Psssst...He's a Democrat
July 30, 2002 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Psssst...He's a Democrat OK, I know there are scummy politicians of every stripe, but why did this article take 172 words before it identified this loud mouthed, bribe-taking, jail-bound congressman as a Democrat?
posted by nobody_knose (57 comments total)
 
Oh, come on. You know why.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:27 PM on July 30, 2002


Ummm...because it's irrelevant to the story at hand?

I don't see why this is an issue. Is there something germane about his being a Dem that affects his sentence?
posted by me3dia at 2:27 PM on July 30, 2002


I suspect because the author is a decent journalist, meaning he was using the inverted pyramid method. You start with the most immediately relevent facts and work your way into the background material. The fact that he is a democrat has relatively little impact on his prison sentence, and so wasn't immediately mentioned.

Besides, this story has been all over the news for a month, and everybody remotely interested in the story knows he's a democrat. As ljromanoff said, come on.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:29 PM on July 30, 2002


Obviously it's the media conspiracy run by the highly resourceful, extremely powerful, tightly knit and organized Democratic party. Watch out. They control the country now, soon the world.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:31 PM on July 30, 2002


Traficant has been in the news alot lately; and has been mentioned here within the past week. (I'm too lazy to get the thread, let alone count words before I see "democrat").

Why not pose your question to the reporter?
posted by xena at 2:36 PM on July 30, 2002


I'm going to ignore the obvious "lefty press" baiting here and just openly wonder why the article never mentions what sign he is. I bet that dirty fucker had Venus rising. When will people learn?

But, comfortingly, in dark times to come, he can raise his head proudly and say, "Well, at least I've got Gary Condit on my side."
posted by Skot at 2:37 PM on July 30, 2002


Why does this article withhold the oh-so-delicious revelation that the slimey businessman in question ...

... wait for it ...

IS A REPUBLICAN??!!! Could it be conservative bias in the media??? Salon.com, purportedly liberal, actually a stronghold of conservative thought?? News at 11!
posted by grrarrgh00 at 2:38 PM on July 30, 2002


Oh come on. This is an old story, anyone who's been keeping up with it knows exactly what party he's in. The question is why did you bother counting words looking for a more or less obvious fact.

They don't even show a map of the area he represents!

This is one of the stupidest and baiting posts I've seen here in a long time. Why 172 words instead of 6 sentences? 172 does SOUND big doesn't it? Conspiracy! Someone call Robert Anton Wilson!
posted by skallas at 2:43 PM on July 30, 2002


Traficant is a Democrat in name only. He votes almost exclusively with Republicans in the House, and the
Democratic caucus stripped him of his committee
assignments when he voted for Republican Dennis Hastert rather than endorsing Gephardt for speaker.


In his written statement, he [Traficant] broke free of the decorum usually followed by members of Congress and repeated the strong language he used outside the courthouse to rebuff a call from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri, for his resignation.


Well, I have to wonder why you didn't get all huffy about why the Post didn't report the above information?

You really meant to ask why this "loud mouthed, bribe-taking, jail-bound congressman wasn't identified as a conservative until after 172 words, right?

You're not part of this media conspiracy thing that gives a free ride to conservatives, are you?

~wink~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:45 PM on July 30, 2002


You really meant to ask why this "loud mouthed, bribe-taking, jail-bound congressman wasn't identified as a conservative until after 172 words, right?

I'm actually surprised that he wasn't. That was the media's MO last year with Condit.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:53 PM on July 30, 2002


perhaps because he's not a democrat anymore?

Traficant filed earlier this year to run for a 10th term in November as an independent, despite the threat of imprisonment and expulsion.
posted by witchstone at 2:54 PM on July 30, 2002


I'm left-leaning, and I have to admit it's a bit unusual for a political news story not to automatically put a (R) or (D) after the name of a politician, followed by a designation of what their constituency is. On the other hand, the story is about a scandal, and I think it's quite possible that the writer and/or editor deliberately refrained from mentioning the party so as to avoid the implication that they think it's directly relevant to the story. monju_basatsu's point about the inverted pyramid method, commonly used by the AP, is also valid. If they hadn't mentioned the party at all, and/or if another politician was mentioned and associated with a party early in the article, that would be cause for legitimate criticism. But as it is, if they had said he was a Democrat right away, a complaint could easily have been made that they were jumping at the opportunity to point out his party. Seems to me they made the right decision.
posted by bingo at 2:55 PM on July 30, 2002


I remember a similar whine a few months back in some post on some message board (by this time, I honestly have no idea where) over a story about scandal plagued Republican Illinois governor George Ryan. Of course, the poster wondered why it took the article "so long" to mention that Ryan is with the GOP.

