Lehrer Accuses GOP of Opposing Civil Rights, Kyl Corrects Him

PBS's Jim Lehrer on Tuesday wrongly accused Republicans of always being against major social legislation in this country including the Civil Rights Act, Social Security, and Medicare.

"[T]hrough history, recent history in particular, Republicans have opposed things like Social Security, Medicare, even civil rights legislation, but then, once they lost, they took some deep breaths and moved on, and then finally ended up embracing many of these major changes in -- in laws and in the way we do business here," the News Hour host amazingly said to his guest Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and Kyl quickly corrected Lehrer (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript and commentary, relevant section at 4:40, h/t Cubachi):

JIM LEHRER, HOST: Senator, as you know -- much has been made of this -- that, through history, recent history in particular, Republicans have opposed things like Social Security, Medicare, even civil rights legislation, but then, once they lost, they took some deep breaths and moved on, and then finally ended up embracing many of these major changes in -- in laws and in the way we do business here.

Is that going to happen with health care reform?

SEN. JON KYL, (R-ARIZONA): Jim, could I argue a little with the premise of your question?

LEHRER: All right. OK. Sure.

KYL: The civil rights legislation was pushed by Republicans, as you will recall. It was the Southern Democrats who filibustered it, who fought against it.

The last...

LEHRER: Excuse me. I was just thinking specifically of Senator Barry Goldwater, a colleague of yours in -- in -- from Arizona, who did oppose -- I`m not saying all Republicans. I didn`t mean to suggest all Republicans.

KYL: No, I think there were...

LEHRER: OK.

KYL: The civil rights legislation was a truly bipartisan, historic bipartisan action.

LEHRER: All right.

Of course, Kyl was right. Even the liberal-leaning Wikipedia is aware of the roll call votes for the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The original House version:

* Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
* Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)

Cloture in the Senate:

* Democratic Party: 44-23 (66%-34%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate version:

* Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:

* Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
* Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

As such, upwards of 80 percent of Republicans were in favor of this legislation, as compared to Democrat support at the 60 percent level.

Let's see what else Wikipedia is familiar with concerning this bill that Lehrer apparently isn't:

The bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964 and the "Southern Bloc" of 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage. Said Russell: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states."

After 54 days of filibuster, Senators Everett Dirksen (R-IL), Thomas Kuchel (R-CA), Hubert Humphrey (D-MN), and Mike Mansfield (D-MT) introduced a substitute bill that they hoped would attract enough Republican swing votes to end the filibuster. The compromise bill was weaker than the House version in regard to government power to regulate the conduct of private business, but it was not so weak as to cause the House to reconsider the legislation.

On the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation. Until then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays.

Hmmm. So Democrats filibustered -- including the media's beloved Robert Byrd!!! -- and it was Republicans that actually ended up getting the votes for cloture to end debate as well as to pass the final bill.

Sadly, Lehrer appears to be like most of his colleagues that just refuse to recognize AND report the truth on this issue.

As for the News Hour host's view of Goldwater, the liberal Wikipedia doesn't agree here either: 

Although he had supported all previous federal civil rights legislation, Goldwater made the decision to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His stance was based on his view that the act was an intrusion of the federal government into the affairs of states and, second, that the Act interfered with the rights of private persons to do business, or not, with whomever they chose.

In fact, Goldwater supported the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts.

But that's not the only area Lehrer was wrong, for Medicare was also passed with bipartisan support unlike his contention.

In the Senate, 13 out of 32 Republicans voted in favor of the Medicare Act of 1965. In the House, 70 out of 140 GOPers voted "Yea."

As such, Lehrer was all wet on this issue as well.

As for Social Security, Lehrer ended up going 0 for 4 as the Weekly Standard reported last August:

FDR passed Social Security with massive Republican support -- 81 Republicans voted in favor of the measure in the House and only 15 against while 16 Republicans voted in favor in the Senate and just 5 against. 

Hmmm. So Lehrer was completely wrong on how Republicans voted on all of these major pieces of legislation.

Alas, readers shouldn't be surprised, as liberal media members for years have been misrepresenting GOP positions on these issues in order to give the public the impression that Democrats are the champions concerning such matters.

Just imagine how hard it would be for a liberal to ever get elected to anything if press members told the truth about how Republicans voted on these bills.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.