Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Beeb delays covering Delay

Once again the BBC pushes the "Bush ally" identification of Tom Delay in a headline on another story about Delay's legal troubles. Do you suppose that, had Delay invented a cure for cancer instead of finding himself the target of a legal probe, you would have seen a BBC headline saying "Bush ally saves millions of cancer victims"? No hurry, take your time thinking about it.

Anyway, the Beeb notes that Delay is the subject of yet more indictments. What it doesn't note, however, is the reason why. Well, actually it does in a way, although it gives voice to the reason only through Delay and his representatives, leaving its audience with the impression that it is spin rather than fact. Quoting Delay:
"He is trying to pull the legal equivalent of a 'do-over' since he knows very well that the charges he brought against me last week are totally manufactured and illegitimate. This is an abomination of justice."
However, according to the Austin-American Statesman, this is not just bluster:
Travis County prosecutors rushed Monday to fix problems with an indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay by charging the Sugar Land Republican with the first-degree felony of money laundering.
Which won't come as a surprise to those familiar with Prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who has a well known history of making politically inspired but evidence-free charges against his perceived enemies. Unfortunately the BBC, while happy to quote Delay bad-mouthing his bĂȘte noire, hasn't yet found the time to actually fill in its audience on the facts about Earle.

It did, however, have the time to read "the press" in the US and uncover the shocking fact that some newspapers are - wait for it - critical of Delay. I know, I know. It's surely a newsworthy event when such bastions of objectivity, balance, and non-partisanship as the New York Times and the LA Times editorial pages find it necessary to rebuke a Republican in harsh terms. And certainly the Beeb could not have passed on covering such "stinging" condemnation as The Washington Post wondering if "this latest controversy will cause his colleagues to rethink whether he is, in fact, the person they really want to call their leader." Ouch. Pity poor Tom Delay.

Oddly missing from the Beeb's coverage of "the press" were the less-than-entirely stinging comments of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times. Perhaps the BBC didn't want to confuse its own uninformed audience with the WSJ's and Washington Times references to Ronnie Earle's history.

As I said the other day, I've got no brief for Delay. For all I know, he's guilty of something. But what I do know is that the BBC's coverage of the Delay situation has been pretty pathetic to date.


Blogger ed thomas said...

Good points, Scott. I posted something a bit like it on my blog, but I rashly took the opportunity to point out that Bush's choice of Miers might indicate he's less enthusiastic about the general standards in the US legal system than many legal eagles are- if Mr Earle's anything to go by that might be a good call.

3:05 PM  

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