Monday, March 29, 2004

Mike Wallace did a story on Bush appeals court nominee Charles Pickering on "60 Minutes" last night that left me stunned and speechless. The reason? It was the strongest defense of Pickering's record on race ever aired in the mainstream media.

Pickering, who was nominated by President Bush for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and defeated by Senate liberals, has been portrayed for nearly three years by the Democratic Party (and its media shills) as a sheet-wearing, Old South racist. But Wallace lined up one African-American leader after another who had actually dealt with Pickering in Mississippi, and each one spoke in only glowing terms about Pickering's meticulous fairness and his equal application of the law.

Even the former leader of Mississippi's NAACP was a strong supporter of Pickering's. The current one, Clarence McGee, has opted to toe the standard "Pickering is a racist" line. One riveting moment in the program featured Charles Evers (the brother of the slain civil rights leader Medger Evers) confronting McGee on camera and exposing his absolute lack of knowledge about Pickering. From the CBS transcript:
Charles Evers: You know, maybe you don't know, you know that Charles Pickering is a man helped us to break the Ku Klux Klan. Did you know that?

Clarence McGee: I heard that statement made.

Charles Evers: I mean, I know that. Do you know that?

Clarence McGee: I don't know that.

Charles Evers: I know that. Do you know about the young black man that was accused of robbing the young white woman. You know about that?

Clarence McGee: Nope.

Charles Evers: So Charles Pickering took the case. Came to trial and won the case and the young man became free.

Clarence McGee: I don't know about that.

Charles Evers: But did you also know that Charles Pickering is the man who helped integrate his churches. You know about that?

Clarence McGee: No.

Charles Evers: Well, you don't know a thing about Charles Pickering.
Defending Pickering may just be countercultural enough that it appealed to the iconoclasts at "60 Minutes." Nobody else in the mainstream media has had the courage to portray Pickering's record as it actually is, instead opting to filter it through the distorted lenses of buffoons like Chuck Shumer. The story will likely get lost in the wake of Condoleeza Rice's interview in the same program, but it was an impressive bit of fairness from CBS News, for which they deserve a great deal of credit.

No comments: