All three networks on Thursday night and Friday morning highlighted the photographs of a gubernatorial candidate from Maryland at a teen party that featured underage teens and drinking. Yet, ABC failed to mention that Doug Gansler, the top tier candidate, is a Democrat.
ABC featured the most aggressive coverage. Reporter Jim Avila confronted the "would-be governor." While showing a photo that "Maryland's top cop...would love to forget," the journalist narrated, "The attorney general, right in the middle of teenage partiers, celebrating their high school graduation." At no time did the report, which aired on World News andGood Morning America, refer to Gansler as a Democrat. [MP3 audio here .]
Despite ignoring party ID, Avila hit Gansler hard. While a picture of the candidate, apparently gawking at a teen girl grinding against a boy, appeared onscreen, the journalist insinuated, "A second picture appears to show the would-be governor staring at more than his phone."
CBS This Morning opened a story on him with a Democratic label. Journalist Jeff Pegues immediately explained, "Douglas Gansler is a Democrat running for governor here in the State of Maryland." At the close of the segment, Pegues also mentioned Gansler's a opponent, "also a Democrat."
NBC's Today on Friday referred to him as "the attorney general of Maryland." Journalist Pete Williams observed, "This has become an issue not just because Doug Gansler is running for governor, he's also state attorney general and underage drinking is illegal."
Although the journalists on Today skipped a Democratic label on Friday, they did briefly mention it on Thursday.
A transcript of the October 25 GMA segment, which aired at 7:11am ET, follows:
AMY ROBACH: Well, Maryland's attorney general, who is running for governor, now admits he made a mistake by not stopping teenagers from drinking at a beach party. ABC's Jim Avila confronted him about the pictures and the firestorm.
JIM AVILA: A photo Maryland's top cop, Doug Gansler, would love to forget and never wanted in the Baltimore Sun. The attorney general, right in the middle of teenage partiers, celebrating their high school graduation.
DOUG GANSLER: There may have been some college students or others drinking beer. I just don't know. I should have assumed there was drinking going on and I got that wrong.
AVILA: Some at the Delaware Shore's beach week party admit to underage drinking. Yet, this would-be governor in an interview with the Baltimore Sun questioned whether he had moral authority to stop them. He said no. Quite a different tune from this public service announcement.
GANSLER: Parents, you are the leading influence on your teen's decision not to drink.
AVILA: Did you set a good example, of going into a party, participating in a party.
GANSLER: What does that mean, participate? I'm walking through.
AVILA: No. It shows you taking a picture.
GANSLER: I did not take any pictures.
AVILA: Is that your hand on a cell phone taking a picture?
GANSLER: No. That's my hand. My guess is what I'm doing is reading a text.
AVILA: A second picture appears to show the would-be governor staring at more than his phone. [Picture of Gansler appearing to stare at a teen girl grinding on a guy.]
GANSLER: I should have probably been more observant and determine whether or not, you know, there was drinking going on.
AVILA: Jim avila, ABC news, Washington.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.