In the hours after Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and tax evasion and subsequently announced his resignation from the House of Representatives, Fox News and MSNBC devoted scant coverage to the unfolding story. A Media Matters for America review of the first four hours of the three cable news networks' coverage following Cunningham's pleas and resignation revealed that Fox News was the last to cover the story, mentioned it the fewest times, and devoted the least time to the story. MSNBC also offered limited coverage, reporting on the resignation only twice.
Cunningham entered his plea early in the afternoon and announced his resignation at a press conference held during the 2 p.m. hour. From 1 to 5 p.m. ET, CNN reported on the story five times, at least once per hour (1:49 p.m., 2:25 p.m., 3:31 p.m., 4:15 p.m., and 4:35 p.m.) for a total of 17 minutes of coverage. MSNBC reported on the story twice (at 2:32 p.m. and 3:16 p.m.) for a total of four minutes. Fox News covered the story only once (at 3:38 p.m.) for a total of three minutes.
Prior to his resignation, Cunningham sat on the House Appropriations Committee, occupying a position on the committee's Defense subcommittee. He pleaded guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for helping defense contractor MZM Inc. secure Department of Defense contracts.