Methinks some people need to remove their respectively tinted glasses from time to time.
posted by mathis23 at 2:56 PM on July 30, 2002


bingo, they can't put (D) after his name, because he's been expelled, no?
posted by cell divide at 3:07 PM on July 30, 2002


first time i get to post, and i get to post about my home! anyway...
well, especially now since he isn't a member of congress his old party affiliation isn't all important now.
although recently when he was representing me (as i live in the old 17th district of ohio) in congress he might as well have been a republican since he voted with them so often (not to extent of zell miller, but still). as fold and mutilate mentions, if there are but a few things that show loyalty and belonging to a party it is how a representitive votes for as speaker. traficant's gambit didn't pay off, but he wasn't stupid enough to jump over to the republicans because you will not get youngstown to vote republican... even for jimbo. as an independent he still has way too much support, but he would not if he plain out said he was a gop. that is the way this area is.

it is understandable that neither party wants to be known as his party.... he is too much of a liability now. the republicans are just trying to win on semantics.
(how was this for a pointed response to a pointed question hahaha)
posted by the aloha at 3:08 PM on July 30, 2002


It's illegal to hold public office after being convicted of a felony, so unless Traficant wins an appeal, his "independent" status doesn't really matter anyway.
posted by me3dia at 3:25 PM on July 30, 2002


cell divide: He was expelled from Congress, not the Democratic party. They are related organizations, obviously, but getting kicked out of one, as far as I know, does not mean automatic explusion from the other.

Of course, if witchstone's point above is right (though I'm not sure where she got the quote from; it wasn't in the article linked in the original post), then an argument could be made that the AP was avoiding the designation just to be accurate...but then, that couldn't be the case, because the article does call him a Democrat later on.

On preview: me3dia: It is? Any public office? I'm not saying you're wrong, but please elaborate. Is it in the constitution?
posted by bingo at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2002


bingo, I always thought the (D) was short-hand for Democratic Member of Congress, not just that he was a democrat. Like you would never see George Bush (R), would you? Or even Al Gore (D), even though he was once in the Senate.
posted by cell divide at 3:32 PM on July 30, 2002


Traficant cannot be re-elected to the House for this reason:

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law. - Article One, Section 3, Constitution
posted by BlueTrain at 3:34 PM on July 30, 2002


It's actually 182 words in, but in a 763-word article, that still puts it in the top 1/4. Come on, you're really going to have to do better than that.

Unless you're Fox News.
posted by mkultra at 3:36 PM on July 30, 2002


Traficant cannot be re-elected to the House for this reason:

Incorrect. Traficant was not impeached and convicted, he was expelled from the house. Only Presidents and Justices can be impeached (by the House), and if so, are removed and disqualified only if convicted (by the Senate.)

Since he's expelled, he's no longer a member of the current Congress. Should his district re-elect him, he would become a member of the House again.

Of course, tough to make those votes when you're in prison, but, hey, he could mail in his speeches with his franking privileges.
posted by eriko at 3:49 PM on July 30, 2002


Traficant filed in May to run as an independent candidate in the next election. Consequently, no writer was required to put a little "(D-Ohio)" after his name, especially since he's not counted in Congres as one anymore either. He's not a "D."
posted by raysmj at 3:52 PM on July 30, 2002


Here's a CNN story which goes about the Traficant matter the right way. Traficant is identified, in the third paragraph, as "former Democrat." He's also identified as such by none other than the Republican National Congressional Committee.

So. Pssst . . . he's not a Democrat. Criminey.
posted by raysmj at 4:09 PM on July 30, 2002


eriko, you're right. My fault.
posted by BlueTrain at 4:15 PM on July 30, 2002


There were also plenty of people during the Condit business who thought it was a slimy, underhanded trick of the media to identify him as "Rep. Condit" -- because then people would think he was a Republican.

Jaywalking, anyone?
posted by dhartung at 4:23 PM on July 30, 2002


nobody_knose: Do a little homework before posting.

Traficant hasn't been a Democrat since he voted for Republican Dennis Hastert as Speaker of the House, which he told voters he was going to do prior to the 2000 election. The Democrats refused to seat him in their caucus, so he's been an independent for two years.

