February 20, 2009

ABC’s Dec. ‘Scandal’ Montage Updated to Include Party IDs of All Except Bill Clinton

abc-logoWell, isn’t THIS interesting.

In a December post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I reviewed ABC’s online “The Faces of Political Scandal” slideshow, which featured mini-profiles of 14 politicians in recent years who have been tainted by scandal and/or crime.

At the time, I noted that:

Of the 14 politicians identified, seven are Democrats and seven are Republicans. Five of the seven GOP members are identified as such, while only two of the seven Democrats were flagged. The montage also has a couple of surprising factual errors.

Well, glory be, sometime in the past couple of months, ABC has made changes to the montage. Now each profile except for Bill Clinton’s (which is excusable) identifies the politician’s party. Additionally, two factual errors at the original profiles have been corrected. The year of Clinton’s Lewinsky scandal which ultimately led to his acts of perjury and impeachment has been changed from 1995 to 1998, and an incorrect statement that sex-scandalized Florida Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney had conceded to GOP opponent Tom Rooney before Election Day last year has been removed.

Here’s the lineup of the “Faces of Political Scandal,” and how their status changed:

  1. Then-current and now-former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich — Party was originally not ID’d; now the “Democrat” label is in the second sentence.
  2. Then-current and now-former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens — GOP affiliation immediately ID’d in both instances.
  3. New York Congressman Charles Rangel — Democratic Party immediately ID’d immediately ID’d both times.
  4. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick — Democratic Party affiliation originally not ID’d; now the “Democrat” label is in the second sentence.
  5. Former Florida Congressman Tim Mahoney — Democratic Party affiliation originally not ID’d. Now it is immediately (“D-Fla.”).
  6. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer — Democratic Party affiliation originally not ID’d. Now “the Democrat’s involvement in a prostitution ring” is in the first sentence.
  7. Former New York Congressman Vito Fossella — GOP affiliation was in the third sentence; now it’s in the first “R-N.Y,”).
  8. Former Ohio GOP Congressman Bob Ney — GOP affiliation ID’d immediately in both instances.
  9. Former Florida Congressman Mark Foley — GOP affiliation ID’d immediately in both instances.
  10. Former California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham — GOP affiliation originally not identified; now it is (“R-Calif.”).
  11. Then-current and now-former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson — Democratic Party affiliation ID’d immediately in both cases.
  12. Soon to be former Idaho Senator Larry Craig — GOP affiliation ID’d in first sentence in both cases.
  13. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan — GOP affiliation not originally ID’d; now “the Republican” affiliation is at the start of the second sentence.
  14. Former Democratic President Bill Clinton — No party ID’d in either instance. No problem there.

ABC may have issued a correction notice relating to all of this, but I could not find it.

It is nice that ABC has made these fixes, but it would be nicer to know when they did them, and what motivated them.

Regardless, two inconvenient facts remain:

  • While the “Faces of Political Scandal” montage was fresh, it was imbalanced in its party ID weighting for no defensible reason (if there was a defensible reason, ABC wouldn’t have made the changes they did).
  • Unless they stumble across this post or the original, future researchers will look at the montage and understandably, but incorrectly, conclude that ABC got it right from the beginning.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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