WashPost Buries Anti-Webb 'Nigger' Allegation on Page B-2, N.Y. Times Skips It

In Thursday’s Washington Post, deep inside a story on page B-2, the George Allen campaign provided a man named Dan Cragg, a former acquaintance of Allen’s Democratic challenger, Jim Webb. Cragg said Webb used the N-word "while describing his own behavior during his freshman year at the University of Southern California in the early 1960s...[Cragg said] Webb described taking drives through the black neighborhood of Watts, where he and members of his ROTC unit used racial epithets and pointed fake guns at blacks to scare them."The Post puts this in the eighth paragraph of a Michael Shear story on the front of Metro headlined "Webb Denies Ever Using Word As Epithet." The subhead was "Racial Slur Overshadowing All Else in Contest." Cragg’s story is hearsay – just like the stories from Allen’s old college associates. Cragg tells the Post he’s an Allen voter, just as most of Allen’s accusers are Democrats. So why are the anti-Allen accusations plastered across the front page of Metro, and the anti-Webb allegations are buried inside without even a hint in the headline of what’s coming? The Shear story began with Webb seeking to explain "remarks he had made a day earlier, in which he refused to say whether he had used the N-word, but he insisted he has never used it as a racial epithet aimed at anyone." Shear then added Webb’s quote that the word has passed through the lips of anyone who grew up in the South, and explained that the N-word was in Webb’ s novel "Fields of Fire." But on the day before, the Post did not present Webb’s lack of comment as a problem for him, just a deferral from commenting on the scandal "enveloping Allen" at the story's conclusion:

Asked about the scandal enveloping Allen, Webb declined to comment, saying it was a distraction to his campaign."It's not relevant to what I'm trying to do," Webb said."There's six weeks left. I'm trying very hard to get our message out so people who will know who I am. That's really what's important to me."

It could be worse. Today's New York Times has no mention of Cragg, even though it features Allen's struggles to win in a front-page story headined "Democrats Cite New Hope In Bid to Retake Senate." Yesterday, the Times added another anti-Allen accuser in an A-section story headlined "New Report That Senator Uttered Slurs."

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