Dec
22
1998

Washington Post Columnist Questions Lott's "Fitness" To be Majority Leader

Record Shows Lott's Involvement With Racist

UPDATE to December 15 News Advisory

On December 19, Washington Post editorial board member Colbert I. King began a column by calling on the Senate to reconsider Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's "fitness" for the job. The reason, wrote King, was Lott's involvement with the racist Conservative Citizens (CCC), which serves as a forum for white supremacist and segregationist views.

On December 12, Senator Lott's press secretary told several media outlets that Lott's involvement with the white-supremacist CCC amounted to a single speech to the group when Lott was in the House of Representatives more that a decade ago. Lott's spokesperson also claimed the senator had no knowledge of the group's beliefs. Because of research supplied to the Washington Post by FAIR, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Texas researcher Ed Sebesta—and the dogged reporting of the Post's Thomas B. Edsall—we now know that Senator Lott's office was, to put it mildly, misinforming the press and the public.

As this update is being issued, the best information on Lott's ties to the CCC shows:

  • In 1997 Lott met held a private meeting with CCC leaders in his Washington, D.C. office, a photo and account of the meeting appeared in the CCC's publication, Citizens Informer, later that year.
  • In 1997 the CCC used an endorsement quote from Lott for direct mail.
  • In 1995 Lott addressed a Mississippi-based CCC function.
  • In 1992 Lott was the featured speaker and issued strong praise of the CCC at its national conference.
  • In 1991, according to Gordon Lee Baum, Lott addressed another Mississippi gathering of the CCC.
  • The Spring 1989 edition of Citizens Informer, the CCC's newsletter, features a photo of Lott with his uncle, who is identified as an executive of CCC, and his cousin, who's identified as a CCC member.
  • Lott's column has been a regular feature of Citizens Informer for years.

Mikal Muharrar, of FAIR's Racism Watch Desk, asked reporters to remember that Lott is one of many elected officials involved with the CCC, adding, "The agreement between the CCC's agenda and the agendas of too many mainstream politicians should serve as a warning to journalists against drawing too fine a distinction between old-school racism and the newer code-word variety driving much of the current political debate."

For more information on this story, see FAIR's December 11 media advisory on the CCC and our December 15 Update on Trent Lott. You might also want to visit the Washington Post to read reports by Thomas B. Edsall from December 12, December 16 and December 19, and the column by Post Editorial Board Member Colbert I. King, which ran on December 19.

You can also visit the CCC website. Some materials have been taken off their site since media attention has been focused on the group.