“DeLay’s Felony Charge Is Upheld”

That’s how the Washington Post captioned its front page story on the court ruling in Tom DeLay’s criminal case. The Washington Times’ headline read “DeLay’s conspiracy charge rejected.”

It was reasonable for the Post to focus on the charge the court declined to dismiss — money laundering — since this ruling means that DeLay will be unable to resume his leadership position in the House next month. On the other hand, it was misleading for the Post to assert that the money laundering charge was “upheld.” Readers could easily conclude from the headline that the court found merit in the charge, whereas in reality it only found that the charge was not defective. A fair headline would have stated, for example, “Court Declines to Dismiss DeLay Money Laundering Charge” or “Court Declines to Dismiss All DeLay Charges.”

Both the Post and the Times report the results of a CNN poll which has DeLay running behind an unspecified Democratic opponent by a 36-49 margin. However, it’s not clear that this poll reflects what sentiment in DeLay’s district will be if DeLay is acquitted.


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