Accuracy in Media

In a previous Media Monitor we asked where the outrage was over the statements made by Geoff Fieger, the Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan. The former doctor Jack Kevorkian has ridiculed Christian beliefs and personalities, including the pope and Christ himself. Yet leading liberals, including Democratic Congressman David Bonior, have nor only not criticized Fieger, they have supported and endorsed him. We contrasted this treatment with the media pressure on Republicans to disavow former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke when he ran for office in Louisiana.

A reference to the Klan has now surfaced in an Illinois Senate race, raising once again the issue of why a leading liberal candidate is being spared outrage from the media. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, who is running for re-election, has lashed out in racial terms against columnist George Will. Her comments were prompted by a Will column in which he speculated that Moseley-Braun, the first and only black female Senator in the United States, faces likely defeat in November. Will recounted the sordid details in Moseley-Braun’s background.

Here are just a few of them: First, he said she had helped herself to an inheritance that belonged ro her mother, who was in a nursing home. Second, Will said allegations of possible bank fraud, bribery and other federal crimes have been leveled against her. Finally, he said that Moseley-Braun and her former campaign manager and fianc? may have diverted a couple hundred thousand dollars to their own personal use. In general, George Will had accused her of corruption.

Moseley-Braun’s reaction was fierce and she played the race card. “I think because he couldn’t say nigger, he said corrupt,” Moseley -Braun said about his column. She also made a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, saying that the criticism by George will and other conservatives was a “substitute for their hood.” Eventually, she apologized, saying she had lost her temper and used language that was inappropriate.

George Will dismissed her comments as “cynical name calling,” but her remarks are really much worse than that. After all, she just wasn’t making accusations against another candidate; she was attacking a member of the media who had dared raise some disturbing allegations. To George Will’s column we would only had a few more accusations from a news article in the Washington Post: the paper noted that her former campaign manager, Kgosie Matthews, was accused or sexually harassing female campaign workers and that, in 1996, she and Matthews visited Nigeria and met with the dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.

Does publishing this information make the Washington Post a racist institution sympathetic to eh Klan? Clearly not. Yet that seems to be what has been implied by Moseley-Braun’s attack on George Will, whose column is carried in the Post. Her reckless remarks suggest that the charges against her are true. George Will joked that the liberals in Illinois have tended to “survive their scandals by multiplying them, hoping the unbroken monotony of misdeeds will anesthetize the public.” He contended that Moseley-Braun may have overdone it. For that-and her smear-she deserves criticism and condemnation.




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