Most news organizations ignored a federal judge’s decision on Monday to reject disgraced New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s request to dismiss the federal corruption case against him.
Just five days after he expressed his sympathy for Menendez’s request, U.S. District Judge William Walls dashed the Democratic senator’s hopes by allowing the case to proceed on all 14 charges against him. Menendez, who is the first sitting senator in 36 years to undergo a federal corruption trial, was indicted on bribery and corruption charges in 2015. But mainstream media networks ignored the latest development in the senator’s trial, the Media Research Center found.
"In a devastating day in court for New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez Monday, a federal judge threw out the defense's motion for acquittal, which was made last Thursday when the prosecution rested its case," MRC noted. "But despite the damning development, the liberal Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) continued their utter denial of the trial's existence."
MRC reported that the Menendez trial's absence from Monday evening news broadcasts "was a continuation of their almost complete blackout of the Democrat's corruption charges." CBS aired a brief segment "lasting a mere few seconds," but neither ABC nor NBC broached the topic on their evening news shows.
"Instead of covering the corruption trial of a Democrat, or how his Democratic colleagues were still donating money to re-elect him, the Big Three Networks were praising infamous NFL [quarterback] Colin Kaepernick for suing the NFL with claims of collusion to keep him out of a job," Nicholas Fondacaro of MRC wrote.
Menendez has been accused of wielding his political power and influence on behalf of his close friend, Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen, by dissuading the Department of Health and Human Services from moving to collect the more than $8 million that Melgen had overbilled Medicare. In a separate court case in West Palm Beach, Florida, in April, Melgen was convicted on 67 counts of Medicare fraud, for bilking the government out of as much as $105 million. It is the biggest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history.
Prosecutors say that in exchange for his favors — which also included pressuring State Department employees to grant visas for three of Melgen's girlfriends — Menendez pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and personal trips, including a week-long trip to Paris and several trips to the Dominican Republic aboard a private plane.
Menendez and his defense team had hoped to get the case against him thrown out because of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision that narrowly tailored the legal definition of "public corruption" charges. The defense argued that the new definition undermined the so-called "stream of benefits" theory that labels pertinent long-term patterns of actions as "bribery."
Although Judge Walls initially expressed some sympathy for the argument Thursday, after reviewing the prosecution's briefings and documents further, he refused to grant the senator's request.
"This court concludes that a rational jury could determine that the defendants entered into a quid pro quo agreement," Walls said. "The jury will decide whose version of what happened and what didn't happen is more likely than not."
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Last Modified: October 17, 2017, 12:18 pm