Reporter Conjures KKK In Story on Evangelicals

November 8th, 2005 4:47 PM

I just came across this today while purusing the Christianity Today (CT) website: Ted Olsen in the CT weblog last Friday tackled bias in a liberal Austin, Texas newspaper in "Who Brought Up the Klan?":

The Austin (Tex.) American-Statesman has a story today on 30 pastors rallying to support the state's marriage amendment. It's got the five W's, but given the point of the story, the most important question is never answered.

The title: "Pastors gather in Austin to back marriage amendment."

The deck: "Group careful to distance itself from KKK, which also supports Prop 2."

Of the 298-word story, 126 words are devoted to the Klan:

While supporting the amendment on Tuesday's ballot, several Austin-area pastors said they wanted to distance their message from that of the Ku Klux Klan, which is planning a rally on Saturday to support the amendment.

"We have nothing in common with the Ku Klux Klan," said Michael Lewis, the president of the Austin Area Pastors Council. "As Christians, we have to distance ourselves, particularly on racial issues. We're separate from them."

"I am particularly concerned about the Ku Klux Klan and other rogue groups that are supporting the passage of Proposition 2," said Steve Washburn, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Pflugerville. "But their language is laced with hate, and we want all who are listening to know we are here out of love."

So here's the question: Who brought up the Klan? Did American-Statesman reporter Lilly Rockwell ask Lewis and Washburn what they thought about the Klan's support of the amendment? Or did they just start talking about the Klan?

If Rockwell brought it up, that's an unconscionable smear and a severe violation of journalistic ethics.

If Lewis and Washburn brought it up, they're foolish, and they're wrong to suggest that the Klan has such significant political power that it's an important part of the story.

City officials are encouraging people to ignore the Klan's rally. Good strategy. So who's the one who thinks the most important thing about a pastors' rally is that they aren't Klan members? [emphasis mine]

The Lilly Rockwell article critiqued by Olsen can be found here (registration required, see and enter for a username and password).