March 29, 2014

NYT Takes ‘Gun’ Out of AP’s Original ‘Gun, Corruption Charges’ Leland Yee Headline

It’s no secret that the folks who run the New York Times are big fans of gun control. It turns out that they also favor controlling the use of the word “gun” in headlines about Democrats.

Over at National Review’s Campaign Spot yesterday, regarding the news of Democratic California Senator Leland Yee’s arrest, Jim Geraghty noted: “The New York Times greeted that news with a one paragraph summary on page A21 Wednesday with the headline: ‘California: State Senator Accused of Corruption.’” That A21 one-paragrapher is an AP item. According to a long AP report on Yee’s arrest, Yee, a longtime gun control advocate himself, is charged with “six counts of depriving the public of honest services and one count of conspiracy to traffic in guns without a license.” In addition to burying the story in its back pages, let’s look at what the Times did to the AP’s original headline:

Here’s AP:

APheadlineOnYeeArrest032614

Now here’s the Times:

NYTheadlineOnYeeArrest032614

I found no evidence that AP ever used a shorter version of its headline.

AP doesn’t get off the hook in its reporting on Yee.

As seen at the Times, the wire service noted that Yee is a Democrat in the second sentence of its one-paragraph blurb. But its longer report, Paul Elias and Sudhin Thalawala waited 16 paragraphs to hint at his party affiliation, and 24 paragraphs to officially tag him:

(paragraphs 16 through 24)

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, flanked by 14 other Democratic senators at a news conference in his Capitol office, called on Yee to resign from the Senate or face suspension.

“Don’t burden your colleagues and this great institution with your troubles. Leave,” Steinberg said.

According to court documents, Yee performed “official acts” in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid in 2011.

Yee is also accused of accepting $10,000 in January 2013 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract it was considering.

The agent who discussed arms with Yee presented himself as a member of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown that Chow headed. It was among the sites searched Wednesday.

Firefighters were seen going inside with a circular saw and later said they had cracked a safe. FBI agents exited with boxes and trash bags full of evidence that they loaded into an SUV.

Chow is accused of money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property, and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

He was denied bail because he was deemed a flight risk and a danger to the public. The Department of Homeland Security has been trying to deport Chow, who is not a U.S. citizen, since he was released from prison in 2005.

Yee is the third Democratic state senator in California to face criminal charges this year. Sen. Rod Wright was convicted of perjury and voter fraud for lying about his legal residence in Los Angeles County, and Sen. Ron Calderon has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Wright and Calderon are taking a voluntary leave of absence, with pay, although Republicans have called for them to be suspended or expelled.

Getting Back to the Times, clearly the Old Gray Lady wanted to minimize the visibility of Yee’s alleged offenses, both in its story placement and its edited headline.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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