- In March of last year (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in a story about late financial reports from Ohio's state government, Provance identified State Auditor Mary Taylor, who criticized Governor Ted Strickland's administration for being so tardy with the numbers that they could not be audited in time for biennial budget deliberations -- but never identified Strickland or anyone else involved in the snafu as a Democrat. NewsBusters commenter "Hoosierem reported that Provance, in response to a subsequent e-mail, had stated that "I should have taken the next step of noting the governor’s party."
- Then in May (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the slow-learning Blade reporter, in a story about the indictment of Anthony Gutierrez, a former aide to disgraced Democrat and former Attorney General Marc Dann (pictured at top right in a Blade photo), never named Guttierez's party -- but did name the party of the county prosecutor who indicted him.
Provance's latest exercise in Name That Party creativity (HT to Maggie Thurber in an e-mail) revolves around Dann's guilty pleas on Thursday to ethics violations. This time, he got in a "clever" dig about Republican scandals going back a half-decade in his opening sentence, but never specifically ID'd Dann as a Democrat, referring only to "a Democratic wave" and "fellow Democrats" -- in Paragraph 11.
The Associated Press's story roll-out on former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann's anticipated guilty pleas to ethics violations followed the usual script:
- The initial report, carried here at Cleveland.com, failed to mention Dann's Democratic Party affiliation.
- A later extended report breaks down and reveals Dann's party membership in its ninth of eleven paragraphs.
- Meanwhile, the local Columbus Dispatch, which would be less obligated to reveal Dann's party affiliation because its readership is more likely to already know it, told readers Dann is a Democrat in the second paragraph of its coverage.
The name of Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, doesn't show up anywhere in either entity's coverage.
Here is most of the AP's brief initial story by reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins:
(UPDATE: See circulation chart below.)
In early March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Toledo Blade Columbus Bureau reporter Jim Provance named the party of Ohio's Republican State Auditor Mary Taylor, who sharply criticized Democratic Governor Ted Strickland's serious lateness with the state's financial statements -- so late that they couldn't possibly be audited until after the Ohio General Assembly passes the budget for the two-year fiscal period that will begin on July 1.
Provance never named Strickland's or any other Democrat's party.
After that episode, NewsBuster commenter HoosierEm reported that Provance responded as follows to an e-mail complaint about his coverage of the Taylor-Strickland story:
I should have mentioned that the governor is a Democrat. I mentioned Ms. Taylor's party affiliation because she is of the opposite party of the person she is criticizing. Just a fact that should be put out there. I should have taken the next step of noting the governor's party."
Lesson learned, right? Hardly.
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.
As readers of NewsBusters are no doubt aware, we've tracked how the media have regularly refused to acknowledge the political party affiliation of indicted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D).
Well, today, Associated Press reporter Julie Carr Smyth did acknowledge Kilpatrick is a Democrat, albeit in a roundabout sort of way in an article about Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann being the latest in a series of Democrats to find themselves in legal hot water due to sexual indiscretion.
Oh, you've never heard of Dann? That may be because the Ohio AG's scandal lacks the tech savvy of text messages or the sleaze factor of high-priced call girls. But now that it appears that the nuclear option of impeachment may come into play, Time.com is picking up on AP's May 6 article:
Ohio's Old Media needs a collective medical intervention to battle Chronic Reporting Amnesia (CRA).
Ohio's Democratic Attorney General, who has been no stranger to controversy since his election in November 2006, is in major hot water over the conduct of two employees on his staff:
An attorney representing two women whose sexual harassment allegations have triggered a widening scandal at Attorney General Marc Dann’s office says his clients have abundant evidence of their claims.