Call them both “family histories,” a term that the New York Times uses for one of them. The stories ran a day apart — one on July 23, the other on July 24.
The piece from the 24th is titled “Family History Haunts G.O.P. Candidate for Governor in Colorado.” The article profiles a man named Walker Stapleton. By paragraph six, Times author Julie Turkewitz gets around to discussing Stapleton’s policies, which include “a commitment to the fossil fuel industry and a pledge to defund so-called sanctuary cities.”
But before turning to his platform, she airs a little dirty laundry for Times readers:
… [T]here is one aspect of his family’s past that Mr. Stapleton has largely avoided mentioning: His great-grandfather, Benjamin Stapleton, a five-time mayor of this city, was also a powerful member of the Ku Klux Klan, a bespectacled former judge who helped the group seize control of Colorado government in what is now considered one of the state’s darkest periods.
Three years after a massacre at a black church in Charleston spurred a wave of American institutions to reconsider memorials to the Confederacy, Colorado is having its own reckoning. Here, the debate is not about Civil War statues, but about whether to rebrand institutions that have come to bear the Stapleton name: a well-to-do neighborhood, several schools, many businesses.
And now Walker Stapleton, the candidate for governor, finds himself in the difficult position of attempting to lead voters into the future just as the state grapples with his family’s past.
“The West is troubled land,” said Patty Limerick, a state historian. “It’s a temptation to look at the South and say, ‘Look at that very dark place.’ Well, we had segregation. We had lynching. We had all those things, but it’s somehow gotten a pass.”
A candidate’s familial background is fair game, even if it smacks of guilt by association. Any journalist worth his salt would be remiss in not equipping his audience with a complete picture of a political candidate, warts and all.
Which brings us to Exhibit B, the article from the 23rd. The piece is picked up from The Associated Press, a practice that is anything but rare for the Times. This one is titled “Campa-Najjar: He’s 29, Mexican, Arab and Suddenly Relevant.”
The candidate whose full name is Ammar Campa-Najjar is running as a Democrat for the congressional seat currently held by GOP incumbent Duncan Hunter. In the wake of Hunter’s recent indictment on corruption charges, Campa-Najjar has suddenly been thrust into the limelight.
So who is Ammar Campa-Najjar? From the article:
Campa-Najjar, whose father is Palestinian Muslim and mother a Mexican-American Catholic, vows to reach people who had voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and eight years later backed Donald Trump. He said “they are not ignorant. They are ignored, by my party, their party and the country.”
He said he offers “sensible solutions” that cross party lines, including Medicare-for-all if it does not increase government debt and free college tuition based on merit and need.
He does not believe in abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency like some liberal candidates have advocated.
So is there anything else voters should know about this relatively unknown Democrat who is asking California voters to elect him to the House of Representatives? Well, yes, as it turns out. His grandfather, Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, was a member of the Palestinian Black September terrorist group that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
The Times holds off on mentioning this unpleasant detail until paragraph 16, and even then, note the way it is worded:
[Campa-Najjar] has made clear that he has no personal connection to his grandfather, who was the member of Black September, a Palestinian terror group that orchestrated the attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. [Emphasis added]
That is the entirety of the Times’s coverage of this connection.
In the story on Stapleton, the Times references the candidate’s “haunting history” in the title, then spend four paragraphs — beginning with the second — milking that angle. The article on Campa-Najjar never even mentions the grandfather’s name!
Is this the “free” and “fair” press the media claim they are attempting to protect from a tyrannical president?