WashPost Downplays Political Cracks at King Funeral, Counts Sharpton As "Legend"

The Washington Post downplayed the Wellstone-funeral elements of yesterday's funeral for Coretta Scott King. The front-page article by Darryl Fears had a bland celebratory headline, and as the article jumped off the front page, Fears claimed "The six-hour service, held in a lavish black church in the wealthy, majority-black Atlanta suburb of DeKalb County, seemed to strive mightily to project a theme of inclusion and the setting aside of political differences."

Riiiiiight. His evidence? "Politically charged" speakers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton did not speak. But he soon noted Joseph Lowery's crack about weapons of mass destruction. "Still, political tensions occasionally burst through the veneer of reconciliation." But a few paragraphs later, Fears included Sharpton among the "civil rights legends" in attendance:

A Who's Who of civil rights legends also spoke: Lowery; Dorothy Height, chairman of the National Council of Negro Women; former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young; and poet Maya Angelou. Even more attended: former Democratic presidential candidates Jackson and Sharpton; NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon; and Gordon's predecessor, Kweisi Mfume.

This is also a weird paragraph because Bruce Gordon is hardly a legend, since he's only headed the NAACP since last June (not to mention Mfume). These men are leaders, but not "legends" any more than anyone else who's led an interest group in the last decade.

Relatively new White House reporter Michael Fletcher approaches the Bush angle of the memorial, with a headline ("Bush Reaches Out") noting that the NAACP's Gordon praised Bush for attending. Fletcher made a point of how Bush "all but ignored" liberal black leaders.

Bush all but ignored many black civil rights and political leaders during his first four years in office. Instead, he focused on building inroads to African American leaders through the pastors of black evangelical churches and business leaders who were not identified with the traditional civil rights agenda.

Bush became the first president since Herbert Hoover to serve a full term without addressing the NAACP, which many acknowledge as the nation's leading civil rights organization. At the same time, Bush's relations with the Congressional Black Caucus were frosty, contributing to a growing gulf between the administration and black voters.

But here's what Fletcher completely (and I'd say misleadingly) omits: how did the NAACP treat Bush? Fletcher made no mention of the infamous 2000 NAACP campaign ad where the daughter of James Byrd, a man tragically killed by being dragged behind a pickup by racists, said that Bush's failure to support a hate-crimes bill was like dragging her father to death all over again.  And he's supposed to show up at their convention after that?

Fletcher also made no mention of NAACP Chairman Julian Bond's recent remarks comparing the GOP to swastika-lovers.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis