The Times Discovers Black Republicans

Jennifer Steinhauer gives the candidates their due, but can't resist a cheap shot: "Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language." The paper has yet to address violence at left-wing May Day rallies or at a protest against Arizona's new illegal immigration law.
Reporter Jennifer Steinhauer's piece on Wednesday, "Black Candidates Pick This Year for G.O.P. Primary Races," is getting some attention. It's already served the salutary purpose of making NBC reporter Luke Russert look both liberal and naive (Russert claimed, with surprise: "...it's quite interesting, these candidates are actually soliciting support from the tea party, a group that a lot of folks have claimed to be racist against African-Americans").

While managing to credit Barack Obama for the rise of viable black Republican candidates and throwing in a cheap shot at Tea Party protesters "holding up signs with racially inflammatory language," Steinhauer provided a mostly fair look at the opportunities and challenges of black Republican candidates:

Among the many reverberations of President Obama's election, here is one he probably never anticipated: at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials.

The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.

But now black Republicans are running across the country - from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.

Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.

....

Many of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown. Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language.

Meanwhile, the Times failed to cover the violence at the pro-amnesty May Day rallies, or the violence at the protests against Arizona's new illegal immigration law.

Steinhauer let Florida congressional candidate Allen West rebut that accusation:

The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. "I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos," said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. "There is no violence or racism there."

There is also some evidence that black voters rally around specific conservative causes. A case in point was a 2008 ballot initiative in California outlawing same-sex marriage that passed in large part because of support from black voters in Southern California.

You can follow Times Watch on Twitter.