One of the duties of journalists—both print and electronic—is to be appropriately skeptical of statements made by those who seek the attention of the reading and viewing public. Journalists are perfectly capable of doing this provided, of course, the individual in question is a conservative, Christian, or Republican. In fact, with conservatives, Christians, and Republicans journalists can be not just appropriately skeptical—they can be obnoxious, rude, and contentious. Clearly, mainstream journalists are guilty of applying a double standard depending on who the speaker happens to be.
When questioning people who refuse to toe the line of liberal orthodoxy, journalists often behave like prosecuting attorneys or, worse yet, angry little brats in a snit. But let the speaker be a liberal black leader—say Al Sharpton for example—and journalists who are supposed to be appropriately skeptical suddenly become sheepishly docile and blindly accepting. As a result, Sharpton and company get away with making some of the most outlandish claims imaginable; claims that go unchallenged by journalists who don’t dare put aside their tacitly agreed to double standard. The double standard mainstream journalists apply when dealing with liberal black leaders is not just unprofessional, it is blatantly biased. Worse yet, it does nothing to help black Americans who find themselves indirectly associated with those who make the ridiculous statements whether they agree with them or not.
When conservative commentator Walter Williams published his first book, The State Against Blacks, a press conference was called to introduce the author and the book. Williams surprised participating journalists by demanding they treat him like a “white man.” By this he meant they should ask him difficult questions, disagree with him, and even demand that he validate his opinions with facts. Several books and hundreds of columns later, Williams no longer has to demand that he be treated like anyone else by journalists. Now that the mainstream media is familiar with his conservative views, Williams gets the same obnoxious treatment journalists give anyone who questions the liberal agenda.
Here is what Walter Williams had to say in a syndicated column about the journalistic double standard applied to black leaders: “People such as former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and former Chairman Julian Bond and the Reverend Al Sharpton can make ludicrous statements. An intimidated news media just swallows the nonsense. They are probably afraid to challenge, lest they suffer guilt feelings of racism or be seen as racists for demanding that a black person back up his comments with facts.” Williams notes that Al Sharpton once claimed that “White folks was in caves while we was building empires.” The Reverend was pontificating about black history at the time. Julian Bond, who is no Al Sharpton and knows better, once claimed, “The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side.”
One expects Al Sharpton to make absurd statements such as this that cannot be backed up with facts—it’s what he does and giving him a pass when doing it is what mainstream journalists do. However, to allow someone such as Julian Bond—a man who marched beside Dr. King at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and who has held responsible positions in government at the national and local levels—to go unchallenged when he equates Republicans with Nazis represents an inexcusable breakdown in journalistic ethics and professionalism. A responsible journalist would have asked Mr. Bond such as questions as: 1) Mr. Bond are you saying that Republicans will build death camps in which they will slaughter millions of black Americans by gassing them as the Nazis did the Jews?” or 2) Mr. Bond, are you saying that Republicans plan to organize a “Krystal Night” in which they will burn and loot black-owned businesses nationwide as the Nazis did to Jewish businesses?” Julian Bond fought as hard as anyone as a warrior in the Civil Rights movement, and what he fought for was equality among the races not favoritism for one race over the others. He was right then, but he is wrong now.
The battle for civil rights in America was a noble cause that had one over-riding goal: to bring equality to all the races by applying the same standard to all. In other words, civil rights leaders wanted Americans to do what Dr. King asked them to do: judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Giving black leaders a pass when they make absurd and purposefully divisive statements is not just irresponsible journalism. It is an abdication of everything Dr. King died for. Al Sharpton and Kweisi Mfume probably don’t care about abdicating Dr. King’s vision, but Julian Bond should. After all, he helped shape it.