Remember when during the run-up to the presidential election in 2008 the New York Times put these words in Barack Obama’s mouth: “America’s chickens are coming home to roost”? Yeah, me neither. That’s because “the newspaper of record” never misascribed to Obama a quote from a sermon by the pastor in whose church he sat for 20 years. Doing so would have been a gross distortion and a total abandonment of journalistic ethics.
Yet, that’s precisely what the Times is guilty of having done yesterday when it published an article by Ashley Parker containing this quote (h/t Ben Howe):
Last week, as Mr. Scalise faced a firestorm over revelations about his white supremacist speech in 2002, Tea Party-aligned politicians and news media personalities from Sarah Palin to Erick Erickson condemned Mr. Scalise’s act as a sign of what was wrong with the people who lead the Republican Party. [Emphasis added]
The reference is to Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican who was a frontrunner for House Majority Whip in the new Congress. That was before the Times and other ideologically neutral news sources dug up the dirt that Scalise had spoken to a group headed by onetime Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Although Scalise has apologized for his dereliciton in jugdment and disavowed any assocation with white supremacists, there is lingering confusion over whether he actually spoke to Duke’s group or merely in a hall where a meeting of that group later convened.
Either way, branding Scalise as a white supremacist is a bit of a stretch, especially from a newspaper that continued to run interference for Jeremiah Wright, and by extension Obama, after Wright’s disastrous television interview with PBS’s Bill Moyers in April 2008. In what can be described only as an apologia, the Times’s TV critic, Alessandra Stanley, wrote:
In at least one way, Mr. Wright’s star turn may have helped defuse his importance in the long run. The pastor who was thrust upon the public consciousness as a caricature of the angry black man emerged after an exhaustive series of performances as a more familiar television persona: a voluble, vain and erudite entertainer, a born televangelist who quotes Ralph Ellison as well as the Bible and mixes highfalutin academic trope with salty street talk.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for a similar defense of Scalise.
- Scalise (R) and Carson (D): A tale of two unsavory political connections
- Reverend Jeremiah Wright was worse than Scalise
- New Scalise wrinkle: Didn’t speak ‘at conference’ in 2002; spoke to some white supremacists before the conference
- A year of liberal double standards