A Media Noose for Jeff Sessions
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow and Policy Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was published January 4, 2017 by The Washington Times.
Dishonest media attacks against President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, won’t derail his confirmation. But it’s important to discuss where they come from because not everyone who realizes their origin is comfortable with that conversation.
The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times spent more than a month working on stories that were exclusively about Jeff Sessions and race, to run before Mr. Sessions’ Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Their aim was clear: to try to define Mr. Sessions as a caricature, stepping straight out of the segregated south and into the Department of Justice, ignoring his 20-year career as a United States senator.
There’s only one reason why large news organizations invest so much time, energy and money —- they sent reporters to Alabama, each of whom spent a week there —- to do these biased stories, and it’s time someone said what it is. The reason is because someone, somewhere, deep down doesn’t believe a white man from Alabama should be the attorney general of the United States.
That’s every bit as racist as saying a black man from Chicago shouldn’t be president of the United States.
The anti-white, anti-southern racist obsession with which media organizations have pursued Mr. Sessions is a sign they have learned nothing from the presidential campaign, where we all witnessed their all-out opposition to Donald Trump. There has been no reflection in editorial board meetings, much less in the newsrooms. If there were any, these stories would provide the public with the full picture they deserve of the man who is likely going to be their next attorney general —- the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the country.
That full picture would include multiple endorsements from key African-American leaders, including Gerald Reynolds, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Sen. Quinton Ross, the Senate Democratic leader in the Alabama State legislature. That full picture would include multiple endorsements from the law enforcement community, which has enthusiastically weighed in to support Mr. Sessions’ nomination. The Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs Association, the National District Attorneys Association and many others issued endorsements within days (some within hours) of the announcement.
It’s crucial for the attorney general to have an effective working relationship with national, state and local law enforcement. It’s also important for the senators who will be judging Mr. Sessions to know that Americans’ respect for law enforcement is at a 50-year high. This contrasts deeply with the low approval ratings the public consistently registers for Congress.
Additionally, that full picture would include Mr. Sessions’ 20-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he consistently worked with leading Democrats to pass meaningful bills, including landmark legislation that was signed into law by presidents of both political parties.
In 2003 Jeff Sessions and Ted Kennedy —- yes, that Ted Kennedy —- led the drive to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
In 2010 Jeff Sessions and Dick Durbin —- yes, the same Dick Durbin who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be asking questions of Mr. Sessions —- led the drive to pass the Crack Cocaine Fair Sentencing Act. Mr. Sessions actually first introduced that bill in 2001 and never gave up on it over nine years.
He held strategy meetings in his office with organizations such as the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). The bill was signed into law by President Obama and afterward the LCCR issued a news release praising Mr. Sessions and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
In 2011 conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions and liberal Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut led the drive to pass the Finding Fugitive Sex Offender Act. It also was signed into law by President Obama.
None of these achievements, nor the aforementioned endorsements, were found in either of these stories, each of which were thousands of words long. Jeff Sessions will be the next attorney general despite the national media’s anti-white, anti-southern racism, and the country will be better for it.