CNN has barely covered the corruption trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, despite providing extensive coverage of former Republican Senator Ted Steven’s corruption trial back in 2008, a study from the Media Research Center has found.
The study, which analyzed the network’s coverage of both corruption trials, found that in the first three weeks of Ted Steven’s trial, CNN aired 36 stories about the trial, compared to just seven stories for Menendez in the exact same time period.
Menendez, who is the senior Democratic Senator from New Jersey, is accused of taking bribes worth $60,000 from Dr. Salomon Melgen, his alleged ‘patron,’ in exchange for political favors, dating back to his first year in office.
Meanwhile, Stevens, who represented Alaska, was accused of failing to properly report gifts amounting to $250,000 and was found guilty after a three-month trial. However, the conviction was later dismissed before sentencing after it emerged that the prosecution had conspired to withhold and conceal evidence that could have found Stevens not guilty.
Despite other events currently dominating the news agenda, such as natural disasters, the escalation of tensions with North Korea and the Trump presidency, the trial of Ted Steven’s also took place at the height of the financial crisis, as well as the final stretch of the 2008 presidential campaign.
Furthermore, NewsBusters points out that the charges against Menendez are in fact more severe, given that Steven’s simply failed to report gifts used for home renovations, while Menendez allegedly sold political favors in exchange for money.
However, during their scant coverage of the Menendez trial, CNN hosts have admitted on air that a lot is at stake. This is heightened by the fact that if there is a conviction, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be responsible for appointing his replacement.
“At stake: a lot,” CNN Newsroom co-anchor Poppy Harlow said on September 25. “And it is huge. Not just for the senator, but if Menendez is found guilty, he would be the first senator to be convicted in corruption charges in decades. And if he leaves his seat within the next four months, well, Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey would pick his replacement, likely flipping that blue seat to red. So this is high stakes.”