Late yesterday afternoon, Adam Ganucheau at Mississippi Today wrote an article about Phil Bryant’s membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization. The article goes on to say that Bryant has ancestors that fought in the Civil War and that “Males over the age of 12, who provide proof of descent from a Confederate soldier, may join the organization. National, state and chapter dues typically total less than $100 per year.”
The “non-partisan” publication predictably runs to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which then dutifully expresses some nebulous concern about Bryant’s membership in SCV and the fact that Bryant had an ancestor 153 years that fought in the Civil War. SPLC does not list SCV as a “hate group”, but believes that some folks who are on the wrong side of racial relations “work hand-in-hand” with the SCV. But of course, a picture of the Governor “above the fold” with the word “Confederate” in the headlines is all they really need, context be damned.
Within about an hour of the story posting, Governor Phil Bryant was hosting a reception at the Governors’ Mansion for Mission Mississippi, an organization dedicated to racial reconciliation.
That reception was in advance of the Mission Mississippi Governor’s Leadership Prayer Luncheon and Summit held in Jackson today at the Jackson Convention Center with one of the featured speakers being, you guessed it, Governor Phil Bryant.
On the other side of the coin, the organization that Mississippi Today ran to for comment, the SPLC, is in a lawsuit to actively disenfranchise about 500 families (about 98%+ who are African American) from attending the school of their choice in an otherwise F rated school district. The lawyer pressing the SPLC lawsuit is the son of a founding (and thankfully former) Mississippi Today reporter. Again, no mention of that context in the article or of any of the coverage Mississippi Today has given to the Charter lawsuit or the fact that the SPLC may not be 100% on the right side of disenfranchising minorities themselves.
Context is everything. Mississippi Today’s slant on the article wasn’t an accident. This is one of many articles they’ve written to try to clearly paint an issue in a certain light despite their “non-partisan” claims. As I’ve said on multiple occasions, unbiased and non-partisan reporting claims are as non-existent as accurate climate change predictions. They’re a myth. Everyone has bias. Everyone has their own filters, even (and maybe especially, gulp) reporters. If it helps them get a tax deduction, more power to ‘em, but let’s at least pretend to call stuff for what it is.
And here’s the net effect. Now the Times Picayune has jumped on board whole hog reporting what someone else reported. And this will likely roll to other media outlets for which the optics fit a preconceived (read biased) notion. I’m not trying to make the point that Phil Bryant is or isn’t some paragon of racial reconciliation virtue. But I’m absolutely making the point that there are people in the media who don’t play it straight, but desperately try to make you think they do. And those folks are the most dangerous.