A Democratic member of Congress assaults a police officer, whips up racial animosity, and then is forced to retract the allegations. The newspaper article on that would surely be a painful read for the politician.
Unless the pol is Cynthia McKinney and the paper is The New York Times. The article – which the representative’s staff is surely framing right now – sets up the left-wing congresswoman as “a brilliant and gutsy crusader for the disenfranchised.”
This is how Sheryl Gay Stolberg opens the article, headlined “After Accusing Police of Racism, Congresswoman Apologizes”:
To her allies, Representative Cynthia McKinney, the fiery Georgia Democrat who apologized on the House floor on Thursday for her scuffle with the Capitol police, is a brilliant and gutsy crusader for the disenfranchised — "a modern-day version of Sojourner Truth," said Representative Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio, referring to the famed black suffragette.
You could win back any money lost in the recent NCAA basketball pools by betting that the Times was planning a “brilliant and gutsy crusader” puff piece before McKinney botched things by admitting, kind of, that she was wrong. That’s why the fact that she backtracked from her incendiary accusations is barely addressed in the 995-word homage to left-wing racial politics.
No, McKinney was going to be the hero of this confrontation, and the Times wasn’t going let the fact that she embarrassed herself alter their storyline. As only a publication serving wealthy, white liberals can do, the paper insultingly holds up a racially divisive buffoon like McKinney as the image of the “proud black woman”:
In a Capitol populated mostly by white men in conservative suits, Ms. McKinney, 51, brings a voice that is rarely heard — the strong, edgy anger of a black woman who grew up in the South and does not much care whom she offends.
It's not difficult to read between the lines: "We hold her to a lower standard of civility and accuracy because, well, you know..." It's called the soft bigotry of low expectations, and the Times displays it every day.
Stolberg’s half-hearted stab at objectivity follows her “Sojourner Truth” lead, and it is as laughable as it is frustrating:
To her critics, Ms. McKinney is a relentless self-promoter and conspiracy theorist, too extreme to be taken seriously. And some of her colleagues, including fellow Democrats, say that lately she has been a little bit out of control.
McKinney is only a conspiracy theorist “to her critics?” Maybe that’s because the Times has gone out of its way to bury her rants. She DID say President Bush was trying to “hide” what he knew in advance about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, strongly implying he let thousands of Americans die to help his contributors make money. Stolberg mentions the claim, in passing, in the twelfth paragraph.
No Times reporter mentioned McKinney’s 9/11 rhetoric in the previous articles on the Capitol police episode. (One writer timidly noted only that McKinney is “a lawmaker known for provocative statements.”)
If you are reporting on a public figure making serious allegations, it’s odd that you wouldn’t remind readers that the figure has made wild accusations in the past. Odder still that you would use the occasion of the politician’s embarrassing retreat to pass along a litany of glowing endorsements for said pol.
Stolberg uses the closing paragraph to plug – for the second time – yet another documentary featuring McKinney-type racial hucksters (and Cindy herself) alleging a Republican conspiracy to prevent minorities from having their votes counted in 2000 and 2004. (“The film is being screened this spring at film festivals around the nation.”)
McKinney's anti-Semitic politician-father? Her ties to Muslim extremists? Those are only a problem “to her critics.”