Back when Democrats were rocked by an incredible spree of arrests over the course of just a few days, much was made of the media’s adamant refusal to disclose some of their party affiliations, especially when reporting on the arrest of Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon by the FBI in a corruption sting. Somehow numerous local and national media reports just plumb forgot to mention which party Cannon belonged to… which is especially odd, since the FBI recorded him making efforts to sell his close access to President Barack Obama.
And when it came to the absolutely astounding saga of California Democrat Leland Yee, perhaps the juiciest political story in years – a loudmouth gun-control advocate of national prominence, a key figure in the crusade to ban violent videogames, and a strong contender for California Secretary of State busted for conspiring with Chinese gangsters to sell machine guns and rocket launchers - CNN famously refused to report on the story at all. Hammered by critics for their refusal to so much as speak Leland Yee’s name, the network insisted his was a local story of no great significance. They even tried claiming they never report on the doings of state senators, a claim immediately blasted into a million pieces by citations of them running dozens of such reports over the years.
Well, now we’ve got Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) caught on video passionately smooching one of his aides. Good news: they’re married. Bad news: they’re married to other people. Let’s see how our scrupulously fair and balanced media handled the disclosure of McAllister’s party affiliation, shall we?
TIME: First word in the story is “Republican,” right in the boldfaced sub-heading. It’s also the second word in the story itself.
Politico: “GOP” is the second word in the story. We’re also told he “won in the heavily Republican district by playing up his conservative credentials, including his Christian faith and his 16-year marriage.” Sounds like Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, after the famous “60 Minutes” puff piece that saved him from an adultery scandal.
National Journal: “Republican” is the first word in the story.
USA Today: “Republican” is the first word in the headline.
CNN: McAllister’s story immediately exploded onto the front page of CNN’s website, which still has not run a single story on Leland Yee. First paragraph of the CNN story: “The husband of the woman caught making out with Rep. Vance McAllister said the Louisiana Republican destroyed his life and marriage.” They don’t even tell you what happened before they make sure you know it’s a Republican scandal. If McAllister had merely conspired with Chinese tongs to sell his aide a rocket launcher, he’d still be invisible to CNN reporters.
ABC News: gets to the second paragraph before telling you McAllister is a Republican, although his campaign support from the “Duck Dynasty” family is touted in the headline.
CBS News: Story begins “Rep. Vance McAllister, the married Republican congressman…”
NBC News: “Republican” is both in the headline and it’s the second word in the story.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with identifying the party affiliation of any politician in any news story, including the headline. It’s just funny how that so often doesn’t occur when it’s a scandalous story about a Democrat.
Update: Hey, what do you know? CNN.com just ran its very first story on Leland Yee, whose unbelievable story broke a week ago. So after a week of insisting they don’t run news stories on state senators, they suddenly decided to post something on this one. His party affiliation is disclosed… drum roll, please… in the fourth paragraph of the story.