In the September 20 presidential press conference, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux sought to blame President Bush and the GOP for a perceived nationwide deterioration in race relations. In doing so, Malveaux raised the plight of the so-called Jena Six, a group of black Louisiana teenagers charged in the beating of a white student.
Media outlets covering the controversy have generally skirted around reporting on the victim of the "Jena Six" assault, focusing more on the political dimensions of the controversy, particularly Thursday's Al Sharpton-led protests in the small Louisiana town. For example, in a separate post, NewsBusters contributor Matthew Balan notes how news outlets like CNN.com and USAToday are burying or ignoring details about victim of the Dec. 4, 2006 beating, Justin Barker.
Below are the questions Malveaux asked, as well as a separate "Jena Six" question posed by Michael Fletcher of The Washington Post, who the president referred to as "Fletch":
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN correspondent: Mr. President, thousands of people are marching today in Jena, La., in a racially-charged case involving six black students, the beating of a white student. Also not far from the White House recently there was a noose that was found hanging from a tree at a college campus. You have worked very hard to bring blacks and Hispanics into your party, but the fallout from the immigration debate and even some Republican presidential candidates' refusal to go to debates at Univision as well as Morgan State calls into question whether or not the state of race relations is deteriorating in this country and specifically in your party. Your thoughts?
MALVEAUX: Do you think this is a defining moment in race relations?
MICHAEL FLETCHER, WASHINGTON POST: What do you say to those who criticize you for not speaking out on the situation in Louisiana, particularly given your passionate remarks after Hurricane Katrina about race? People say you've fallen silent.