):

Former Congressman William Jefferson, the New Orleans Democrat with bribery cash hidden in his freezer, was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison, the longest-ever for a Member of Congress on a corruption charge -- yet the CBS Evening News didn't utter a word about it, just as that newscast ignored his August conviction, while ABC's World News didn't bother to mention his party affiliation.  

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted Jefferson's party in this short item: “Former Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson made headlines a while back when the FBI found $90,000 in cash hidden in his freezer. Today, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking bribes.”

ABC's Charles Gibson, however, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, failed to identify Jefferson as a Democrat: “Former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for his conviction on federal bribery charges. Authorities found $90,000 wrapped in foil in Jefferson’s freezer, part of the half million dollars prosecutors say he received for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.”

As if to insist that the broadcast networks shouldn't corner the market on "Name That Party" fun, CNN this morning joined in the fun when reporting on yesterday's conviction of former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) on 11 corruption charges.

Yet when reporting the story shortly after 9:30 a.m. EDT today, "CNN Newsroom" anchor Heidi Collins neglected to mention Jefferson's Democratic Party affiliation.

What's more, ten minutes earlier, neither Collins nor CNN producer Mike Ahlers mentioned the party affiliation of another ethically compromised Democrat, admitted adulterer John Edwards. The former one-term senator is under investigation for payments made by his political action committee to a former mistress.

Russ Mitchell, CBS Early Show, August 6 program | NewsBusters.orgOn Thursday, all three network morning news programs reported the conviction of former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson on bribery charges, but only NBC’s Today identified him as a Democrat. CBS’s Early Show and ABC’s Good Morning America simply referred to him as a "former congressman."

In contrast, Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News did not provide a Democratic label for Jefferson, while ABC’s World News did identify his party affiliation. The CBS Evening News made no mention of the conviction. While both Good Morning America and Today featured news briefs early in the 7AM ET hour on Thursday, The Early Show did not mention the story until early in the 8AM hour.

While CBS finally managed that single news brief Thursday morning, reporter Russ Mitchell framed the story in the context of Jefferson’s attorney appealing the decision: "A lawyer for former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson says he will appeal Jefferson’s conviction on 11 counts of bribery, racketeering, and money laundering." Neither Today nor Good Morning America mentioned the appeal.

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News devoted a full minute to the guilty convictions for bribery, racketeering and  wire fraud against former nine-term Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, but failed to name his political party.

ABC's Charles Gibson mentioned Jefferson's party in a brief World News item. The CBS Evening News didn't air anything about Jefferson's convictions which were announced just under an hour before the 6:30 PM EDT feeds of the newscasts shown in the eastern and central time zones, though Couric did manage to highlight how “Giants quarterback Eli Manning agreed today to a six-year deal for $97 million, making him the highest-paid player ever in the NFL.”

NBC considered the case important enough to send Pete Williams to the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia (just a few blocks from MRC HQ), but he didn't cite Jefferson's party and while anchor Brian Williams set up his colleague by referring to the “case of the cold, hard cash, money that was famously found in the freezer at the home of William Jefferson,” he identified Jefferson only as “a former Congressman from Louisiana.”

In the week since South Carolina’s Republican Governor announced he had flown to Argentina to carry on an extra-marital affair, the broadcast morning and evening news shows have gone full bore on the scandal, cranking out 49 stories even in the midst of other major stories like Michael Jackson’s death and the continuing repression in Iran.

The morning after Sanford announced his affair, on the June 25 Good Morning America, longtime correspondent Sam Donaldson used the scandal to broadly charge Republicans with being “sanctimonious. They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they [act] human, they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness.” Unlike when New York Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer was caught consorting with a prostitute in March 2008, all three broadcast networks immediately identified Sanford’s party ID.

A number of top Democrats are enmeshed in embarrassment or facing allegations of wrongdoing, but the networks have far less interest in publicizing those cases. A rundown of ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening coverage so far this year:

William Jefferson, who was found with $90,000 of cash in his freezer, is now on trial for 16 counts including racketeering, obstruction of justice, and money laundering.

The Washington Post's Allison Klein did a story on his trial today, but for some reason Klein failed to mention Jefferson's party identification.

