Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Biased Reporting of Tom DeLay

Both CNN and Fox News ran stories about House majority leader Tom DeLay stepping down after being indicted. Biases are revealed in how they talk about the Democratic district attorney from Texas, Ronnie Earle, who indicted DeLay. In both articles Delay is quoted as calling Earle a “partisan fanatic.” However here is how each provided different information:

CNN: CNN’s article provides data on Earle’s public corruption cases which supports Earle’s position that he was not politically motivated. They offer little else from Delay’s perspective other than the “partisan fanatic” quote. It is possible that CNN may update their article later but here is what CNN said as of 6:30pm (PDT) on Wednesday:

At a news conference in Austin, Earle, a Democrat, declined to comment on any evidence he had linking DeLay to the alleged conspiracy.

Earle denied any partisan motivation, telling reporters that 12 of the 15 public corruption cases he has prosecuted involved Democrats. His record on high-profile corruption cases has been mixed.

"The law says that corporate contributions to political campaigns are illegal in Texas," he said. "The law makes such contributions a felony. My job is to prosecute felonies. I'm doing my job."

DeLay, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives since 2002, called Earle "a partisan fanatic."

FOX: Fox News, on the other hand gives much more information from DeLay’s perspective. They mention that more Democrats were indicted by Earle than Republicans but do not give the data. Here is some of what Fox said on the matter:

DeLay also accused Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is leading the investigation, of pursuing the case for political motives. Earlier, DeLay attorney Bill White told reporters, "It's a skunky indictment if they have one."

"In an act of blatant political partisanship, a rogue district attorney charged me with one count of conspiracy ... a reckless charge wholly unsupported by the facts. This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history and Mr. Earle knows it," DeLay said.

Calling Earle a "partisan fanatic," DeLay said Earle has a vendetta against DeLay and said he "is abusing the power of his office to exact personal revenge."

"I happen to have a copy of the indictment in my hand right here and I think the indictment has some problems," said Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, who said Earle pursued the indictment for three years and six grand juries because he knew that under House rules, there would be "instant punishment as the result of an indictment."

The indictment has "escalated politics into the courthouse," Carter told FOX News.

"This is a ham sandwich indictment and we just ask 'where's the beef?'" said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. "[Earle] just wants to harm Tom DeLay for being an effective Republican leader."

Kevin Madden, DeLay's spokesman, also dismissed the charge as politically motivated.

"This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat," Madden said, citing Earle.

"We regret the people of Texas will once again have their taxpayer dollars wasted on Ronnie Earle's pursuit of headlines and political paybacks."

Lott said it's no coincidence that Earle has a history of going after those in political office.

"We've got an active district attorney, a prosecutor that really wants to indict somebody," Lott told FOX News. "He can indict a ham sandwhich before most grand juries. When you look at the record of this prosecutor, I can't say I'm particularly surprised." …

Former Rep. Chris Bell, D-Texas, told FOX News that the DeLay indictment is "long overdue" and defended Earle, saying he has prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans during his career. "He's a fine, upstanding district attorney with a fine record," said Bell, who was defeated in a re-election bid last year after the state map was redistricted.

Links to the articles:,2933,170681,00.html


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