WaPo buries Dem fundraiser’s fraud, highlights GOP fundraising scandal 

Our friends at the Washington Post gave front-page treatment this morning to SEC charges that Texas billionaires Sam Wyly and Charles Wyly gained $550 million in fraudulent stock trades.

It also noted prominently that they are big contributors to Republican politicians.  “SEC Charges Billionaire Texas Brothers Who Donate to GOP With Fraud,” the headline declared, and in case the reader didn’t get the point the first words of the article read, “Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative causes.”

This is certainly a legitimate story and arguably deserves front-page prominence and 28 paragraphs of text. Curiously, the article makes no mention of how the Wyly brothers became rich or what businesses they have built until deep into the story, when it notes almost parenthetically that they “amassed their fortune by founding a computer company and investing in a wide range of interests, including oil, insurance and restaurants.” Instead the article concentrates heavily on the Wylys’ political contributions and on the charges against them and their lawyer’s response.

This intensive treatment led me to wondering how the Post handled the conviction and sentencing to 12 years in jail earlier this month of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee for defrauding banks of $292 million? Answer: It ran as part of a three-item story labeled CRIMINAL JUSTICE on page A3, a five-paragraph Associated Press story headlined “Former Democratic Fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Kerry Gets 12 Years for Fraud.”

The story noted that Nemazee was finance chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and that he also raised money and contributed to the campaigns of Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore. Had I missed an earlier story providing more lavish detail?

My check of the Post’s website picked up only one other story from July 12, page C1, headlined “Changing arts & minds: N. Y. financial titans feel like outsiders as Obama . . . .” But perhaps I didn’t use the search function correctly; please let me know if I missed other Post coverage of the Nemazee case.

I wonder why the Nemazee story—about a conviction, not just charges—was not deemed as worthy of front-page and exhaustive treatment as the Wyly story. Is fraud by a Democratic fundraiser considered more of a dog-bites-man story and alleged fraud by Republican fundraisers considered more of a man-bites-dog story over at the Post?

The Post did make clear Nemazee’s ties to leading Democratic politicians, if only briefly, at the top of its July 16 story. But it didn’t give nearly as great prominence to them as it did to the Wylys’ ties to leading Republican politicians in its July 30 story. Fair and balanced? I’ll let you decide.

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Michael Barone

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