Over the course of a November 28 ABC World News Tonight segment on Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) November 28 resignation from Congress after he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from defense contractors, neither ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross nor anchor Elizabeth Vargas mentioned that Cunningham was a Republican. The only party identification ABC offered during the nearly three-minute report was four seconds of on-screen text that included "(R) California" underneath Cunningham's name. Because the Cunningham scandal is the latest in a series of ethics investigations concerning Republican political figures, his party affiliation is particularly relevant.
Throughout the otherwise hard-hitting World News Tonight report, Ross and Vargas described Cunningham merely as a "congressman from California" and "a powerful figure in Washington" (Cunningham held a position on the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee for defense and was the chairman of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.) During a video clip of Cunningham's statement to the press, ABC's on-screen text identified him as a Republican:
Cunningham's guilty plea follows an admission in an unrelated case by lobbyist Michael Scanlon, who pleaded guilty on November 21 to conspiring to bribe a member of Congress and other public officials. Scanlon is a former aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who stepped down from his leadership post after being indicted for money-laundering and conspiracy to violate Texas campaign finance law. According to a November 22 New York Times article, the federal investigation into the alleged defrauding of Indian casinos by Scanlon and GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff may expand to members of Congress, such as House Administration Committee chairman Bob Ney (R-OH), who was reportedly identified (though not by name) in court papers regarding the case. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in the investigation into the alleged outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is also under investigation by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission for initiating the sale of stock in HCA Inc., a hospital chain founded by his family, shortly before a weak earnings report caused the company's share price to plummet.