Yesterday fundraiser Norman Hsu was convicted of of illegally
funneling tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates,
including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal reported:
On Tuesday, a jury convicted Mr. Hsu of four counts of
campaign-finance fraud after about 2½ hours of deliberations. Each
count carries up to five years in prison.
The latest example of political corruption was met by much of the
mainstream media with a collective yawn. CNN mentioned it only twice.
The Situation Room featured CNN anchor T.J. Holmes briefly touching on the story:
Also, a name you might remember making some news again.
He gave money to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and
Barack Obama. And he was already found guilty for mail and wire fraud.
Well, today, Norman Hsu was convicted of violating campaign finance
laws. He was accused of getting donations from people, including from
celebrities, who funneled money that exceeded campaign finance rules to
Democratic campaigns. His sentencing is scheduled for August.
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, the host noted:
A top fund-raiser for the Democrats, Norman Hsu, today,
convicted of corruption. A New York jury found Hsu guilty of breaking
laws that restrict the amount of money an individual or group can
donate to a political party. Hsu raised more than $800,000 for Hillary
Clinton's presidential campaign, money that she later returned.
The lack of comprehensive coverage was notable, especially when
considering how CNN has treated other political scandals. On January
3, 2006, for example, lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to
conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion. CNN couldn't give its viewers
enough information on Abramoff, whose activities primarily targeted
So on Your World Today at 12:00 PM (ET), CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry reported live from outside the federal district court building. The following hour on Live From. . . , Henry spoke with anchor Kyra Phillips:
PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about how this scandal
could affect congressional elections, leadership in the House. What do
HENRY: That's the main event this year. As you know, the president's
no longer on the ballot. It's the midterm elections this coming
November. And the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and others have been making
this case they believe there's a culture of corruption in the
Republican Congress, which has now been in power since 1995.
Republicans, of course, reject that argument. But this is going to add
more fuel to the Democratic fire that, in fact, this was a Republican
super-lobbyist, mostly had contacts with high-profile Republican
leaders like Tom DeLay.
But again, I want to underline there are Democrats who have been
implicated here. So while Democrats are sort of feasting on this right
now, they may have some of their own lawmakers pulled down by this as
Henry again talked
with Phillips about the Abramoff story during the 3:00 PM segment of
Live From. . . The next hour on The Situation Room, anchor Wolf
Blitzer interviewed Ed Henry once again and then spoke with CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider, who identified two schools of thought on the matter:
SCHNEIDER: President Bush himself called Abramoff -- quote -- "an equal money dispenser to people in both political parties."
JACK ABRAMOFF, LOBBYIST: I have no choice but to assert my various constitutional privileges.
SCHNEIDER: The second school points out that most of Abramoff's
money seems to have gone to his fellow Republicans, including one very
high profile Republican. And even if voters turn against all
incumbents, Republicans have more at stake. Most incumbents in Congress
When asked in October which party in Congress would do a better job
dealing with corruption, Democrats held an 11-point advantage, not
because people believed Democrats are less corrupt, but because people
know Democrats are out of power and money follows power.
Still, Blitzer wasn't through talking about Abramoff. CNN Internet
reporter Abbi Tatton, correspondent Dana Bash, Democratic strategist
Bill Press, and Human Events editor Terry Jeffrey all had their say.
The next hour of The Situation Room included mention of Jack Abramoff
no fewer than 20 times.
At 6:00 PM, CNN host Jonathan Mann devoted
a full hour to the "Jack Abramoff Scandal" on Headline News. Lou Dobbs
Tonight at the same time included more than two dozen references to
Abramoff and featured senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and longtime
Democratic operative Stanley Brand.
Wolf Blitzer got back in the saddle during the 7:00 PM Situation Room, allotting plenty of time to the Abramoff story and coaxing from Democratic attorney Richard Ben-Veniste that, "This is the biggest scandal to come down the pike in a long, long time."
Both the Abramoff and Hsu scandals involved politicians at the
highest levels of government. Both involved huge contributions to
candidates. Both involved the possibility of lengthy jail sentences.
The disparity in coverage by CNN can't be explained away with a claim
that Abramoff's offenses were so much more serious than Hsu's that they
warranted wall to wall coverage for most of the news day while the Hsu
story merited merely two brief references.
One striking difference is that Hsu, unlike Abramoff, almost
exclusively favored Democrats with his artificial largess. Is it
possible - just possible - that could make a difference in CNN's
treatment of the stories?