The Corner

Media Matters, and So Does Proofreading

Media Matters for America just sent out the following press release:

Greetings,

I wanted to make sure you had seen Media Matters’ latest research on the media ignoring allegations that surfaced during Sen. Jeff Sessions’ 1986 nomination to the U.S. district court. As reported by the Associated Press, Sessions’ “nomination originally drew fire from civil rights groups because of his [1985] prosecution … of three west Alabama civil rights activists on vote fraud charges. The three were acquitted by a federal court jury, prompting civil rights leaders to charge that the prosecution was an attempt to intimidate black voters.” Doesn’t the fact that we quote the AP undermine the idea that the media is ignoring the story? Could we say, “research on much of the media ignoring…”

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like additional information.

Jessica Levin

Press Secretary

Media Matters for America

My emphasis added — I guess somebody forgot to delete that parenthetical edit. I’d always thought that Media Matters tried in vain to prove conservative media bias, but I didn’t expect that the organization itself would confirm my suspicion.

And to be fair to Senator Sessions — I spoke with him a while back and here’s a more complete explanation of his allegedly controversial civil-rights record in Alabama:

As a U.S. attorney, Sessions unsuccessfully prosecuted a group of civil-rights activists — including a former Martin Luther King Jr. aide — on charges of voter fraud. Sessions says he remains convinced that he did the right thing, but admits he “failed to make the case,” and that the prosecution provoked a good deal of animus against him. Perry County in Alabama, where the alleged voter fraud took place, has been dogged by similar accusations for decades; just last year, it was the site of a voter-fraud investigation by state and federal authorities who were looking into corruption by both black and white authorities.

Despite the smear campaign against him, Sessions’s actual record tells a different story.

“I filed 20 or 30 civil-rights cases to desegregate schools and political organizations and county commissions when I was a United States attorney,” he says. “I prosecuted the head of the Klan for murdering somebody, and I insisted the klansman be given the death penalty. When I became attorney general years later, I handled that appeal and ensured that he was, in fact, executed.”

The klansman in question, Henry Francis Hays, was executed for abducting and killing Michael Donald, a black teenager selected at random. The prosecution of Hays led to a $7 million civil judgment that bankrupted the Klan. Sessions notes that two of the lawyers from the Justice Department’s civil-rights division who worked the Hays case with him testified on his behalf [during congressional hearings on his nomination to the federal bench].

UPDATE — here’s the revised Media Matters release:

Media Matters for America

Greetings,

I wanted to make sure you had seen Media Matters’ latest research on five major newspapers reporting on Sen. Jeff Sessions’ opening statement at the confirmation hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor without noting that in 1986, Sessions’ nomination as a U.S. district court judge was rejected following allegations that Sessions had a history of making racially charged comments.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like additional information.

Jessica Levin

Press Secretary

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