The story details allegations in the recently declassified “JFK files” that King engaged in “orgies” and had an affair with 1960’s folk singer Joan Baez. More insidiously, the article employs two sets of misleading headlines both to excuse Fox News’ behavior and to implicitly discredit Federal investigators closing in on the Trump Administration in the Russia investigation.
One possible reaction to the allegations about King would, of course, be “who cares?” It has been widely known for years that King was alleged to have had affairs and that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover attempted to blackmail and discredit King using this material. The Joan Baez aspect, while mildly amusing, doesn’t add much to the story, given Baez’ recent album sales.
The more insidious aspect of Fox News’ reporting, which may go unnoticed by most readers, is the use of a misleading headline which serves both to excuse Fox News for smearing King and to implicitly cast aspersions on the Justice Department and FBI. The headline on the site’s main page reads “Newly released files reveal feds’ campaign to smear civil rights hero.” However, clicking on the link shows the story under a different headline reading “JFK files link MLK Jr. to multiple affairs, say he possibly fathered child out of wedlock.” Like the second headline, the story itself only details the salacious allegations against King. No mention is ever made regarding whether, why or how this was part of a campaign by the FBI or Justice Department to smear King.
And then there’s this.
Martin Luther King Jr. removing a burned cross from his front yard with his son at his side, 1960. pic.twitter.com/OkahZTIWWU
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPix) November 4, 2017
Is it Just Bad Reporting?
What does this add up to? Because Fox News essentially refuses to report on the indictments in the Mueller Investigation’s Russia probe it has to fill space with something. Stories about sex generate web traffic. Allegations against a liberal icon? Even better, as far as Fox News’ readership is concerned. But how to excuse a hit job on a sainted American icon? Oh, well the story is really about the “feds” persecution of Dr. King. Except, when one goes to the story, it’s not really about that at all. And the best part is that when one shares this article on social media sites, the original headline is tossed off into the ether and the story is simply about King’s perverted sex life. Beautiful.
Featured image: CC0 Public Domain Herman Miller/Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.