The New York Times' Mark Leibovich wrote that "supporters" of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign "were accused of racially tinged attacks and innuendo against" Sen. Barack Obama. But Leibovich neither identified the "racially tinged attacks and innuendo" that he said Bill Clinton and other supporters have been accused of making nor noted that her campaign has vigorously disputed such accusations.
In a February 2 New York Times article, headlined "Clinton's Gradual Education on Issues of Race," reporter Mark Leibovich wrote that "supporters of Mrs. Clinton's campaign -- and chiefly, her husband -- were accused of racially tinged attacks and innuendo against" Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "before the South Carolina primary." But Leibovich neither identified the "racially tinged attacks and innuendo" that he says Bill Clinton and other supporters have been accused of making nor noted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) campaign has vigorously disputed the accusation that it has engaged in such attacks.
Additionally, Leibovich asserted as fact that the Clinton campaign engaged in "charged rhetoric" in South Carolina, writing: "Even as the charged rhetoric of South Carolina subsides, race will no doubt persist as a theme for as long as Mr. Obama is running, the contest is close and emotions run raw." Leibovich gave no indication that what he was presenting as fact is sharply disputed by the campaign.
Reporting on a January 27 Hillary Clinton press conference the day following the South Carolina primary, The Washington Post's Anne E. Kornblut noted that "Clinton denied that her husband had been adding to harmful divisions within the Democratic party with recent statements about Sen. Barack Obama. In fact, Clinton said, her husband was someone who 'brought our country together' when he was president. He was, she said, a president who sought to 'repair the breaches and mend the divides' between blacks and whites by defending affirmative action and creating a commission on civil rights."
On the January 31 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson dismissed the notion that Bill Clinton injected race into the election. Co-host Mika Brzezinski asked: "Is [Bill Clinton] being mischaracterized in the press. Or what do you make of what's going on?" Wolfson replied: "I think the notion that Bill Clinton tried to inject race into the campaign is untrue. This is a man who has spent his entire life bringing people together, crossing the divides in our nation, and I reject completely the notion that he was engaged in anything like that."
In addition, in writing about Bill Clinton's January 26 comment that "[Rev.] Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88, and he ran a good campaign, and Senator [Barack] Obama's [D-IL] running a good campaign here, he's run a good campaign everywhere," Times reporter Katharine Q. Seelye noted in a January 28 post on the Times' political blog The Caucus that Jackson himself said that he did not "read anything negative into Clinton's observation." The post also quoted Jackson saying: "Bill has done so much for race relations and inclusion, I would tend not to read a negative scenario into his comments."
Leibovich's article follows a February 1 Times article by Seelye and Raymond Hernandez that asserted that "Mr. Clinton thrust himself into his wife's campaign ... with remarks that various Democratic officials have labeled racial and divisive," but, like Leibovich's article, neither identified any "racial" remarks Bill Clinton had purportedly made nor noted that the Clinton campaign has vigorously disputed that accusation.
From the February 2 New York Times article:
Mrs. Clinton has seen her support among blacks as central to her political identity. She has had many African-American friends and advisers, racially diverse staffs and a Senate voting record that has earned straight A's from the N.A.A.C.P. Even her rival, Senator Barack Obama, said in a debate that he is "absolutely convinced" of Mrs. Clinton's commitment to racial equality.
But that career's worth of good will became somewhat frayed after supporters of Mrs. Clinton's campaign -- and chiefly, her husband -- were accused of racially tinged attacks and innuendo against Mr. Obama before the South Carolina primary. Mr. Obama went on to rout Mrs. Clinton on the strength of strong support from blacks, a constituency Mrs. Clinton had courted hard.
The tone of the Clinton campaign deeply dismayed some African-Americans who had been close to the Clintons, including Eric Holder, a former top Justice Department official and Obama supporter. "It places their legacy at risk," Mr. Holder said.
Even as the charged rhetoric of South Carolina subsides, race will no doubt persist as a theme for as long as Mr. Obama is running, the contest is close and emotions run raw. "I think everyone is trying to find their way, here," Mrs. Clinton said.