February 13, 2012

Name That Party: Reuters, AP Fail to Tag Ray Nagin, Under Federal Investigation, as a Dem

Maybe there’s some unwritten guideline in the press relating to when a politician who is no longer holding office doesn’t have to have his party label applied if he gets into some kind of trouble — even if that trouble is related to when he was in office.

The suspicion here is that the rule only applies to past Democratic Party officeholders, and that the guideline period is unduly short. A recent example is former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat who is under investigation for bribery and kickbacks. Both the Associated Press and Reuters failed to tag Nagin or any other Democrat in their related reports; the AP report called him a “moderate.”

First, a few paragraphs from Kathy Finns story at Reuters:

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, the colorful and controversial spokesman for the city after the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is under investigation by federal authorities, a source with direct knowledge of the probe said.

The source told Reuters on Friday that several people linked to Nagin or the New Orleans city administration during his two terms as mayor ending in 2010 were cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI.

The investigation includes whether Nagin received favors or items of value from vendors to the city in return for contracts they received while Nagin was in office, the source said.

Nagin, who was in Minnesota for a speaking engagement on Friday, spoke to a WWL-TV reporter at the New Orleans airport on his return. Asked about allegations he benefited personally while in office, he said:

“They’re three years old, and they keep coming up. I only want an opportunity to finally deal with them. Hopefully we can have an honest, open approach where truth and justice can prevail, but I’m starting to worry about that now,” Nagin said.

… Nagin, who is black, was criticized for racial divisiveness after Katrina for urging residents to rebuild a “chocolate New Orleans,” referring to its majority African-American population.

Clearly, Finn had plenty of opportunities to tag Nagin as a Dem and failed.

Next, here are several paragraphs from the AP’s coverage by Michael Kunzelman and Kevin McGill:

Longstanding questions about free trips and gratuities that former Mayor Ray Nagin allegedly accepted while in office are now the subject of a federal investigation, people with direct knowledge of the probe said Friday.

Federal authorities also are investigating how a firm founded by Nagin and his two sons landed a contract to install granite countertops for local Home Depot stores and whether the Nagin family company received free equipment from city vendors, the people said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they could not publicly comment on an ongoing investigation.

Most of the allegations aren’t new. They have surfaced over the years as federal prosecutors secured guilty pleas by former Nagin administration officials in a City Hall bribery investigation. And state ethics officials have brought charges against Nagin over some of the claims.

However, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that Friday that the allegations involving Nagin are now the focus of a federal grand jury probe.

… Nagin, 55, served two terms as mayor. First elected in 2002, he cast himself as a politically moderate reform candidate. Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, devastating the city and scattering the population. Although his handling of the aftermath was criticized, he won re-election in early 2006. He could not seek a third consecutive term because of term limits and he was succeeded by Mitch Landrieu.

It’s hard to believe that a former Republican politician would ordinarily not have his party identified by the press only 21 months after leaving office, as is the case with Nagin. But I guess that’s because only GOP members are truly corrupt. (/sarc)

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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