He was a Democrat for many years, but to expect the press to call him one now is incorrect.
posted by rcade at 4:32 PM on July 30, 2002


If there's anybody who is a singular individual, it's Traficant. Have you read those one minute speeches? Beam me up, Ann Coulter!
posted by mblandi at 5:15 PM on July 30, 2002


Let see, present tense Expelled from Congress a week ago, an unrepentant James A. Traficant Jr. was sentenced to eight years behind bars for corruption

Past tense, Traficant a Democrat known on Capitol Hill for his arm-waving rants on the House floor, his loud '70s-style suits and bellbottoms, and his thatch of unruly gray hair and shaggy sideburns was unrepentant: "I committed no crime.

No cover up. Just plain facts as this guy has no "label" to label himself. One label he will see is a # on an orange leisure suit, o' I mean prison garb. Who wants this person? Even as a felon of the USA, anyone, in any other land want him. I love how the judge threw the book at this guy. Justice was served and fast. Heck, his style alone was asking for the fashion police to arrest him.

Back to the post, from childhood, a secret I learned nobody can keep them. Now, as an adult, with money being the bases of everything, why cover up as everyone has a $price$.

Yes, nobody_knose I can see were you may have been coming from, so no this is not directed at you.

I did for a while get frustrated when people would read "Rep." next to a politician's name and say look, he is a republican because of the "Rep." in the article, TCS. Big difference if you spell it out "Rep'", Representative vs. republican. The capital letter "R" tells you that. Along with that, "I" would make it personal by thinking the author tricked the reader. Well in fact, it is the reader that needs to be educated, so no fault on the author. As most news is written for a third grader. I will add an author is a writer not a farmer, so sure he needs to buy food, too. See money in one's pockets will pull anyone over to any side of the wall, yet the writing is still on the wall for you to read. Once there, you have to figure it out. Freedom of the press goes two ways folks.
Remember some watch CNN others Fox, and me, which ever channel I left it turned onto. I can't think of one person I know who is not bias except God. Yet, we all have preferances to how the story is narrated to our ears, for me the ocean.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:18 PM on July 30, 2002


The fact that he is a democrat has relatively little impact on his prison sentence

Well, not really, because his job was as a U.S. Congressman from the Democratic Party. It was in that capacity Traficant committed the crimes he was convicted of. Whenever a traditional newscast covers a politician in print, it usually reads John Kasich (R-Ohio) or Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) and so on.

The article did mention that he was a Democrat, eventually. It's better than not mentioning it at all, I suppose.
posted by insomnyuk at 5:36 PM on July 30, 2002


bingo: i don't mean to split hairs, especially since i think mr. traficant's party status has been sufficiently fussed over, but my quote was from the original article. 9th paragraph down (not sure how many words into it).
posted by witchstone at 5:46 PM on July 30, 2002


Why did the article not mention the name of his hair stylist? Obvious leftist yellow journalism at work. Darn the media!
posted by fleener at 5:59 PM on July 30, 2002


Yep, convicted felons lose the right to hold public office. Here's just one of the citations I found. In addition, almost every state has a similar law, including Ohio:
"Section 2961.01 of the Ohio Revised Code, "A person convicted of a felony under the laws of this or any other state or the United States, unless the conviction is reversed or annulled, is incompetent to be an elector or juror or hold an office of honor, trust or profit."
posted by me3dia at 6:09 PM on July 30, 2002


One crooked politician bites the dust. But New Jersey still has this slimy piece of dung
representing them.
But of course Jersery voters will re-elect him in November. It must be the water.
posted by flatlander at 6:14 PM on July 30, 2002


It must be the water.

And here I thought it was the mob.
posted by y2karl at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2002


"Why did the article not mention the name of his hair stylist?"

Black and Decker.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:33 PM on July 30, 2002


If I told you guys once, I've told you a 1000 times, it's definitely the water. (thank you, Miguel!)
posted by adampsyche at 6:40 PM on July 30, 2002


Well, that's a particularly grand statement, adam. Cheers.
posted by yhbc at 7:18 PM on July 30, 2002


"....a slimy, underhanded trick of the media to identify him as "Rep. Condit" -- because then people would think he was a Republican - posted by dhartung at 4:23 PM PST on July 30"

....not Rep(tilian)?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:46 PM on July 30, 2002


They must have updated the story: CLEVELAND, July 30 – Former representative James A. Traficant Jr., the Ohio Democrat expelled.....

