Thursday, January 22, 2015

Democrat NY Assembly Speaker Arrested - Press Shrugs

Contrast this photo of Speaker Silver on his way to his arrest looking vaguely
like Boss Tweed with the pics in most of the mainstream press this morning.

(1-22-2015) Both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan both described attempts to appease your enemy as "Feeding the crocodile, hoping it will eat you last." It may have been "alligator". I've heard it both ways. At any rate, New York State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) was arrested in New York City, adding some credence to that notion. The crocodiles definitely smell blood in the water, though some of them are holding back a little, apparently hoping not to damage him too much in case he hasn't run out of croc-o-treats quite yet.

I first got news of the Speaker's arrest in an email flash from Fox News. I can't say I was surprised, but I got to wondering if anyone else had it. My first sweep didn't find much besides Fox's report. Around 10:00 am PST the reporting went like this: 

Fox Business News had a pretty straightforward report, predictably without a lot of puffy praise for the Speaker's past accomplishments. The story didn't dwell on his being a Democrat in the headalines, but did indicate in the lead picture that Silver was (D-Manhattan).

Fox News didn't lead with the story but it gave the link to the Fox Business News Story at the top of it's "Latest News" ticker.
CNN didn't have a story at all when I searched the site this morning, the day after the arrest. Perhaps they're holding back to see whether this is a "real" story or not.

ABC News never directly said that Silver was a Democrat, but talked about how Democrats reacted to the arrest, obliquely suggesting that Silver was their leader. ABC talked about the Democrats needing to change leadership and then quoted a prominent Democrat, Daniel O'Donnell as saying there was "no chance of that." The article ended with praise for Silver's work over the years, making him sound like a warrior in a noble cause, then admitted there had been signs of scandal in the past that the Speaker had dismissed as "...having been handled by the ethics committee."

NBC News didn't have the story listed as a leading story and a search turned up nothing this morning.

CBS News, one of the better "which way the wind is blowing" members of the media did post the story with the headline - Sheldon Silver, powerful New York Democrat, arrested by FBI. The link was well down toward the bottom of the page, but at least they covered it. They also posted a recent picture showing Silver looking like a craggy old white guy in the back of a limo - the sort of perp walk picture you'd expect under a headline like the one above. The reporter did use the same text clip that ABC used about the Dems contemplating no changes in leadership by Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell (D-Manhattan) though they did add this extra line from O'Donnell's quote - "It's "a sad day considering" all the work Silver and the conference have done protecting New York's poor and others."

MSNBC, perhaps hoping to avoid charges of one-sided reporting, listed the story well down at number nine in its top ten stories. The story is surprisingly up-front about the charges and the fact that Silver is a Democrat. Then, it waxes poetical....

"Silver, 70, was elected in 1976 and named Speaker in 1994, where he took a key role negotiating bills and hammering out budgets with the Senate majority leader and governor in back rooms. He earned a reputation as an unmovable force in the capital, while governors came and went and other legislators were felled by political blunders.  Silver’s office has not yet commented on details of the arrest. Investigators declined to comment on proceedings to NBC News. State lawmakers are legally allowed to serve during investigation and even after an arrest, but if they are convicted of felony charges they must leave office."

Good news that. Silver won't have to leave office till they actually convict him, huh? Also MSNBC's picture of the Speaker was of him when he was younger and less "old craggy white guy".

The Huffington Post to its credit placed the story third down on both it's front page and politics page and included a very nice picture of him (though the picture was probably a few years old). The headlines were Sheldon Silver Arrested By FBI On Corruption Charges and Top NY Lawmaker Arrested By FBI On Corruption Charges. The story was quick and straightforward without a lot of puff. It ended by quoting Silver, as he was quoted by the NY Times, saying, "I hope I'll be vindicated," as he entered the FBI building in New York to surrender. The story was surrounded by Huff-Po's usual collection of gleefully anti-Republican front-pagers.

Imagine if Silver had been a Republican. Given that he's also an Orthodox Jew, I really doubt the liberal press would have granted him as much of a "by" on this one, especially given the anti-semitic tone of reporting coming from the left of late. The headline in all the news media certainly would NOT have been about under-inflated footballs.

© 2014 by Tom King

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