Four, count them, four ABCNews.com reporters hacked out a three-page April 30 article for the alphabet network's Web site that dealt with new steamy text messages between Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his then-chief-of-staff Christine Beatty. Kilpatrick, indicted on twelve criminal counts including perjury and obstruction of justice, could see time in prison thanks to these text messages which would prove he lied under oath about his affair with Beatty.
Here's how the Kwame Quartet of Vicki Mabrey, David W. Scott, Mary-Claude Foster and Katie Escherich opened their story:
More steamy text messages sent between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff reveal intimate details about their relationship, and further indicate the mayor played a part in the dismissal of a police officer whose lawsuit brought their affair to light.
On Monday night, the CBS Evening News failed to identify Kwame Kilpatrick as a Democrat in reporting criminal charges filed against the Detroit Mayor, but on Friday night the same anchor, Harry Smith, used the very first word, of his introduction to a story on another politician in criminal trouble, to name the party:
Republican Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona goes on trial next month, charged with using his office to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. He denies breaking any laws, but the indictment spells out a string of alleged dirty deals.
A little under two years ago, then-CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer avoided the party affiliation of a Democratic Congressman in introducing a Monday, May 22, 2006 story:
The government says FBI agents videotaped Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson taking $100,000 in cash from an informant and later found $90,000 in his home freezer. But Jefferson said today he will not resign from Congress and he said he thought it inappropriate for the FBI to search his Capitol office this weekend. To the surprise of some, the Senate Republican leader said he too has concerns about the search.
Picking up where the broadcast network evening news shows of last night and yesterday's ABC's Good Morning America left off, Tuesday's "Today" show failed to note the party affiliation of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. NBC News' Natalie Morales had a total of three opportunities to mention that Kilpatrick was a Democrat but failed to do so in two news briefs and one introduction to a Michelle Kosinski story about the mayor's indictment. The show's graphic department also failed to slap a (D) next to Kilpatrick's name simply labeling Kilpatrick as "Detroit Mayor."
The following segment, as it occurred on the March 25 "Today", was typical of the show's Kilpatrick coverage:
NATALIE MORALES: Today Detroit's mayor is facing arraignment on 12 felony charges including perjury. The charges come amid allegations of sex, lies and text messages. More now from NBC's Michelle Kosinski.
[On screen headline: "Indicted, Detroit Mayor Facing Felony Charges"]
MICHELLE KOSINSKI: The mayor in a mug shot. Kwame Kilpatrick was the youngest mayor Detroit ever elected. He once talked about turning the Motor City around. Now the storm of allegations against him of corruption, cover-ups and sexually explicit text-messages has swirled into an indictment.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Khym Worthy, the prosecutor in the perjury case against Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and asked about sexually explicit text messages that proved Kilpatrick lied under oath about having an affair: "We know that in these thousands of text messages they talk about being madly in love and dreaming of spending days making love. But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
Worthy explained that there was vast amounts of other evidence in addition to the text messages and that there were other crimes involved. Rodriguez was incredulous: "Do you really believe someone would go so far to cover up an affair?"
Rodriguez also went on to portray Kilpatrick as the victim of selective prosecution when she asked Worthy: "And so what -- I mean, yesterday you spent 24 minutes when you made this announcement scolding the Mayor for lying. He faces 15 years in prison for perjury alone. Are you trying to make an example?"
Here at NewsBusters yesterday, Brent Baker, Ken Shepherd, and Scott Whitlock noted now the TV networks, with rare exception, avoided calling indicted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick a Democrat.
On the print and online side of Old Media, the Associated Press also avoided identifying Kilpatrick's party (HT to an anonymous e-mailer). This follows on the heels of another such example almost a week ago.
AP writer Corey Williams, in a 400-plus word article carried at Breitbart and posted just before noon yesterday, missed clear opportunities in at least the first, second, and sixth paragraphs of his report to tell readers that Kilpatrick is a Democrat:
Two weeks since the ABC and NBC evening shows took multiple days before getting around to informing viewers that disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer belonged to the Democratic Party -- after every ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news program last year immediately highlighted the party of Republican Senators David Vitter and Larry Craig -- Monday's broadcast network evening newscasts all failed to note, verbally or on-screen, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's party.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News: “Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged today with felonies that could cost him his job and 15 years in prison.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams relayed how “Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick...was indicted on perjury and other charges in the wake of a sex scandal there.” (NBC also refused to tag Kilpatrick in a full story aired Friday night.) Over on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith introduced a full story: “In Detroit, a sex scandal led to criminal charges today against the Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, a married father of three.”
Earlier today, Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick conducted a news conference with his lawyer wherein he gave a brief statement pledging to stay in office and fight the perjury charges leveled against him. As Detroit Free Press columnist Bill McGraw noted today, Kilpatrick has the dubious honor of being the first Detroit mayor to be charged with a crime while in office.
That news conference happened shortly before 1 p.m. At the time I channel-surfed through CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News and I later reviewed the video from all three to confirm my observation: Of all three news networks, only CNN tagged Kilpatrick with its onscreen graphic as a Democrat (see screencap at right).
Fox News Channel labeled Kilpatrick as "Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit Mayor." MSNBC opted for "Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit." CNN tagged the alleged perjurer onscreen as "Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, (D) Detroit."
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo somehow managed to make it through an entire segment on Kwame Kilpatrick, the scandal-ridden Democratic mayor of Detroit, without mentioning his political affiliation (other than a brief, non-verbal video graphic). Cuomo described Kilpatrick as the "beleaguered mayor," a "prominent politician," and, simply, "the mayor."
