Rosen asserted media "always" states party affiliation of troubled Republicans; record shows otherwise

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Discussing a lawsuit filed against a Democratic South Dakota state senator, Mike Rosen on October 4 claimed that the media "always" identifies the political affiliation of Republicans accused of wrongdoing, but "if he's a Democrat they don't mention what party he's associated with." However, Colorado Media Matters has documented numerous occasions when Colorado media have omitted the party affiliation of Republican elected officials accused of wrongdoing.

After reading from what he said was an Associated Press article about a lawsuit accusing a South Dakota state senator of sexual assault, Mike Rosen on his October 4 Newsradio 850 KOA broadcast asked his listeners, "What's left out?" He answered, "[W]hat's left out is that state Senator Dan Sutton of Flandreau is a Democrat," then went on to assert that in the so-called "liberal media ... somebody involved in something like this, an embarrassing episode, is always identified as a Republican if he's a Republican; if he's a Democrat they don't mention what party he's associated with." Rosen read from an article, datelined "Fort Pierre, South Dakota," that noted the lawsuit but did not give Sutton's political affiliation. However, at least one version of an October 2 AP article about the case that was carried by numerous media outlets in South Dakota and elsewhere identified Sutton as a Democrat.

Furthermore, as Colorado Media Matters has repeatedly noted (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), on numerous occasions the Colorado media have omitted the party affiliation of Republican elected officials accused of wrongdoing.

Although Rosen did not identify where he viewed the AP article he read on the air, a version of the October 2 article posted on the website of Bismarck, North Dakota's CBS affiliate, KXMB CBS12, did not include Sutton's party affiliation. An October 4 post by Warner Todd Huston on the conservative Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog also linked to KXMB's initial version of the AP article that Rosen apparently read on the air. Making a generalization similar to Rosen's about "the liberal media," Huston concluded, "One thing is sure, I personally have never seen a lawmaker misconduct story where the perp... I mean pol... in question is a Republican without his party affiliation being mentioned." (Colorado Media Matters previously noted an instance of Rosen having echoed a misleading NewsBusters posting in order to allege bias on the part of the so-called "liberal media.")

However, later on October 2, KXMB updated its website to provide a version of the same AP article that identified Sutton as a Democrat.

After reading the earlier version of the AP article during his October 4 show, Rosen asked his listeners, "What's left out?" before answering, "[W]hat's left out is that state Senator Dan Sutton of Flandreau is a Democrat." Rosen added, "Given the Larry Craig context -- and this is so typical of the liberal media -- somebody involved in something like this, an embarrassing episode, is always identified as a Republican if he's a Republican; if he's a Democrat they don't mention what party he's associated with. There you go."

Although Rosen read, "State Senator Dan Sutton of Flandreau has been sued for $250,000 in damages by former legislative page Austin Wiese, who alleges Sutton groped him in a motel room in Fort Pierre," the later version of the article on the KXMB website identified Sutton as a Democrat:

A former legislative page filed a lawsuit today, alleging that state Senator Dan Sutton, a Flandreau Democrat, sexually fondled him last year in the motel room they shared in Fort Pierre.

In addition to KXMB, several other media outlets published the AP article noting Sutton's political affiliation, including The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Sioux City, Iowa, NBC affiliate KTIV News Channel 4; The Rapid City Journal (South Dakota); The Bismarck Tribune (accessed through the Nexis database); MSNBC; and The Miami Herald. In addition, October 3 articles by The Capital Journal of Pierre, South Dakota, and United Press International (UPI) identified Sutton as a Democrat.

Furthermore, in contrast to Rosen's generalization that the media "always" identify the political affiliation of Republicans accused of wrongdoing but not that of Democrats, Colorado Media Matters has documented numerous examples of the Colorado media neglecting to report the affiliation of several Republican elected officials:

  • Several local media outlets repeatedly omitted the party affiliation of Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers, who was accused of official misconduct in October 2006 and censured in December 2006. News outlets again failed to identify Chambers as a Republican after the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation launched another investigation in May.
  • During their January 29 evening broadcasts, KUSA 9News and KMGH 7News both reported on the grand jury indictment of former Jefferson County treasurer Mark Paschall. Yet none of the three reports from the two affiliates, including an in-depth investigation by 9News' Paula Woodward, mentioned that Paschall -- who, as 9News noted, had a controversial career as an elected public servant -- is a member of Colorado's Republican Party. The reports also did not mention that Paschall served four terms as a Republican state representative from his Arvada district.
  • Reporting on accusations that Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Congrove "ordered investigations of current and former county employees, private citizens, fellow elected officials and an attorney involved in a federal lawsuit against him," February 8 and 16 Rocky Mountain News articles failed to identify Congrove as an elected Republican officeholder.
  • A February 25 editorial in The Denver Post about "political shenanigans" among three public officials in Jefferson County failed to state the Republican affiliation of two figures cited in the editorial -- former County Commissioner Rick Sheehan and Congrove -- and only indirectly noted the GOP affiliation of Paschall.
  • Reporting on July 30 that U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) "has been under investigation in connection to a renovation" of his Alaskan home and that federal agents are "focusing on records related to Stevens' relationship with a jailed oil field services contract [sic: contractor] who was part of a public corruption scandal," 7News anchor Anne Trujillo did not identify Stevens as a Republican. In fact, Stevens "is the longest-serving Republican in Senate history," according to a July 31 AP article.

