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Where's the Party (Affiliation)? Democratic Senators Saved from Embarrassment

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad suffered embarrassment when it turned out he had benefited from a sweetheart mortgage rate from Countrywide Financial, a target of Congressional Democrats. But the Times helped out by leaving the word "Democrat" out of the Times' initial story on Sen. Conrad and fellow Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad suffered some embarrassment when it turned out that he had benefited from a sweetheart mortgage rate from huge mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, a target of Congressional Democrats looking for someone to blame for the housing "crisis." But the word "Democrat" was entirely absent from the Times' first story on Sen. Conrad and his fellow Democrat, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, "Senators Caught in Mortgage Fallout" by Leslie Wayne.


By contrast, when Republican Rep. Vito Fossella of New York was charged with drunken driving in early May 2008, the Times worked his party affiliation into the second paragraph and invariably mentioned his Republican standing in plentiful follow-up stories.


Here's the lead to Wayne's Saturday story:


When Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota wanted a mortgage for his beach house, he turned to a Washington insider, James A. Johnson, former head of Fannie Mae, the government mortgage giant, who then put the senator in touch with Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of the mortgage lender Countrywide Financial.


Democrat Dodd of Connecticut also escaped the D-word, though Wayne did note he was on Barack Obama's short list for vice president.


Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a leader in the effort to help homeowners caught in the mortgage crisis, denied on Friday that he received preferential treatment for his two Countrywide loans. A spokesman for Mr. Dodd, Bryan DeAngelis, said that neither Mr. Dodd nor his wife had spoken to Mr. Mozilo about their loans....For Mr. Dodd, who is said to be on a short list for vice president for Mr. Obama, the Countrywide mortgages may prove to be a problem in light of Mr. Obama's ejection Mr. Johnson from his campaign over a similar issue.


Wayne's follow-up story, in which Sen. Conrad said he would donate the amount of money he saved on the mortgage to charity, mentioned his party affiliation in the lead and identified Sen. Dodd as a Democrat.