First sentence, 9th word. Is everyone happy now?
posted by dwivian at 7:52 PM on July 30, 2002


almost every state has a similar law

i thought states couldn't adopt Congressional qualifications beyond those listed in the Constitution. or does that apply only to tem limits?
posted by tolkhan at 8:04 PM on July 30, 2002


If you look at state constitutions, they repeat a lot of what's in the US Constitution. I'm not sure why that's the case. At any rate, I don't think it's a case here of placing qualifications on Constitutional rights, just a reiteration of those rights at the state level.
posted by me3dia at 8:19 PM on July 30, 2002


Tolkhan, I can't cite a case, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the term limits cases cited in the last few years; and yes, you're correct.

Hence, Ohio's statute has no bearing on Traficant's ability to run for federal office. I also think there's no federal statue of point, or at least, I can't find one on the web.
posted by mikewas at 8:29 PM on July 30, 2002


but doesn't the section of Ohio code you quoted only apply to Ohio state offices, that is, a felon couldn't hold a seat in the Ohio legislature but that section doesn't apply to those running for seats in Congress?
posted by tolkhan at 8:30 PM on July 30, 2002


From the Associated Press Stylebook

Let relevance be the guide in determinig whether to include a political figure's party affiliation in a story...

...Include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.

posted by drezdn at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2002


should have been more patient. thanks, mikewas.
posted by tolkhan at 8:32 PM on July 30, 2002


am i reading the same article? I followed the link and it appears his democrat status is mentioned in the first sentence. oops!
posted by Pacheco at 9:27 PM on July 30, 2002


Some it seems never have enough to bitch about and so create controversy where none exists.
posted by onegoodmove at 11:12 PM on July 30, 2002


witchstone: you're right; sorry.

cell_divide: i disagree, i.e. i think it's okay to use the (D) or (R) after the name of a candidate who hasn't previously held office. But I could be wrong...I've been looking, and I can't find evidence either way.
posted by bingo at 1:20 AM on July 31, 2002


pacheco excellent observation.

THE FIRST SENTENCE STATES THAT HE IS A DEMOCRAT .
posted by yertledaturtle at 3:46 AM on July 31, 2002


I'm actually surprised that he wasn't. That was the media's MO last year with Condit.

LOL

Well, now we've got two well-known conservative heroes. Condit and Traficant.

Thanks for pointing that out.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:09 AM on July 31, 2002


am i reading the same article? I followed the link and it appears his democrat status is mentioned in the first sentence. oops!

It's not, actually. The one mentioned in the original link is here, I think. (Search for 'Traficant' and see the wire stories in chronological order.) Obviously, the left-wing media conspiracy isn't strong enough to keep the AP from placating the dittoheads (qv). Yeah, right. But these kind of arguments based upon running word counts are as flimsy as those in Ann 'my book has footnotes!' Coulter's Slander. It's a fucking wire report, for Christ's sake. We never used to see wire reports in their scrappy, piecemeal, subject-to-revision glory before news sites published them verbatim. (And knowing people who write wire reports for WENN, the McDonalds of showbiz news, I wish that was still true.) They're the raw material for stories, unless you're the most provincial of papers or have the laziest news editors, not polished reportage or opinion columns.
posted by riviera at 6:08 AM on July 31, 2002


Well, now we've got two well-known conservative heroes. Condit and Traficant.

Exactly. The media always exactly describes reality, so therefore they must be conservative. Sheesh.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:51 AM on July 31, 2002


"The media always exactly describes reality, so therefore they must be conservative."

did anyone catch that the only vote cast for not expelling Mr. T from Ohio was....Gary Condit.

mutt and jeff like eh?
posted by clavdivs at 7:29 AM on July 31, 2002


did anyone catch that the only vote cast for not expelling Mr. T from Ohio was....Gary Condit.

With friends like these, etc. etc.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:14 AM on July 31, 2002


I'm sure Tom DeLay will miss both their votes. He may be the only person in DC who will miss them for any reason at all.
posted by nofundy at 8:33 AM on July 31, 2002


It looks like Trafficant would have a good shot at getting reelected if it were legal.

98% of House incumbents won reelection in 2000, thanks to the political contribution money machine and influence peddling. Democracy, my ass! That's a damn good argument for term limits, if you ask me. It's sad that the vast majority of the public doesn't seem to care.

The election of convicted felons isn't exactly uncommon.

Scary, isn't it! (Thanks to Cursor for the first link.)
posted by mark13 at 11:29 AM on July 31, 2002


The media always exactly describes reality, so therefore they must be conservative. Sheesh.

Look at the pots and kettles marching hand in hand!
posted by riviera at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2002


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