Earlier this week, I advanced the idea that President Trump could come and make poignant remarks at Mississippi’s bicentennial and the grand opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. That’s exactly what happened.
But you wouldn’t know it if you were looking to the media in Mississippi or elsewhere. Hiding their bias or their crazy was simply not an option, and there are literally too many examples to completely recount, but I’ll point out a few.
To show you how horrifically depleted the editorial bench is in Mississippi, Clarion Ledger darling Ray Mosby penned an above the fold opinion page feature on Saturday, the day that President Trump was to be here, asking whether or not the President was literally crazy. Literally.
Donna Ladd, editor of a local band listing tabloid, penned an article for NBC’s offshoot division laid out a screed on the fact that President Trump’s invitation had “stuck a knife in the back of Mississippi’s back”.
Democratic paid muckraker Alan Huffman had what nominally was supposed to look like a news piece run in the Guardian. No mention of the fact that Huffman is a paid Democratic consultant and opposition researcher. He lionized the boycotters and threw dirt on Haley Barbour who was scheduled to speak but trapped in the same snow event in DC that hit Mississippi the day before.
Jeff Amy wondered aloud why President Trump didn’t use the occasion to dedicate Medgar Evers home as a national monument. Interesting to know that President Obama declined to do the same (though I agree that Trump likely will). Obama also denied awarding Evers the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously after being nominated by our bipartisan congressional delegation. That thought probably didn’t cross Jeff’s mind . . . . or maybe it did.
RL Nave, “non partisan” journalist from the “non partisan” Mississippi Today mocked Boy Scout volunteers at the museum opening as reminiscent of the “Fruit of Islam” paramilitary group protecting Louis Farrakhan in the Nation of Islam. Folks you cannot make this stuff up. I’m sure the donors of Mississippi Today are delighted with the precedent of goofing on kids volunteering on Twitter. At least they’re getting a tax deduction for it.
There are literally a dozen more examples I dug out, but that’s really not the main point.
President Trump’s remarks were absolutely pitch perfect. His words were unassailable.
No one who had the interest of Civil Rights at heart could quibble with the optics or the message. To hear Reuben Anderson speak before the President about showing him the Vernon Dahmer exhibit and telling the story of how his four sons who served in the military were pictured at Dahmer’s burning house was stirring. We had the President of the United States with all of the attention that he could bring come and be gracious and statesmanlike and no one in the media in Mississippi has given him an ounce of credit. Not one.
The folks who have unfortunately coopted the name and legacy of William Winter to advance their own agendas panned Trump for “reading a nice speech”. Though as we published earlier in the week, William Winter has been much more conciliatory towards the President.
The truth is that, prior to last week, there were folks in neighboring counties that didn’t know about the Civil Rights museum opening. Now, it got global attention with cable news networks airing the festivities live. But for Trump’s visit, that simply would not have happened. The conservative estimate of the earned media that Trump brought as a result of his visit was in the high 7-figures. The larger idea was that having the leader of the free world being genuine and heartfelt in that place sets an example for all people that it’s a good thing to come here to this place and reflect and understand.
Just to give you a sense, get a load of the social media impressions for Trump regarding the event.
It was my great honor to celebrate the opening of two extraordinary museums-the Mississippi State History Museum & the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. We pay solemn tribute to our heroes of the past & dedicate ourselves to building a future of freedom, equality, justice & peace. pic.twitter.com/5AkgVpV8aa
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017
And that’s just his account. Governor Phil Bryant on Paul Gallo’s show recounted reports that over 20,000,000 saw the President’s remarks live or on social media. 20,000,000.
Governor Phil Bryant recognized that. The invitation to the President was absolutely the right move. Even as controversy swirled, Bryant’s team deftly created the inside/outside event as a compromise so that folks who didn’t want to “be on stage” with Trump didn’t have to. It didn’t matter. There were those that were more invested in the fight and cheap political base pandering more than the result. They literally could not stand to see the possibility for reconciliation . . . to take yes for an answer.
For the folks who boycotted like NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Representative John Lewis, Rep. Bennie Thompson, former Governor Ray Mabus and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, the event didn’t miss them. Not even a little bit. People of good cheer, both black and white, celebrated the day for what it was supposed to be – an acknowledgment of the past and a celebration of where we are today, warts and all. President Trump was magnanimous and on message . . . and here. Myrlie Evers was inspirational, and not hearing her words live was truly something folks who had the chance to be there will likely regret. Her “bigness” showed the boycotters smallness. Do yourself a favor and watch the speech now.
And bless the hearts of the “protesters” that tried to get on the motorcade route. They failed. But hey, they made it on Twitter, so they’ve got that going for them.
Just as the media should highlight our foibles, it should concurrently encourage what is good. I trust that the owners and publishers to Mississippi’s print and digital media don’t lose sleep at night wondering why they’re losing market share, mindshare, influence and ad dollars. Having disdain for both the people you cover as well as the general public in the state you are in is usually not a recipe for success and is something you cannot hide. All of the individuals and groups mentioned in the media above think Mississippi is largely inhabited by toothless, feckless, hopeless, helpless, racist, bumbling rednecks whose only hope is to change their worldview to that of the writers. I’ve always said that you can’t hide who you really are or what you really think. It comes out, and the coverage of Mississippi’s bicentennial put it on full display.
Happy birthday Mississippi. And thanks to those who helped make Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration what it was. Thanks for coming, President Trump. Thanks for inviting him, Governor Bryant. And thank you for your words, Ms. Evers. May we all live up to the ideals she espoused.