Talk about fake history. CBS Sunday Morning on April 7 featured a story on the Reconstruction era after the Civil War and former slaves who entered Congress in the 1870s. The visuals for the CBS segment used the political “red and blue” state graphics. But instead of following actual history, the network made the slave-holding Confederates red and the union states blue. It should be the other way around.
Correspondent Mo Rocca explained, “After returning home to Beaufort, South Carolina, Robert Smalls was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.One of more than a dozen African Americans to serve in Congress during the period known as Reconstruction, when the formerly rebel states were reabsorbed into the union and four million newly freed Africans were made citizens.”
As he talked, the CBS visuals showed the red Confederate states melting into the newly blue America. In reality, the Confederacy was made up of Democrats. It was Abraham Lincoln’s Republicans who fought to preserve the union and end slavery.
It’s not as though this was an unclear emotion at the time. During the 1876 campaign, Union veteran Robert Ingersoll exhorted his fellow veterans at a rally:
Every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. Every enemy this great Republic has had for twenty years has been a Democrat. Every man that shot Union soldiers was a Democrat. Every man that denied to the Union prisoners even the worm-eaten crust of famine, and when some poor, emaciated Union patriot, driven to insanity by famine, saw in an insane dream the face of his mother, and she beckoned him and he followed, hoping to press her lips once again against his fevered face, and when he stepped one step beyond the dead line the wretch that put the bullet through his loving, throbbing heart was, and is, a Democrat.
Credit to Rocca for at least getting this right (vocally) as he spoke. Referring to the African American members of Congress after the Civil War, Rocca noted, “All of them southerners, all of them Republicans in 1872.”
But apparently CBS’s graphic department couldn’t get this right.
Over on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, AP White House Reporter Jonathan Lemire tried to connect Reconstruction America to Donald Trump.
A partial transcript is below:
CBS Sunday Morning
MO ROCCA: How about this for a second act? After returning home to Beaufort, South Carolina, Robert Smalls was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. One of more than a dozen African Americans to serve in Congress during the period known as Reconstruction, when the formerly rebel states were reabsorbed into the union and four million newly freed Africans were made citizens.
MO ROCCA: Is this a big national moment?
HENRY LOUIS GATES: It's historic moment. It's memorialized in the famous Currier and Ives lithograph who were African Americans.
ROCCA: The famed printing house created this lithograph featuring the African American members of Congress, all of them southerners, all of them Republicans in 1872.