One month ago, on Sept. 6, 2017, the corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., began in a federal courthouse in Newark. If this article is the first you’ve heard of a Democratic member of the Senate on trial for corruption, you shouldn’t be surprised.
While the media have covered the trial, it has not been the wall-to-wall coverage reserved for when Republicans or conservatives find themselves in trouble. The one-month anniversary of the trial’s start is a good time to take a look back at the five things from the trial you should know.
1. The media is barely covering it
Earlier this week when Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., found himself embroiled in a nasty scandal involving a mistress, and asking that mistress to abort a child. The media pounced. The amount of coverage rightfully given that scandal dwarfs coverage of the Menendez trial.
From Oct. 1, to mid-afternoon on Oct. 6, Sen. Menendez was mentioned 265 times on television and radio, according to the TV Eyes Media Monitoring Suite. During the same period, despite the Murphy scandal hitting on Oct. 4, Murphy’s name was mentioned a staggering 3,857 times.
Looking at CNN, the mentions were three times for Menendez, versus seven for Murphy. On MSNBC, Murphy was mentioned 12 times, and Menendez zero. Most of the media mentions for Murphy were on radio, but the fact remains that the Republican Murphy received over 10 times more coverage than Menendez.
In addition to contemporaneously looking at Murphy and Menendez, the media coverage of the Menendez trial pales in comparison to what the coverage of then-Senator Ted Stevens’ trial was in 2008. NewsBusters reports that CNN has sporadically covered the Menendez trial, but gave multiple updates in the same day regularly for the Stevens trial.
If you’ve not heard about the ongoing trial, it is not a surprise why; the coverage has been very sparse. A notable exception to the rule, however, is that the New York Times has covered extensively, mainly because the trial involves a sitting U.S. senator in its primary coverage area.
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