L.A. Times Mangles History: Democrats 'Led the Passage of Civil Rights Legislation' in the Sixties?

Memo to the Corrections Department at the Los Angeles Times: The following sentence is utterly unhistorical. “Since Democrats led the passage of civil rights legislation that marchers pushed for in 1963, Republicans have struggled to recover with black voters”.

Civil rights legislation of the 1960s was favored more by Republicans than by Democrats, so how did Democrats “lead the passage”? With three reporters contributing to the story – Kathleen Hennessey, Richard Simon, and Alexei Koseff – none of them could locate the actual Sixties voting record as they labored to make the GOP look bad for the Democratic unanimity of the event:

Republican politicians invited to the event passed on the high-profile platform to promote their vision of the civil rights landscape and their effort to reach out to black voters. House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio chose to speak at a congressional ceremony last month instead, spokesman Brendan Buck said. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia had previously scheduled events in North Dakota and Ohio, an aide said.

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush could not attend for health reasons, their spokesmen said...

The absence of even a gesture of bipartisanship was a reminder of the enduring political legacy of the civil rights battles. Since Democrats led the passage of civil rights legislation that marchers pushed for in 1963, Republicans have struggled to recover with black voters, leaving a stark racial divide in American politics.

Unlike theThursday Washington Post piece, the Times trio said nothing about Republican complaints that the only black Senator, Republican Tim Scott, was not invited.

Meanwhile, the usual gauzy bows to Obama came throughout. “President Obama on Wednesday described half a century of uneven progress toward colorblind justice,” as if that’s what Al Sharpton & Co are seeking, “colorblind justice.” To hear the crowds, they still want the whites to pay reparations.

And they found it “inevitable” that Obama was in the same league as MLK: “The president downplayed the inevitable comparisons to King, but spoke of rekindling the fervor the civil rights leader had inspired...”

[Hat tip: Gary Hall]

In The New York Times, Alessandra Stanley also made the absence of Republicans a Republican problem. It didn’t matter whether or not they were invited. (They should have crashed it, perhaps in a large tank like “Animal House”?)

Former President George W. Bush did not attend the ceremony, and no other prominent Republican leaders stepped in to help fill the frame. Whether they were not invited or chose not to attend didn’t matter. In a day set aside for reflection, conciliation and bell ringing, that very visible gap was perhaps as illustrative as anything of the remaining political discord that so many speakers bemoaned.

What stood out even more vividly was something too obvious, and perhaps even too familiar, for television to showcase: an African-American president holding court as two white, and white-haired, former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, looked on deferentially.

As long as we’re visualizing Carter and Clinton in deferential adoration of Obama, she could have added two white Southern former presidents for a vividly obvious frame of reference.

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