After the Big Three networks spent days forwarding accusations that Senator Jeff Sessions was a bigot, the time for his first attorney general confirmation hearing had finally arrived. The hearing was interrupted some nine times by roughly 25 people. This caught the attention of Senator Ted Cruz who made it his mission to set the record straight on his colleague’s history of combating racism and dared the liberal media to report the truth. ABC, CBS, and NBC all failed Cruz’s challenge Tuesday evening.
“And I'll issue a challenge to our friends in the news media. I noticed every time a protester jumped up, all the photographers took pictures of the protesters,” remarked the senator, predicting that the protesters would be what was covered, “Tell the story on the 6 o'clock news about Jeff Sessions helping prosecute a Klansman who murdered an African-American man and put him on death row and bankrupting, helping bankrupt the Klan in Alabama.”
And it was an inspiring story, to say the least. “In 1981 in Mobile, Alabama, the Ku Klux Klan ordered the murder of a random African-American man, Michael Duncan,” Cruz recalled, “They beat him, they strangled him, they cut his throat, and they hung him from a tree, absolutely shameful and disgraceful.”
Cruz read testimony from Sessions colleagues on the case who stated under oath that he pulled every string he could to give them the resources to see justice served. With the help of Sessions, Klansman Henry Hayes was sentenced to death by the electric chair, and his accomplice James Tiger Knowles was sentenced to life in prison.
“And this made Hayes the first white man executed in Alabama for murdering a black person since 1913,” Cruz added. But Sessions was not done with Alabama’s KKK, again reading from testimony Cruz said:
And beyond that, your office cooperated with Morris Des and the Southern Poverty Law Center to bring a suit against the KKK and Mr. Galanos explained, quote, “After the criminal case was over, the Southern Poverty Law Center took the evidence we had developed and gave it to them, and they sued civilly and got a $7 million verdict on behalf of Ms. Donald. And the $7 million civil judgment against the KKK in Alabama bankrupted the Klan, leading to its demise in the state.”
Sessions added addition detail, “In fact, they sold the Klan headquarters to help satisfy the judgment.”
Senator Cruz’s prediction was correct, none of the networks reported the story while highlighting the protesters chanting K-K-K. On ABC’s World News Tonight, reporter Mary Bruce hyped the sheer number of interruptions and shared none of Cruz’s facts. She also touted the opposition’s testimony occurring Wednesday, “But in a rare move, three African-American democratic lawmakers will soon testify against Sessions. One of them, civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis.”
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Even though the KKK prosecution was briefly mentioned (but not the bankruptcy) on CBS Evening News, they still painted Sessions as a racist for working on a case involving African-Americans accused of altering ballots. Reporter David Begnaud teed up one of the accused to attack the senator:
DAVID BEGNAUD: What do you believe this was an attempt to do, these charges?
EVELYN TURNER: To stop black people from voting.
Hypocritically, none of the networks reported the racist twitter tirade targeting Sessions and his Asian granddaughter by MTV News reporter Ira Madison III, who told the senator, “Sessions, sir, kindly return this Asian baby to the Toys 'R' Us you stole her from.”
Jeff Sessions Attorney General Confirmation Hearing
January 10, 2017
4:23:39 PM Eastern
TED CRUZ: I would note that in the recesses of the internet and in some of the groups that are speaking on this nomination and, indeed, in the view of some of the protesters who have made their voices heard today, there have been racial charges raised and, indeed, some of the protesters have chanted K-K-K. And you and I have both talked about this a number of times. That is one of the easiest charges for someone to make when they don't have an argument on the merits when they don't have the facts behind them. And it is a particularly hurtful argument that can be directed at someone particularly when it's countered by the facts.
And what I want to focus on principally in this round is spending a little bit of time highlighting an aspect of your record, which is your involvement in the prosecution of Henry Hayes, a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Because I suspect it’s something few watching this hearing have ever heard of. It is striking and I think highly revealing. So, I'd like to walk through some of the facts. I know you're very familiar with them but I suspect some of the folks at home watching this hearing may not be.
In 1981 in Mobile, Alabama, the Ku Klux Klan ordered the murder of a random African-American man, Michael Duncan. KKK members Henry Hayes and James Tiger Knowles abducted 19 year-old African-American Michael Duncan. They beat him, they strangled him, they cut his throat, and they hung him from a tree, absolutely shameful and disgraceful.
You were U.S. attorney at the time. Your office along with the FBI, along with the local district attorney investigated the murder. Department of justice attorneys Barry Kowalski and Burt Glenn worked on the case. When asked about your work on this case, Mr. Glenn testified that, quote, “During the entire course of the investigations, he,” meaning sessions, “has provided unqualified support and cooperation to us and independently as an individual who absolutely wanted to see that crime solved and prosecuted.”
CRUZ: And, indeed, your office prosecuted Hayes' accomplice in federal court where he pleaded guilty. And Mr. Eddy testified that Tiger Knowles, the accomplice, pled guilty on a civil rights violation and received a life sentence, the highest sentence he could receive under federal law in federal prison. And he continued to say, “Henry Hayes was tried in state court by Mr. Galanos' office and found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair.” And this made Hayes the first white man executed in Alabama for murdering a black person since 1913. When you were the attorney general of Alabama, you later argued to uphold Hayes' death penalty and in 1997, five months after you joined this body as a Senator, Hayes died in Alabama's electric chair.
And I would note not only that, not only did you assist in the prosecution of the face of evil, a Ku Klux Klan murderer who saw ultimate justice, but as it so happened, you also prosecuted Hayes' father, KKK grand titan, Benny Jack Hayes who order his son to kill an African-American. And you prosecuted him for attempting to defraud his home insurer in order to collect money to pay for his son's legal defense. Is that correct?
JEFF SESSIONS: That is correct.
CRUZ: And beyond that, your office cooperated with Morris Des and the Southern Poverty Law Center to bring a suit against the KKK and Mr. Galanos explained, quote, “After the criminal case was over, the Southern Poverty Law Center took the evidence we had developed and gave to them and they sued civilly and got a $7 million verdict on behalf of Ms. Donald. And the $7 million civil judgment against the KKK in Alabama bankrupted the Klan, leading to its demise in the state.” Is that correct?
SESSIONS: That's essentially correct, yes. In fact, they sold the Klan headquarters to help satisfy the judgment.
CRUZ: Well, I would say, Senator Sessions, it's easy for people reading things on the internet to believe whatever is raised and passions get hot. And I know the protesters who stand up and chant K-K-K, they in all likelihood believe what they're saying because they're reading and being encouraged on the internet.
But I have not seen any appointee to the cabinet, Democrat or Republican, who has a record like you do of prosecuting Klansmen, putting them on death row, bankrupting them and putting them out of business, and doing so as you had. I tell you, I admire your doing so.
And I'll issue a challenge to our friends in the news media. I noticed every time a protester jumped up, all the photographers took pictures of the protesters. I suspect we're going to see them in all the papers. I would encourage the news media, cover this story. Tell the story on the 6 o'clock news about Jeff Sessions helping prosecute a Klansman who murdered an African-American man and put him on death-row and bankrupting, helping bankrupt the Klan in Alabama. That’s a story that needs to be told.