USA Today twice (1/16/08; 1/21/08) allowed racist spin to go unchallenged when it identified a white supremacist group that organized a small anti-civil rights rally on Martin Luther King Day only as a “white ‘pro-majority’ group.”
The Nationalist Movement mustered about 30-50 people in Jena to protest both King Day and the 20,000-strong protest held in September in support of civil rights.
Other news organizations that reported on the Nationalist Movement’s January 21 demonstration accurately identified the Nationalist Movement as a white supremacist group. An Associated Press Online article (1/22/08), published under the headline “White Supremacist Protest in Jena, La.,” referred to the “white supremacist Nationalist Movement.” Similarly, an NPR report (1/21/08) referred to them as a “white supremacist group.” The L.A. Times (1/22/08) and the Chicago Tribune (1/22/08), meanwhile, referred to the group as “white separatists.”
On January 11, USA Today reprinted an AP piece that referred to the Nationalist Movement as a “white supremacist group.” In its two most recent articles about the rally, however, USA Today relied only on the group’s self-description as “pro-majority.”
USA Today‘s most recent reports on the march were based on articles originally published in the Alexandria, La., Town Talk (1/16/08, 1/22/08). In the first Town Talk piece (1/16/08), the Nationalist Movement was said to “describe themselves as ‘pro-majority’ but are widely reported to be a white-supremacy organization.” The USA Today reprint omitted this reference to the group’s racist orientation.
Ask USA Today why it covered a demonstration by a white supremacist group without clearly identifying the group’s racist orientation.
Brent Jones, Reader Editor