Media Coverage Of Sexual Indiscretion: Let’s Play “Guess The Political Party”

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Politicians frequently get in trouble with the law. Corruption and sexual indiscretions are top reasons. Think Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton.  Illinois governors are prime example, with 4 of the last 7 being sent to prison.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray is in hot water over “accusations from three men that Murray sexually abused them in the 1980s.” I’m always a bit skeptical over decades old claims, whether against a Democrat big city mayor or a presidential candidate calling a beauty pageant contestant “Miss Piggy.”

Did I say Murray was a Democrat? It’s logical given that he is the elected leader of the “People’s Republic of Seattle” but how did I know since it wasn’t stated in the news stories? Actually it was easy, as I will explain.

ABC News described Mayor Murray’s past sexual hijinks without disclosing his political party affiliation. There were a few clues in the article; that the Mayor was “a warrior for core Democratic values” and mention of “fellow Democrats.” One could say the same about Senators McCain or Collins, who are not Democrats, but on occasion are also “warriors for core Democratic values.” But the article said nothing of the mayor’s political party.

How about The New York Times, the “paper of record” for “all the fake news that’s fit to print”? They too covered the Mayor Murray story and not once does the word “Democrat” appear. Just a flashy headline, “Seattle Mayor Denies Sex Abuse Claims Made in Lawsuit” and nothing about whether he is a Democrat or a Republican.

Perhaps the British tabloids are more objective. The Daily Mail often covers stories the mainstream media in the US chooses to overlook, but they too seemed to miss the party affiliation of the randy Seattle mayor. No mention of the word “Democrat” except in the reader comments section after the article.

Time to play compare and contrast. Let’s see how the media covers similar stories about Republicans.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley resigned this week over concealing an affair with a legislative aide. The Washington Post, in their first sentence, made sure its readers know the disgraced governor was a Republican with this opening, “Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R).”

Partner in fake news crime, The New York Times, showing slightly more restraint, waited until the third paragraph to say the disgraced governor was a Republican.

Remember former Idaho Senator Larry Craig? I don’t recall any significant legislation from the Senator. Instead his claim to fame is popularizing the term “wide stance” which made it into the Urban Dictionary based on his defense of his restroom stall antics. To be fair, a former US president is also in the Urban Dictionary under the term, “Bill Clinton Special” which you can look up if you so choose.

The New York Times covered the Senator Craig story with the leading sentence, “Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho, was arrested in June by an undercover police officer in a men’s bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.” Diligent journalism. Giving us the “who, what, where, when” of reporting all in the first sentence, including the political affiliation of the perp. Just like with Mayor Murray. Or not.

Want to bet how the first sentence of the article might read of Senator Craig was a Democrat? “Senator Larry Craig, (blank) of Idaho, was arrested.”

Another example is the former “hip hop” mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick. One can safely assume that a city like Detroit would have a Democrat mayor. Their last Republican mayor was over 60 years ago, long before Detroit descended into third world status.

Mayor Kwame had quite the time in office, rivaling Bill Clinton. Strippers, a mysterious murder, hookers, a sexting scandal, slander, funneling money to his wife, preferential hiring of friends and family, abuse of power, tax evasion and fraud. All leading to his resignation and incarceration.

Politico covered his 2013 trial. Not until the second to last paragraph did they happen to reveal the hip-hop mayor’s political party, “The Democrat spent 14 months in prison.” Who reads Politico articles to the very end?

The Huffington Post covered the trial without mentioning the word Democrat. Only that he was a “former Detroit mayor.”

What’s the lesson here? Aside from the obvious that the mainstream media goes to extreme lengths to bury or ignore bad news regarding their Democratic Party allies, while eagerly reporting similar news about Republicans.

The punchline is that to understand news articles covering the misdeeds of politicians is that if said politician is a Republican, you will know if from either the headline or the first few sentences. If you see no mention of a political party, odds are it’s a Democrat. Sometimes what isn’t said is more important than what is.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook  and Twitter.