This old reporter is a firm believer in a wall of separation between news and opinion.
But on the news side of the wall, it behooves reporters to provide context to the reader. That’s not opinion. Context is essential to genuine fair and balanced news.
Jonathan Weisman and Maya King of the New York Times are top notch reporters. But their double-bylined piece announcing Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential candidacy woefully lacked context when they wrote that he is “the first Black Republican elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction.”
They failed to note that Scott is an unabashed conservative – he voted the Trump position on legislation 96.7 percent of the time, according to Roll Call. But, the three Black Reconstruction era senators — Blanche Bruce of Mississippi, P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana, and Hiram Revels of Mississippi — were liberals and proud of it.
I ultimately forsook the newsroom for classroom and taught history in a community college for two dozen years.
History instructs that the multiracial Reconstruction Era GOP championed strong federal civil rights action. Heirs to the party of “Lincoln and Liberty,” Republican lawmakers championed the 14th Amendment to the constitution, which made Blacks citizens, and the 15th Amendment, which put the ballot in the hands of Black men. Republicans also pushed to passage the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
Scott and the rest of the nearly all white GOP today vehemently oppose the federal civil rights activism that Bruce, Pinchback, and Revels championed. Scott and almost all other Republicans deny the existence of structural racism in American society.
Scott and every other Republican senator make an F on the current NAACP Civil Rights Legislative Report Card. (Scott scored 13 out of 100 percent.)
Tim Scott is indeed the first Black Republican senator since Reconstruction. But he’s no Blanche Bruce, P.B.S. Pinchback, or Hiram Revels. That’s not opinion – it’s a fact.