The New York Times keeps shooting itself in the foot. OK, sometimes it shoots itself in the
head. Anyway, today’s foot shot is a photo of Republican Sen. Trent Lott misidentified in the
caption as “the majority leader.” Caption errors are so common in so many newspapers that it
seems churlish to single this one out. But an error such as this speaks volumes about the Times’s
How could the editors of the so-called newspaper of record forget that Lott was ousted as
the Senate’s majority leader in December 2002? It was in all the papers. You remember the
scandal that led to his ouster. It followed Lott’s comment at the 100th birthday party for Sen.
Strom Thurmond that he was proud of Thurmond’s segregationist record. That was in all the
papers, too. Even in the Times.
The mis-captioned photo accompanies a story by Carl Hulse and David E. Sanger, “Republicans Move Fast to Make Experience
of Edwards an Issue.” Somebody was alert enough not to include
Lott’s photo in the online posting of the story. Hooray for the online Times.
Of course, there’s no mention of the scandal or the ouster on Lott’s Web site,
which says merely that he now chairs the Senate’s “powerful Rules Committee” and the Aviation
Subcommittee, and is a member of the Finance Committee and the Select Committee on
Intelligence. But that’s to be expected.
Nor is there any mention of Lott’s “long-term association with a white supremacist hate
group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.” (The
Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch & Militia Task Force calls the CCC “the reincarnation
of the infamous White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s,” Steve Rendell recounts,
terming it “the successor to the ‘uptown Klan.'”) But that’s to be expected, too.
I suppose there’s no point going over old ground like this except to suggest that it’s time the
Times got its act together and that good ol’ boy Lott doesn’t have it so bad when he can be
mistaken for Sen. Bill Frist, of Tennessee, the Republican good ol’ boy who replaced him as
majority leader. That’s in the record, too, even at the Times.