FAIR  Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
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January 15, 1999

ACTION ALERT: Broadcast Outlets Should Cover Majority Leader's Public Scandal

CNN, New York Times Cover The Story, but Network News Outlets Still Silent on Lott's Racist Connections

Following a series of FAIR press releases and syndicated columnists covering Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's associations with the CCC (Council of Conservative Citizens), CNN's Inside Politics presented a thorough summary of the scandal on January 13.

The very next day, the New York Times' John Kifner focuses considerable attention on Lott's lies about his connections to, and knowledge of, the CCC. ("Lott, and Shadow of a Pro-White Group.") Kifner was interviewed by MSNBC as well.

Lott's record is clear: He has misled the public, and the media, through his spokesman. When reporters raised questions about Sen. Lott's ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), Lott's press secretary, John Czwartacki, told the L.A. Times (12/13/98) that Lott "vaguely" remembered speaking to the group "over a decade ago" before he was a senator. He added that Lott "doesn't consider himself a member. Nor does he have first-hand familiarity or knowledge of their views."

Here's what's known:

  • 1997: Lott holds a private meeting with the CCC in his DC office
  • 1997: Lott endorsement of the CCC is circulated in the group's literature
  • 1995: Lott addresses the Mississippi chapter of the CCC
  • 1992: Lott praises the group as keynote speaker at the CCC's national convention
  • 1991: Lott addreses the Mississippi chapter of the CCC
  • 1989: Lott appears in CCC publication Citizens Informer with his uncle, a CCC executive, and cousin, a member
  • 1990-1998: The Citizens Informer publishes Senator Lott's column

Though Lott now repudiates the CCC, serious questions remain unanswered. Given his prominent role in the impeachment hearings, Lott will undoubtedly be fielding questions from the news media. Those pursuing questions of the hypocrisy of elected officials should question Lott about his own past, especially given his evasiveness on the issue.