Accuracy in Media

NBC News displayed clear bias in how it covered congressional results from last night’s midterm elections with regards to two lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, who have faced legal challenges in their respective races.

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who has been indicted for alleged misuse of campaign funds, last night defeated Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in California’s 50th House District. Hunter denies all wrongdoing and won a reported 54 percent to 46 percent last night over Campa-Najjar.

In April 2015, the U.S. Justice Department brought a corruption case against Menendez, who was accused of allegedly using his position as a senator to benefit a Florida eye doctor named Salomon Melgen. Melgen was convicted of defrauding Medicare of more than $90 million, and while Menendez called Melgen a friend, he vehemently denied committing crimes to help him. Prosecutors alleged that Menendez accepted expensive gifts from Melgen in exchange for intervening on behalf of the doctor’s business interests with government officials and trying to get visas for the doctor’s girlfriends. Menendez’s trial resulted in a hung jury, and federal prosecutors declined to retry him. Last night, Menendez fended off a challenge from Republican Bob Hugin by a reported margin of 53 percent to 44 percent.

David Rutz, the managing editor for the Washington Free Beacon, noted this discrepancy in the breaking coverage by NBC News. “[S]pot the difference,” he tweeted, linking to screenshots of a tale of two tweets.

NBC News’ breaking news tweet about Hunter’s race included the legal challenge: “JUST IN: Duncan Hunter (R), recently indicted for alleged misuse of campaign funds, wins California House 50, @NBCNews projects.”

Yet a much more sanitized description of Menendez appeared in the NBC News breaking twitter alert: “BREAKING: @NBCNews projects Bob Menendez (D) wins New Jersey Senate.”

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