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Pundit Living With Clinton Staffer Smears Sanders

Saturday, February 20, 2016 23:48
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(Before It's News)

As the Democratic presidential race next moves to the heavily black electorate in South Carolina, two misleading smears of candidate Bernie Sanders by prominent African-American supporters of Hillary Clinton taint the critics’ fairness and that of the institutions they represent.

Washington Post editorial board member Jonathan Rep. John Lewis officialCapehart and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights hero shown in an official photo at right, separately suggested in misleading remarks that Sanders had puffed up his 1960s civil rights activism.

The controversies arose as Sanders and Clinton scramble for African-American support in the South Carolina primary Feb. 27 following Clinton’s victory in the Nevada caucuses Feb. 20. The big prize is the 11-state Super Tuesday contests March 1, most in Southern states where, like South Carolina, the Democratic electorate is majority or near-majority African-American.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersLewis dissed Sanders Feb. 11 at a news conference called by Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the Democratic National Committee,

“I never met him,” Lewis said of Sanders, referencing the early 1960s when Lewis led the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in courageous civil rights struggles that included the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama. ”But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.” Two days later, Lewis had to walk back his remarks by noting that Sanders had been active in the early 1960s, whereas the Clintons had been in high school then and Lewis did not meet them until the 1970s.

Also on Feb. 11, Capehart published a Washington Post column Stop sending around this photo of ‘Bernie Sanders,’  citing Randy Ross, the widow of former Chicago student Bruce Rappaport, as saying her late husband was the man shown standing in a photo (below) that the Sanders’ campaign had been using to illustrate the presidential candidate’s commitment to civil rights.

Both Sanders and Clinton have refrained from comment, thereby stating above the battle. But, as indicated below, the controversy provides a window into the high stakes of the race and the deceptive tactics of candidate surrogates and media organizations to provide a competitive edge to their favorite candidate. More dramatically, we see also how a much-honored civil rights figure stepped forward to set the record straight. 

1960s Civil Rights Student Activist

As a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders led a chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in sit ins that protested the university’s tacit support of segregated student housing in its Hyde Park locale surrounded by black neighborhoods. Sanders also participated in the famed 1963 March on Washington led by famed civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The University of Chicago has long identified Sanders as the man standing in the 1962 photo below left taken by then-student Danny Lyon, who went on to become the official photographer for SNCC and a much-honored photographer and film maker.     

Capehart is a contributor on MSNBC, whose host Chris Matthews presented the controversy as if it were a major campaign scandal that implied devious tactics by the Sanders camp just as he was trying to win African-American support following his strong showings in the white-dominated states of New Hampshire and Iowa. Part the problem is that Capehart reportedly been living for years with a Clinton staffer and has not disclosed that relationship to audiences for his pro-Clinton commentaries.

Bernie Sanders at 1962 University of Chicago CORE sitin Danny Lyon photoIf Sanders had falsely puffed up his civil rights record it would have been one of the worst possible introductions to the heavily black Democratic primary audiences in the South.

But the photographer Lyon stepped forward to confirm that Sanders was the man standing in the photo. Lyon denounced Capehart for his shoddy reporting.

The photo, along with a similar one shown on the next page of this column, is courtesy of the Danny Lyon/Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library).

The Lyon statement, confirmed by his release last week of his “contact sheets” of images when he was developing his images for the university’s student newspaper, brings disturbing scrutiny on the journalistic methods of Capehart, as well as his newspaper and cable colleagues at the Washington Post and MSNBC.

After Capehart’s attacks on Sanders the website Men’s Trait reported in Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally that the pundit has been been living for years with a Clinton staffer.

True, such conflicts of interest between journalists and political advocates are common in Washington and other media centers, and are rarely revealed.

But a factually inaccurate smear by a prominent pundit during a presidential race can easily elevate routine questionable behavior to news, as here. 


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