Few "Democrat" Labels for Disgraced Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

The New York Times has run up a disgraceful record of disclosing the political party affiliation of recently jailed Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Even though Kilpatrick, who isfacing trial for perjury and obstruction of justice,is Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, the Times, along with the rest of the mainstream media, has been loath to label him a Democrat.

Here's a detailed rundown of 15 relevant stories from the Times since the troubles that ultimately led to Mayor Kilpatrick's indictment and recent incarceration began in January 2008:

  1. January 26 ("Mayor's Amorous Texts Lead to Perjury Inquiry") - Kilpatrick was not ID'd as a Dem, but in the ninth paragraph, his mother was ("Mr. Kilpatrick's mother, Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Democrat of Michigan, is chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus .....").
  2. January 29 ("Aide Linked to Detroit Mayor Will Step Down") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  3. February 9 ("Document's Disclosure Adds to Scandal Over Detroit Mayor") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  4. February 28 ("Detroit Mayor Loses Fight Over Secret Papers") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  5. February 29 ("Latest Troubles Put Detroit Mayor's Job at Risk") - The story's fifth paragraph noted Kilpatrick's speaking roles at the 2000 and 2004 Democratic National Conventions, which is a de facto, if not totally direct, party identification.
  6. March 5 ("Detroit City Council Delays Vote on Resolution Urging the Mayor to Step Down") - Kilpatrick wasn't ID'd as a Dem, but Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was, in a way that almost made it appear as if she's not affiliated with the same party as Kilpatrick.
  7. March 14 ("Pressure Rises in Detroit For Mayor to Quit Quickly") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  8. March 19 ("Stalemate in Detroit: City Council Asks Mayor to Resign, but He Refuses to Go") - Kilpatrick wasn't ID'd as a Dem, but City Council member Monica Conyers, the only Council member who voted against a resolution calling on the Mayor to resign, was.
  9. March 25 ("Mayor of Detroit Faces 8 Counts in Perjury Case") - The story's fifth paragraph recounted that Kilpatrick "once drew note from Democratic Party leaders as a young politician to watch." No form of the word "indict" appears anywhere in the report.
  10. March 28 ("Backers [One Fewer Than Thought] Act to Aid Detroit Mayor") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  11. April 15 ("Detroit City Council Snubs Mayor as Impasse Persists") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  12. April 30 ("Detroit Mayor's Messages To Ex-Aide Are Released") - No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere.
  13. May 14 ("Detroit City Council Votes to Request Removal of Mayor by Governor") - Reporter Nick Bunkley said in the story's fourth paragraph that "Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm - a Democrat, like Mr. Kilpatrick - has the authority to remove public officials, though that power has rarely been used."
  14. August 8 ("Judge Orders Detroit Mayor Jailed") - No one's party affiliation is mentioned anywhere, including that of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Update by Clay Waters:

15. August 9 ("Detroit Mayor Charged With Assaulting Officer") - Kilpatrick's party affiliation was not mentioned anywhere, yet Michigan's Attorney General Mike Cox was identified as a Republican: "Mr. Cox, a Republican who is widely expected to run for governor in 2010, rejected a reporter's suggestion that he was not impartial on the matter."

The final tally of the 15 stories is as follows:

  • No one's party affiliation was mentioned anywhere in eight of them.
  • A Republican's party affiliation, but not Kilpatrick's, is mentioned in one of them.
  • Other people are identified as Democrats, but not Kilpatrick, in three of them.
  • There are only three clear references to Mr. Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation. In each case, readers needed four or more paragraphs to get to the party reference.

That's a pretty poor performance, especially considering the fact that the Times has more international reach than the US TV networks.

Cross-posted at Newsbusters and BizzyBlog.

- Tom Blumer is president of a training and development company in Mason, Ohio, and is a contributing editor to NewsBusters