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ABC, CBS and NBC All Refuse to Identify Indicted Nagin as Democrat

All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday night ran short items on the federal corruption indictments against the bumbling former Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, but skipped his party affiliation, a fact Reuters considered newsworthy – if not until their sixth paragraph: “Nagin, 56, and a Democrat...”

ABC anchor Diane Sawyer generously described Nagin as “the face of Hurricane Katrina...then the Mayor of New Orleans fighting for his city.”

On CBS, anchor Scott Pelley conversationally relayed: “We heard today that Ray Nagin, the former Mayor of New Orleans, was indicted on federal corruption charges...”

The toughest line came from NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, but also he left out the identity of Nagin’s party: “Ray Nagin, who as Mayor of New Orleans gained notoriety for his erratic behavior during Hurricane Katrina when the city needed a steady hand, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 21 counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, tax fraud and filing false tax returns...”

From ABC’s World News:

DIANE SAWYER: And there is another story about public integrity in the news. Seven years ago, this man was the face of Hurricane Katrina, Ray Nagin, then the Mayor of New Orleans fighting for his city.

RAY NAGIN: Katrina was not discriminatory in its destruction. Katrina created an environment where we were fighting for our lives to save people.

SAWYER: Well today we learned he’s been indicted, charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, allegedly even steering Katrina related contracts to his friends and associates.

Scott Pelley, on the January 18 CBS Evening News:

We heard today that Ray Nagin, the former Mayor of New Orleans, was indicted on federal corruption charges. America came to know Nagin after Hurricane Katrina when he blamed the federal government for abandoning his city. Well, today, prosecutors accused Nagin of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from business owners who received lucrative contracts to do work for the city. Nagin had no comment today.

Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News:

Ray Nagin, who as Mayor of New Orleans gained notoriety for his erratic behavior during Hurricane Katrina when the city needed a steady hand, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 21 counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, tax fraud and filing false tax returns. It’s alleged Nagin took flat-out cash kickbacks from city contractors. He ran as a reformer. Even in the long history of corrupt government officials in New Orleans, this federal indictment is a first. Some time ago, Ray Nagin left New Orleans and moved to Dallas, Texas.

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.