Leaked Giuliani document lays out his potential political troubles -- and still the media look away


Major papers and the broadcast news networks have either ignored or downplayed the "personal and political baggage" identified by the staff of former New York City mayor and presumptive 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in a document that lays out his plan for a "bid for the White House."

On January 2, the New York Daily News reported that it had received the "top secret plan" for former New York City mayor and presumptive 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's "bid for the White House." The Daily News reported that "a source sympathetic to one of Giuliani's rivals for the White House" had sent the paper a "remarkably detailed dossier" that "sets out the budgets, schedules and fund-raising plans that will underpin the former New York mayor's presidential campaign -- as well as his aides' worries that personal and political baggage could scuttle his run." However, several major papers and the broadcast news networks either ignored the story, or downplayed the "personal and political baggage" Giuliani's staff identified.

Media Matters for America has noted the media's seeming reluctance to look past Giuliani's reputation as "America's Mayor" -- a nickname apparently first given to him by talk show host Oprah Winfrey following his response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- despite the fact that Giuliani's political career has been marked by numerous controversies. The January 2 Daily News article reported that the documents the paper obtained listed several controversial aspects of Giuliani's career that his staff recognized as potentially damaging politically. According to the Daily News:

On the same page is a list of the candidate's central problems in bullet-point form: his private sector business; disgraced former aide [former New York City Police Commissioner] Bernard Kerik; his third wife, Judith Nathan Giuliani; "social issues," on which ... he is more liberal than most Republicans, and his former wife [and former New York City television news anchor] Donna Hanover.

The concerns appear to be listed as issues for Giuliani law partner Pat Oxford to address and are followed by the central question of the campaign:

Are there "prob[lem]s that are insurmount[able]?" it asks, adding, "Has anyone reviewed with RWG?" Giuliani, whose middle name is William, is referred to throughout the document by his initials.

"All will come out -- in worst light," the memo continues. "$100 million against us on this stuff."

NBC and ABC, however, gave scant attention to this story. On the January 2 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams reported simply that "[t]he campaign plan includes bullet points apparently listing his personal/political vulnerabilities, including his business ties and his three marriages." On the January 2 broadcast of ABC's World News, anchor Charles Gibson offered no indication that the document contained any controversial information:

GIBSON: The detailed campaign playbook of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, including plans to raise $100 million this year, was obtained by the New York Daily News. The paper says it got the plan from someone sympathetic to a rival campaign. The Giuliani camp says it was stolen.

CBS has ignored the story altogether; it has not been mentioned on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, nor on The Early Show. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today have not covered the Giuliani document leak, and neither World News nor Nightly News followed up on the story on January 3. The Los Angeles Times and USA Today have also ignored the story.

A January 3 Washington Post article on the document noted:

The 140-page document, which was leaked to the New York Daily News by a rival 2008 campaign, provides a broad look at Giuliani's prospects for the Republican nomination -- including the potential hurdles of his stormy personal life and his association with disgraced former New York City police commissioner Bernard B. Kerik. "All will come out -- in worst light," says the document as quoted by the Daily News.

The Post's Giuliani article, however, appeared on Page 4 of the paper's A section. In contrast, the front page of the January 3 Washington Post featured an article on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) admission from 11 years ago that he tried cocaine as a young man. The article noted that Obama's "open narrative of early, bad choices, including drug use starting in high school and ending in college, as well as his tortured search for racial identity, are sure to receive new scrutiny" now that Obama has emerged as a potential presidential candidate.

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