Moreover, Colorado Media Matters has pointed out (here and here) that after repeatedly failing to note the Republican affiliation of Chambers, Paschall, and Congrove, the News (accessed through the paper's electronic edition) on February 22 identified former state Sen. Rob Hernandez, who was "arrested for investigation of burglary involving his own home," as a Democrat. Hernandez was cleared of trespassing charges on April 24.

Media Matters for America has also documented numerous instances of the national media neglecting to identify elected officials accused of malfeasance as Republicans. Recent examples include the following:

  • On the August 22 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer introduced a report by CNN Miami correspondent John Zarrella on an allegation that, in 2005, then-chairman of the House Transportation Committee Don Young (R-AK) changed the language of a $10 million earmark for Florida (also known as the "Coconut Road" project) in that year's federal transportation bill after the conference report had been passed by both the House and the Senate. However, neither Blitzer nor Zarrella identified Young as a Republican and neither noted that Republicans controlled Congress when Young allegedly made the change to the bill.
  • In an August 21 article on the rejection of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's appeal for a new trial on fraud and corruption charges, UPI failed to identify Ryan as a Republican.
  • On the August 8 edition of The Situation Room, congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin reported that the recently passed congressional ethics bill "was pushed by Democratic leadership in response to scandals involving Jack Abramoff and Congressmen Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney." Yellin, however, failed to identify either of the two former members of Congress as Republicans, nor did she identify Abramoff as a Republican lobbyist. Similarly, Media Matters noted that an August 6 USA Today editorial mentioned that "two high-profile House members went to jail in the past 17 months in scandals that never even piqued the interest of the current House ethics committee," but failed to identify the "two high-profile House members" -- Cunningham and Ney -- as Republicans.
  • Discussing the raid on Stevens' house, on the July 30 edition of The Situation Room, Blitzer noted that there have been "raids on other lawmakers' homes," adding: "William Jefferson, a Democratic Congressman from Louisiana, what did -- they found, what, $90,000 in cash in his freezer. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham out in California, he's serving jail time right now. We could go down the list." But while Blitzer identified Jefferson as a Democrat, he did not identify Cunningham as a Republican.
  • During the July 31 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, anchor Chris Cuomo reported that "FBI and IRS agents have visited the home of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens," adding, "The agents are reportedly focusing on records related to the Stevens[es]' relationship with a contractor jailed in a corruption investigation." But Cuomo did not identify Stevens as a Republican.

From the October 4 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:

ROSEN: Do we have time to get into -- and, oh, yeah, let me do this quickly. I'm going to read an Associated Press story. [reading] "Fort Pierre, South Dakota. State Senator Dan Sutton of Flandreau has been sued for $250,000 in damages by former legislative page Austin Wiese, who alleges Sutton groped him in a motel room in Fort Pierre. Wiese's lawsuit alleges two counts of sexual battery, one count of sexual assault. It's a civil lawsuit. No criminal charges have been filed. The suit claims that Sutton invited Wiese to stay with him at the motel during the 2006 session. Court documents say they shared the one bed in the room, and then on three nights in a row Sutton inappropriately touched and fondled Wiese, who then moved out of the room. Wiese, now 19, says he suffered mental anguish, shame, indignity, embarrassment, pain and suffering. He's being represented by former Congressman and Governor Bill Janklow. Early this year the state senate held a hearing on the allegations. The senate then voted to censure Sutton rather than expel him." That's the entire story. What's left out? It -- what's left out is that state Senator Dan Sutton of Flandreau is a Democrat. [laughs] Given the Larry Craig context -- and this is so typical of the liberal media -- somebody involved in something like this, an embarrassing episode, is always identified as a Republican if he's a Republican; if he's a Democrat they don't mention what party he's associated with. There you go. Right back on Newsradio 850 KOA. Ann Coulter joins us after the news.

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