by Scott Horton
March 7, 2008
Back in the sixties, when the citizens of Alabama wanted to get a fair report on the progress of the Civil Rights movement in their state, they had to turn to the national media, and especially the network news, to get it. The local print and broadcast media would either grossly distort what was going on, or, more likely, they would simply report nothing.
In a sense those days are back. There are a handful of independent papers in the state, but the three Advance newspapers published in the state’s major urban areas, operate to the historical tradition of their most shameful moment. The big offenders, as I have chronicled repeatedly, are the Birmingham News and the Mobile Press-Register. If a special prosecutor is appointed to examine the gross irregularities surrounding the Siegelman case—and calls for that step mount with each passing day—then the inexplicably cozy relationship between the two papers in Birmingham and Mobile and the politically directed prosecutors who pushed the case against Siegelman should be right near the top of the matters investigated. It reflects a press that masquerades as independent and objective while it takes up a partisan sword in a particularly vicious style, slashing away at the roots of civil society.