Nets Fail to ID Party of Pols Arrested in NJ; CNN Misleads Its Viewers
Continuing a well-established pattern, the broadcast network evening newscasts all failed to point out the party affiliation of the major New Jersey office-holders amongst the 44 people the FBI arrested Thursday for corruption. As the AP pointed out, all but one are Democrats: "Among the 44 people arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus, Jersey City's deputy mayor, and two state assemblymen. A member of the governor's cabinet resigned after agents searched his home, though he was not arrested. All but one of the office holders are Democrats."
Nonetheless, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Deborah Feyerick saw a bi-partisan scandal. In the 5 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room, though five of the six elected officials (including all three mayors and the deputy mayor) are Democrats, Blitzer announced: "Dozens of public figures, including mayors, are caught in a stunning corruption sweep. They belong to both major parties." From Newark, Feyerick reported "nearly 30 politicians and public officials, Democrats and Republicans, were rounded up in what prosecutors called the largest sweep of its kind."
On CBS, reporter Kelly Wallace noted: "This is all part of a ten-year public corruption investigation that has already yielded two other high-profile indictments. Officials say some politicians don't seem to be getting the message." Neither have the media about reporting party affiliation as both of those earlier "high-profile indictments" were of Democrats: Former state Senator Wayne Bryant and Assemblyman Joseph Vas.
FNC's Bret Baier, however, managed to start his item on Special Report: "The Democratic mayors of three New Jersey cities..."
The Newark Star-Ledger relayed which party the arrests most-impacted:
The case had immediate political ramifications, particularly for Democrats in Hudson County and the administration of Gov. Jon Corzine. By the end of the day, Joe Doria Jr., the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, abruptly resigned from his cabinet post after his Trenton office and his home in Bayonne were searched by the FBI.
How the ABC, CBS and NBC anchors introduced their July 23 full stories on the corruption arrests, as compiled by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: And we jump across the country to the state of New Jersey. That state has a long history of corruption. Today it got longer. Federal agents fanned out in massive raids, rounding up mayors, assemblymen, other public officials, even rabbis. The sweeping arrests cap a two-year investigation with allegations that are stunning even by New Jersey standards. Here's Pierre Thomas.
CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Now to a major corruption case in New Jersey. Forty-four people were arrested in a federal sting today, including three mayors and five rabbis. Kelly Wallace says the allegations include everything from bribery to selling organ.
NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: A huge roundup in New Jersey this morning, and tonight, nearly four dozen people - including three city mayors and two state legislators - are under arrest. Charges here include bribery, money laundering, and no one has seen anything quite like this case. The story tonight from our Justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Newark Star-Ledger's online section devoted to the arrests.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center