Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Times Watch catches the bias, but misses the revisionist history

Times Watch, in this article titled "Bush and the NAACP -- Bring Up Willie Horton, Ignore NAACP's Notorious James Byrd Ad" somehow misses Adam Nagourney's tiny little twist huge gaping change of historical fact.

Mr. Mehlman’s much-publicized apology to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People seems to have done little to address the resentment that built up over what civil rights leaders view as decades of racial politics practiced or countenanced by Republicans. One example they point to is the first President Bush’s use of the escape of Willie Horton, a black convicted murderer, to portray his Democratic opponent in the 1988 election, Michael S. Dukakis, as soft on crime.

I guess it sounds more palatable for the New York Times to say that the Republicans were picking on a Democrat over the unfortunate case of an escapee committing a few new crimes, except for the inconvenient fact the Willie Horton didn't escape. He was a convicted murderer serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole that Michael Dukakis decided to let out for a few days under his blanket furlough program.

The judge that sentenced Willie Horton in Maryland after his conviction for brutally assaulting Clifford Barnes and raping his fiancée wouldn't even let him go back to Massachusetts so he could be sure Michael Dukakis wouldn't let him out again.

**UPDATE 7/20 2:15PM Clay Waters at Times Watch points out this Boston Globe story that further tries to muddy the status of Horton.

Dukakis could not be reached for comment Friday. As the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, Dukakis was hit by negative ads from national Republicans, including one that used the case of Willie Horton, a Massachusetts inmate who escaped while on furlough and raped a woman and assaulted her husband. That ad has become a storied example of negative campaign techniques.

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