In contrast, while GMA's report on Kilpatrick was a rather straight forward recitation of the facts, the morning program wondered in August of 2007 if Senator Larry Craig's bathroom scandal could spell doom for the Republican Party. On August 28, 2007, guest co-host Bill Weir gravely wondered, "Is the GOP losing its grip?"
The week after it took the NBC Nightly News until the fourth day of coverage to inform viewers that disgraced then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat, Friday's NBC Nightly News ran a full story on the scandalous behavior surrounding Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, but never identified his political party. Naturally, given the lack of a party identification by the mainstream media journalists, he's a Democrat. Anchor Brian Williams set up the story:
The city of Detroit is in a crisis over government and leadership. The current Mayor is just the latest Detroit Mayor elected on a promise to clean up and revitalize the city. Now he's been caught in a sex scandal, a trail of electronic messages reportedly provides the evidence, it threatens his career and then some.
Reporter Kevin Tibbles, also sans any mention of a party affiliation, outlined:
The Detroit city council votes overwhelmingly to ask the Mayor to resign. 37-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick, in his second term of the Mayor of the Motor City, is mired in financial, political, and personal scandal, but refuses to budge.
The media just won't identify Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's party or his high-powered political connections, now that he is knee-deep in scandals. This March 19 New York Times article is no different. Recently, 14,000 text messages were discovered that indicate he lied under oath in a whistleblower trial to avoid admitting he used his police security detail to cover up an affair with his female chief of staff.
The NYT also didn't mention that, as the son of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), the mayor was a Democratic rising star. He spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and more importantly, as Vice President of the Conference of the Democratic Mayors, Kilpatrick will be a Barack Obama* [Update: Kilpatrick has not committed to Obama] superdelegate at the 2008 convention. Resigning as mayor could affect his superdelegate status. Considering the tight race, isn't this news?
A few days before Eliot Spitzer went down in flames, a highly-connected Barack Obama* [Update: Kilpatrick has not committed to Obama] superdelegate was mired in accusations of corruption, bid-rigging and a dead-stripper sex scandal. Usually the media love to report the downfall of party bigwigs, but not in the case of Detroit's youngest mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Much of the media downplayed the mayor's scandals and did not report his party, let alone his status as a Democratic power player who can influence the election.
Kwame, who is the son of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), is not just any mayor. He was a Democratic rising star, who spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is the superdelegate to the 2008 convention thanks to his position as Vice President of the Conference of Democratic Mayors.
But now “The First Hip Hop Mayor” is in serious trouble, with members of the city council calling for his resignation. Controversy has engulfed his two terms, and the latest bout involves a report that his wife assaulted a now-dead stripper whose shooting is still unsolved. At the same time, the mayor's longtime pal Bobby Ferguson won at least $45 million in city contracts while reportedly receiving inside information from Kilpatrick and his chief of staff.
The Washington Post carried the usual double standard on political ethics – highlight the party affiliation of the Republican, bury the party affiliation of the Democrat – all in one edition of the paper on Saturday. In the Metro section (page B-5), the headline proclaimed: "GOP’s McKee Resigns After Home Is Searched" (for child pornography). On the front page of Style (page C-1), a story on Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s adultery and lying was headlined, "In Detroit, Not Exactly LOL LOL! His Steamy Text Messages Turn Up the Heat on Motown’s Young Mayor."
Whenever a Republican gets caught in a sex scandal the GOP party affiliation is permanently affixed to that person's name in the media - think most recently of Larry Craig and Rudy Giuliani. However when it comes to labeling Democratic politicians caught in affairs, reporters often suffer from brief bouts of amnesia. Such was the case on the Thursday "Today" show where co-host Ann Curry forgot to note the party affiliation of the Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in her report on his recent ordeals:
See if you can spot the (D) label in the following January 31 "Today" show story:
On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," reporter Dan Harris covered the growing sex scandal of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and, at the same time, skipped the fact that he is a Democrat. The story, which has, thus far, been ignored by both NBC and CBS's morning shows, relates to testimony Kilpatrick gave in the summer of 2007 when he denied having an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and of using security to cover up the relationship. (14,000 just discovered text messages between the mayor and Beatty tend to refute the Mayor's statement.)
During Harris's segment, the GMA correspondent described the embattled politician who, prior to the scandal, was "considered a talented politician with a very bright future" in apolitical terms. Other than a brief, onscreen graphic, he didn't verbally mention Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation. Harris also brought up related examples of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco's Gavin Newsom, both of whom are Democrats. (Those facts also went unspoken.) In contrast, a 2006 Media Research Center study found that the three networks of ABC, CBS and NBC filed 150 stories in less than a two week period about Republican Mark Foley and his sex scandal.
Well, now Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) is facing mounting pressure to resign for pretty much the same thing: lying about sex under oath in a legal proceeding. While I'm personally curious whether any Democrats, particularly those supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president will come forward and defend Kilpatrick -- you know, urging him to stay in office and fight to "work for the people of Detroit" -- the more immediate concern here at NewsBusters is, are the media noting or ignoring Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation?
The answer so far? No, at least not the Associated Press. Reporter Corey Williams failed to mention Kilpatrick's party affiliation, although Williams did note Kilpatrick faces similar legal problems as Clinton:
Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick was at age 31 the youngest elected Mayor in the history of Detroit, the Motor City. Now, at 38, he is also the Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors as well as that organization's representative to the Democratic National Committee. He also seems to have a problem with appropriate behavior... then lies about it to try to cover it up. But one thing he doesn't seem to have to worry about is the MSM telling people he's a Democrat!
In a series of articles with ongoing coverage the Detroit Free Press reveals the attempted cover-up of an affair between Mayor Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty.