Bruce Bartlett
One of the things that drives Republicans crazy is the media’s enormous double-standard in how it covers various scandals. While day after day we read on the front pages about how awful it was that a Republican congressman played golf with some lobbyist—as if that is the epitome of unethical behavior—cases of actual criminality by Democrats are buried on the back pages.

For example, on Jan. 12, the New York Times ran yet another article on page one linking Rep. Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, along with two columns about Abramoff on the inside pages. There was absolutely nothing new in any of these articles.

That same day, however, there was real news about a former aide to Rep. William Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana, who pleaded guilty the day before to bribing the congressman. The aide, Brett Pfeffer, said that his former boss had demanded a stake in Pfeffer’s business in return for his support. He also alleged that Jefferson had insisted that two of his relatives be put on Pfeffer’s payroll.

Apparently, the FBI has been investigating Jefferson for some time. It has raided his home and wired conversations with him in a sting operation.

So how did the Times handle this hot news? It appeared on page 28. Moreover, the Times couldn’t even be bothered to have one of its own reporters look into the case and instead ran Associated Press wire copy.

Also on Jan. 12, on page five of the second section, the Times reported that a state assemblyman who had formerly headed the Brooklyn Democratic Party was sentenced to jail a day earlier for receiving illegal contributions. The assemblyman, Clarence Norman Jr., faces other charges as well.

On Jan. 23, the Times reported that former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell is on trial for receiving payoffs of $150,000 from companies doing business with the city, as well as $100,000 in illegal campaign contributions and other gratuities. This article appeared on page 12.

Nowhere in the article was Mr. Campbell’s political affiliation mentioned. I had to do an Internet search to discover that he is a Democrat. Yet the article had plenty of space to discuss at some length what a great mayor Campbell had been.

I’m not saying that these stories should necessarily have been front-page news. But it does seem suspicious when news about Democratic corruption is systematically buried on the back pages, while the front page carries yet another rehash of the DeLay/Abramoff connection containing nothing new.


Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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