DOSSIER: WLBT Should Be Ashamed for Dishonoring Past with Empty Crime Rhetoric


"As Mike Hurst said, quit denying there is a problem," WLBT proclaimed in an editorial today about violence in Jackson. With that unsigned piece, the NBC affiliate of the Atlanta-based Gray Television, climbed fully on board with U.S. Attorney Hurst's false rhetoric that Jackson leaders and other locals are somehow "denying" gun violence in the capital city. WLBT clearly agrees with the Donald Trump appointee that the solution is more policing, sweeps, roundups and empty rhetoric that do little more than score political points using crime hysteria that often leads the evening news at that station and the other local corporate newscasts as a play for ratings. Of course, Jackson TV stations seldom if ever critically cover policing approaches or report research on what it actually takes to reduce crime in a poor city.

In so doing, WLBT also dishonored its own past of overcoming very racist management starting when Lamar Life Insurance opened it in 1954. Leaders of that local insurance company, like most white leaders then, were anti-integration and sympathetic of the racist Citizens Council that had its national headquarters in Jackson until the 1980s and even had a bookstore for racist materials in its studios' lobby. Like it does now with violence solutions, WLBT then ignored the Civil Rights Movement, as well as gave microphones to open racists (much like national networks including NBC did constantly during Trump's presidential campaign).

Those materials the Citizens Council sold in WLBT's lobby also fixated on crime and violence by black people, advocating massive (then-white) police enforcement, even arguing that black people are more prone to crime, one of the most racist arguments one can make. They sure didn't advocate multiracial, research-based community solutions to preventing violence. The Citizens Council wanted black people locked up and off the streets, and WLBT is echoing

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