Networks Omit How Democratic Governor in South Carolina Raised Confederate Flag in 1962

In their coverage on Monday night of the calls by South Carolina officials to remove the Confederate flag from the State Capitol’s grounds, the major broadcast networks failed to note the full context of the flag’s history in the Palmetto State and how it was a Democratic Governor who first hoisted it above the Capitol dome in 1962.

Meanwhile, Fox News’s Special Report noted this fact during one of the show’s “All-Star Panel” segments with host Bret Baier alluding to it as well as how a Republican was in office when the flag was taken down from the dome and moved to the Capitol’s grounds as a compromise in 1998. 

Prior to comments by Fox News Channel (FNC) contributor Charles Krauthammer about the issue, Baier felt it was pertinent to provide viewers with some “important historical context” in that “the flag was raised over the state capitol by Democrat Fritz Hollings – then Governor” in 1962 before being “taken off the state capitol by Republican David Beasley after pressure in 1998 and put on the State grounds.”

While ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir did not mention the flag’s history around the State Capitol, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and NBC Nightly News highlighted how the flag returned to the Capitol during the Civil Rights Movement, but never explained it any further. On CBS, correspondent Adriana Diaz put it this way: 

The Confederate flag began flying on the Capitol dome in 1961, in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. In 2000, it was proved to the Confederate War Memorial on Capitol grounds and is the only flagged that cannot be lowered without a legislative vote, so after the shooting, when the other flags at the statehouse were lowered, the Confederate flag flew high[.]

Similarly, NBC News correspondent Ron Allen gave a brief description of the Confederate flag’s history on the Capitol grounds: “The flag first flew atop the dome in 1962, a symbol of defiance during the Civil Rights Movement. In 2000 a compromise moved the flag to the war memorial on the Statehouse grounds.”

While the networks punted on this element of the story, Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show were joined by liberal National Public Radio (NPR) in finding time to mention it with an online article written by political reporter Jessica Taylor.

After Baier’s comments on Special Report, Krauthammer predicted that states that fly or incorporate the Confederate flag “are on their way to extinction over time” and agreed with fellow panelist Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post that:

Nikki Haley has done everyone a favor in giving cover because the standard Republican position is it should be up to the people of South Carolina. She speaks for the state. The two senators, who are Republicans, have spoken for the state. So, everybody is covered. As a matter of policy, if I were a South Carolinian, I would do exactly as she did. I would have done it five years ago. 

Krauthammer also emphasized that “[i]t’s a good thing that it's been done,” but added that “this a total irrelevance” to the tragedy that took place in Charleston because:

This has nothing at all to do with what happened and had the flag not existed or not been on the grounds of the Capitol, this massacre could have happened in any case, but it’s the standard liberal impulse. Something happened really bad, so there's got to be a problem and there has to be a solution. We must do something, even if the something is entirely irrelevant. Gun control being a second example here because had all the laws that Obama wanted had them passed passed, it would have made no difference whatsoever, but that's the instinct.

The relevant portion of the transcript from FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on June 22 can be found below.

FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier
June 22, 2015
6:42 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: CONFEDERATE FLAG DEBATE; SC Shooting Prompts 2016 Hopefuls to Weigh in]

BRET BAIER: Yeah, I mean, it’s important historical context here. I mean, the flag was raised over the state capitol by Democrat Fritz Hollings – then governor, in 1961. It was taken off the state capitol by Republican David Beasley after pressure in 1998 and put on the state grounds. There are many other flags in the south, Charles, that deal with, have a part of the confederate flag or hat-tip to the Confederate flag. Where do you think this is going? 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I think they are on their way to extinction over time. I do think [The Washington Post’s] Wesley [Lowery] is exactly right that Nikki Haley has done everyone a favor in giving cover because the standard Republican position is it should be up to the people of South Carolina. She speaks for the state. The two senators, who are Republicans, have spoken for the state. So, everybody is covered. As a matter of policy, if I were a South Carolinian, I would do exactly as she did. I would have done it five years ago. It's a good thing that it's been done, but the other fact this is a totally irrelevance. This has nothing at all to do with what happened and had the flag not existed or not been on the grounds of the capitol, this massacre could have happened in any case, but it’s the standard liberal impulse. Something happened really bad, so there's got to be a problem and there has to be a solution. We must do something, even if the something is entirely irrelevant. Gun control being a second example here because had all the laws that Obama wanted had them passed passed, it would have made no difference whatsoever, but that's the instinct. Don't just stand there and do something. When Reagan advised don't just do something, stand there. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center