After Guilty Verdicts, NBC Fails to ID Jefferson's Party Affiliation

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News devoted a full minute to the guilty convictions for bribery, racketeering and wire fraud against former nine-term Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, but failed to name his political party.

ABC's Charles Gibson mentioned Jefferson's party in a brief World News item. The CBS Evening News didn't air anything about Jefferson's convictions which were announced just under an hour before the 6:30 PM EDT feeds of the newscasts shown in the eastern and central time zones, though Couric did manage to highlight how "Giants quarterback Eli Manning agreed today to a six-year deal for $97 million, making him the highest-paid player ever in the NFL."

NBC considered the case important enough to send Pete Williams to the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia (just a few blocks from MRC HQ), but he didn't cite Jefferson's party and while anchor Brian Williams set up his colleague by referring to the "case of the cold, hard cash, money that was famously found in the freezer at the home of William Jefferson," he identified Jefferson only as "a former Congressman from Louisiana."

Gibson on ABC's World News:

Former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson was convicted late today of charges including bribery and money laundering. His is the case where the FBI found $90,000 of cash in his freezer. Jefferson, a Democrat who once represented parts of New Orleans, was found guilty on 11 of 16 charges. He could face 150 years in prison when sentenced.

From the Wednesday, August 5 NBC Nightly News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We are back now with the case of the cold, hard cash, money that was famously found in the freezer at the home of William Jefferson, now a former Congressman from Louisiana. Tonight, there is a verdict in his criminal trial. Our Justice correspondent Pete Williams at federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, tonight. Pete, good evening.

PETE WILLIAMS: Brian, this verdict comes four years after the FBI watched Congressman Jefferson outside a Washington hotel accept a briefcase stuffed with $100,000 in cash. The jury found him guilty of planning to use that money to bribe officials in Africa who are willing to help U.S. companies in which Jefferson's family had an interest. $90,000 of that money was found in his kitchen in his freezer wrapped in foil packets and hidden in frozen food containers. The jury also found him guilty today of taking bribes from other companies to help them do business in Africa He could face a long prison term. He'll be sentenced in October, Brian.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center