Thursday, October 19, 2006


CNN's "Liberal Bias"

Why has CNN devoted 50 times as much coverage to Harry Reid's land deal as Dennis Hastert's?


From October 12-17, CNN aired 3,361 words about allegations that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) improperly reported a land deal in which he made $700,000.

Seventeen different CNN transcripts in the Nexis database include mention of the Reid land deal -- and that doesn't even count October 18, when CNN has aired at least one more lengthy segment on the deal.

By comparison, CNN has aired only 65 words about a land deal in which House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) made nearly $2 million, a story which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on June 15. By contrast, the Reid land deal first broke a week ago, when the Associated Press reported on October 11 that Reid had made $700,000 "on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years."

Hastert's property appreciated in value after he earmarked taxpayer funding for a highway near the property -- but only two CNN transcripts contain any mention of Hastert's land deal, for a total word count that is one-fiftieth the number of words CNN has devoted to the Reid story. And 65 words is an extremely generous count -- it includes a vague reference made in passing by Democratic strategist and pundit James Carville.

CNN has never -- not once -- told viewers the central allegation of the Hastert controversy: that Hastert profited after winning federal funding for a highway that increased the value of his property. As Media Matters for America has noted, that is a crucial difference between the Reid and Hastert controversies: Unlike Hastert, Reid is not alleged to have taken official government action that led to his profit. Yet CNN has devoted extensive coverage to the Reid deal, while virtually ignoring the far more serious allegations against Hastert.

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