Eight days ago, Steve Gilliard, a liberal blogger critical of Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R-MD), a black conservative seeking the Republican senatorial nomination in his state, altered a photograph of the candidate to portray a minstrel in blackface, and accompanied it with the caption, "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House."
[Gilliard has since removed his original artwork, but blogger Charles Bird saved the image before Gilliard took it down and documents it on redstate.org, a conservative team blog.]
Understandably, this set off a storm in the blogosphere, with many conservative and some liberal bloggers decrying the racist post as beyond the pale. As I blogged last week, even the Washington Post reported it in their Metro section. Well, the story has evolved a bit more. While the Maryland Democratic Party also issued a statement criticizing it, lately, some elected Maryland Democrats including a white Democrat vying for Governor, have excused the attack on Steele as valid owing to Steele's affiliation with the GOP.
So far there has been no coverage of this new development in the mainstream broadcast media.
The story is still young, I suppose, and sometimes these controversies do take a while to be noticed by the national media, but by contrast we should remember the Trent Lott controversy which scuttled his return to the post of Majority Leader in the US Senate shortly before Congress returned to session after the 2002 midterms. It only took a few days after Trent Lott publicly wished that Strom Thurmond was elected in 1948 when he ran as a segregationist Dixiecrat for the mainstream media to take notice. A search of Nexis of ABC, CBS, and NBC stories on Trent Lott's remarks at a birthday dinner on December 5, 2002, show 40, 36, and 41 stories respectively from the time of the remark to the end of the month. ABC was the first network to mention the remarks (December 6) while CBS and NBC first mentioned them that Sunday. It wasn't until shortly after that, however, that the controversy really started brewing and the bulk of the news coverage ensued.