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Pennsylvania newspapers refer to white supremacist org as ‘white people’s rights group’

The Philadelphia Daily News picks up a story by the Scranton Times-Tribune and doesn’t seem to have a problem with that phrase. Even worse, the Associated Press editors didn’t see an issue either.

I love it when newspapers and other traditional media get on indy blogs for having “no editorial standards” and then lo and behold, ish like this blows up.  The “problem” started with an story containing an interview with Pennsylvania activist Steve Smith in the Scranton Times-Tribune that failed to mention his long history with the neo-Nazi movement.

Moosic will forbid a white people’s rights group from having a celebration at a borough park Saturday because its leader lied when he applied to use the park, council President Joseph Mercatili said Wednesday.

Borough officials found out the group’s leader, Steve Smith, lied about where he lives when he asked for permission to use Mercatili-Segilia Park for his European American Action Coalition’s third annual European American Heritage Celebration, Mr. Mercatili said.

Even with that, a paragraph later in the article should have given editors a clue about the leanings of the European American Action Coalition:

The coalition’s event included hosting a minor-party presidential candidate who believes the nation is “degenerating” because of the growth of minority populations. The candidate, Merlin Miller, belongs to the American 3rd Position Party, which has been identified by a hate-group tracking organization, Southern Poverty Law Center, as one “initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule.”

Not only that, Smith, 41, was in the news in June for his infamous election to the Luzerne County Republican Committee by one write-in vote (his) in April 24 primary election, where his criminal record and ties to extremist race-hate groups were at the center of the coverage. And yet the Times-Tribune still didn’t make any connection to Smith and extremist race-hate groups in its August story. In any case, they ran this with the headline “Moosic says no to white rights group celebration.” The Philadelphia City Paper, which brought this crap the attention it deserves, aptly also noted that Smith’s history was widely known:

Smith, recruited into the neo-Nazi movement while stationed at Fort Bragg, co-founded Keystone United (formerly Keystone State Skinheads) and is probably Pennsylvania’s most prominent white supremacist. In 2003, he and two other skinheads were arrested after attacking a black man in Scranton.

Yet when sh*t hit the fan did the AP fess up its error in re-publishing this horrendous bit of journalism? Nope. It started the bobbing and weaving…

The Times-Tribune did not respond to a request for comment, but the AP claims that it scrubbed its version of the “white people’s rights” language and was just 93-words. But they refused to provide City Paper with a copy of their story.

What possible purpose would there be for me to send you this story when you’re trying to cause trouble for how it was written?” said an angry Karen Testa, East Region Editor at the AP. Before hanging up, she added: “That’s a good way to build a journalism career.”

What exactly did these editors think a “white people’s rights group” is? And just a week after a skinhead white supremacist massacred Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple?

Journalism is hard.

Hat tip, Crooks & Liars.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding