Let’s play the old party game, Name That Party. Conservatives have long cried foul about the way the media apply party affiliations, those pesky (R)s and (D)s following a disgraced politician’s name. When the guilty politician is a Democrat the party is often omitted. This is not often the case when a Republican is guilty. This biased treatment is so common that it is often ignored. Tonight we have another example as the story broke that former Missouri governor and Columbia resident Roger Wilson, a Democrat, had been indicted and, facing the prospect of prison, pleaded guilty. The page 1 reportage of the Columbia Daily Tribune here – surprise - did not mention the former Governor’s party affiliation. Would it be a shock to learn that KOMU-TV, the University of Missouri journalism school’s television station, also did not mention Wilson’s party in their 6 o’clock news broadcast?
Journalists are aware of these complaints and use several stratagems to hide that fatal (D.) after the culpable’s name and yet claim there is no bias. One is to mention the word ‘Democrat’ further down in the story. This is effective as most people don’t get beyond the first few paragraphs. In an AP story of June 3, 2010 carried by the Columbia Tribune about the trial of Illinois Governor Blagojevich there never was a (D) after his name. Instead he was not referred to as a Democrat until the seventh paragraph. His predecessor, the also convicted ex-governor George Ryan, was fingered as a Republican the only time he was mentioned. Now, you ask, what does George Ryan have to do with Blagojevich? Good question. We suggest that if it is necessary to mention Illinois’s history of corruption in the Governor’s mansion, why stop with a Republican and not mention that Governor Ryan’s two predecessors in the hoosegow were both Democrats?
Another technique – done later in the story, of course – is to slip the word ‘Democrat’ into other contexts, suggesting, but not explicitly stating the unmentionable word in connection with the politico in question. Thus the Tribune’s story says that the illegal campaign finance contribution was to the Missouri Democrat party and Wilson’s family was involved in Democrat party politics. But the unmentionable Big D just would not come out.
A final note. There have been so many instances of this that it has an identifier, ‘Name that Party,’ created by Don Surber. Just search for “Name That Party” in Google or Bing and you will find all manner of delicious examples. One dealing with Governor Blagojevich is here. Another from one of our favorite websites is here. All this is a footnote in the book of media bias, a variation of 6% unemployment under Bush is a disaster, while 9% under Obama shows things are improving.