A former senior Ohio lawmaker who had served as assistant minority whip in the Ohio legislature was arrested this past weekend for the murder of his estranged wife. He had previously served nine months in state prison for assaulting her in 2014 while a common pleas judge in Cuyahoga County — a position he had been appointed to by then-Gov. Ted Strickland (D).
But would you ever know that Lance Mason was a Democrat? Not if you relied on the media reporting.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported:
Former Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason, who spent nine months in prison for beating his then-wife in front of their children, is accused of fatally stabbing the woman Saturday morning at his Shaker Heights home, according to three sources.
Mason was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, at his home on Chagrin Boulevard near Normandy Road, the sources said […]
Mason in August 2014 punched his then-wife 20 times and slammed her head against the dashboard of his car five times, breaking her orbital bone.
The couple’s children were in the back of the car when the attack occurred. Mason, who previously served in the state legislature, was a sitting Cuyahoga County judge when the attack happened.
Mason was charged earlier today with felonious assault for crashing into a police cruiser and injuring an officer while leaving the scene of the fatal stabbing.
Despite Mason having served in both the Ohio House and Senate, including a stint in leadership of the House Democrat caucus, there’s no mention in the article of his political affiliation.
Mason served two terms in the Ohio House, and was serving a term in the Ohio Senate when he was selected by Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland to fill a seat on the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas.
After serving nine months of his two year prison sentence for assaulting his wife, Mason was hired last year by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson as minority business development administrator in the city’s Office of Equal Opportunity. He was fired from that job this past weekend after his arrest on murder charges.
When the story of this weekend’s murder went national yesterday, there was also no mention of Mason’s deep roots in the Ohio Democrat Party:
A former Ohio judge and state lawmaker who went to prison for brutally assaulting his wife in 2014 has been arrested after she was found dead, authorities said. https://t.co/0vPjKQFJz2
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 19, 2018
It’s no surprise that Mason’s political affiliation is also missing in international reporting.
Some have taken note of the media’s glaring omission in covering the story so far:
If a Republican served in the Ohio House and Senate *and in caucus leadership* before being appointed a judge by a Republican governor, then was hired by a Republican mayor after doing time for beating his wife, and then killed her… "Republican" would be in every headline.
— Jason Hart (@jasonahart) November 18, 2018
Given what we saw during this past election cycle — most notably during the Brett Kavanaugh nomination battle — about the seriousness of sexual assault and domestic violence by public officials, this criticism of the media seems warranted.
Despite protestations by Democrats about how seriously they take these issues, Cleveland Mayor Jackson was unrepentant about hiring Mason following his domestic violence conviction and prison sentence. When asked by the local media today about Mason’s hiring and whether he would stop hiring convicted abusers, Jackson said:
No, we’re not gonna say that. We’re gonna look at it as a policy. Our policy is second chances unless there is something that would prevent us from doing it. For example, you wouldn’t hire a convicted felon and put them around children. You wouldn’t hire an embezzler and put them in the finance department.
One could imagine the media outrage had a Republican official made the exact same statement following the murder arrest of a former Republican lawmaker previously convicted of domestic violence and later hired by a Republican administration.
That is the subtle bias on display in the media’s deliberate omission of Mason’s political affiliation in the coverage so far of this tragic incident.
And it’s a partisan media double standard that many in the public are noticing more regularly. That’s likely the cause of more mistrust of the media than anything that President Donald Trump tweets.