Could it be, perhaps, because Jefferson was a Democrat while he was in office, before being defeated in the previous election cycle?  (UPDATED AGAIN)

Today's Chicago Tribune, taking a cue from its hero Barack Obama, gave bracketeering a try.  The contenders, all former Illinois and Louisiana public officials, were selected for a smackdown to determine the most disgraceful.

The rivals from Louisiana were former Governors Huey Long and Edwin Edwards, former Congressman William "Refrigerator" Jefferson, and former New Orleans City Council president Oliver Thomas (identified as Thomas Oliver by the newspaper.).  Weighing in from Illinois were former Governors George Ryan and Milorad "Call Me Rod" Blagojevich, former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and former Chicago alderman Arenda Troutman.

The Trib gave the nod to Edwin Edwards, although I think the competition was marred by not having an Illinois Daley in the competition.  Setting that aside, what was interesting is the Tribune didn't mention party affiliation in its bracketeering.  Seven of the eight contenders, or 87.5 percent, were Democrats.  Gee, what a surprise.

abc-logoWell, isn't THIS interesting.

In a December post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I reviewed ABC's online "The Faces of Political Scandal" slideshow, which featured mini-profiles of 14 politicians in recent years who have been tainted by scandal and/or crime.

At the time, I noted that:

Of the 14 politicians identified, seven are Democrats and seven are Republicans. Five of the seven GOP members are identified as such, while only two of the seven Democrats were flagged. The montage also has a couple of surprising factual errors.

Well, glory be, sometime in the past couple of months, ABC has made changes to the montage. Now each profile except for Bill Clinton's (which is excusable) identifies the politician's party. Additionally, two factual errors at the original profiles have been corrected. The year of Clinton's Lewinsky scandal which ultimately led to his acts of perjury and impeachment has been changed from 1995 to 1998, and an incorrect statement that sex-scandalized Florida Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney had conceded to GOP opponent Tom Rooney before Election Day last year has been removed.

Here's the lineup of the "Faces of Political Scandal," and how their status changed:

On Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ron Mott filed a report featuring incoming Republican Congressman Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, and the man who defeated corrupt former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson in heavily Democratic New Orleans. Brian Williams introduced Mott’s piece: "There was new ground broken on Capitol Hill today, where the first Vietnamese-American Congressman in the history of this republic was sworn in. Joseph Cao of Louisiana is also the first Republican in more than a century to win the seat representing New Orleans."

Mott recounted Cao’s escape from Vietnam and his victory against Jefferson, who was involved in a bribery scandal: "The 41-year-old Republican Congressman, Joseph Cao, is now a standout on Capitol Hill, traveling a very long way to get there. As a boy, he was among tens of thousands airlifted out of Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, without his parents, who feared he was killed at the airport. ... He later studied for the priesthood, eventually became a lawyer, and then last year, took on a political institution in New Orleans, Democrat William Jefferson, embroiled in a bribery scandal."

ABC logoA collection of "The Faces of Political Scandal," assembled by ABC News yesterday (HT to an e-mailer), once again demonstrates the media's relative reluctance to identify the membership of Democrats involved in scandal.

Of the 14 politicians identified, seven are Democrats and seven are Republicans. Five of the seven GOP members are identified as such, while only two of the seven Democrats were flagged. The montage also has a couple of surprising factual errors.

Here's the detail, slide by slide:

  1. Current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich -- Party not ID'd, while containing a quote with a Republican frame of reference ("Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a new low," U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. "This conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."). | photo via about.comUpdate at bottom of post: Williams responds (18:24 EDT)

I have to hand it to the AP this time. They actually noted the political party affiliation of another Democrat in legal hot water. So did and Reuters.

But for some reason, MSNBC's Pete Williams left out the party affiliation of Louisiana's Rep. William Jefferson (D) in this March 31 item at the First Read blog:

In something of a surprise, the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal involving the FBI's unprecedented search of the Capitol Hill offices of Congressman William Jefferson.

A federal appeals court ruled that the FBI wrongly used its own agents look through the material seized to determine what might be covered by congressional privilege. This is a considerable victory for Jefferson, largely validating his objections to the search and giving him certain bragging rights. But prosecutors claim they have sufficient evidence independent of the search. The cash in his freezer, for example, was found well before Jefferson's offices were searched.