The Washington Post broke with recent corporate media practice by daring to raise questions about who killed Martin Luther King Jr., as William F. Pepper and Andrew Kreig explain.
By William F. Pepper and Andrew Kreig
For the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder, The Washington Post last week overcame its tainted history of softball coverage and published a hard-hitting account quoting the King family’s disbelief in the guilt of convicted killer James Earl Ray.
The bold, top-of-the-front-page treatment on April 2 of reporter Tom Jackman’s in-depth piece —“The Past Rediscovered: Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.?” — represents a major turning point in the treatment of the case for the past five decades by mainstream media. Print, broadcast and all too many film makers and academics have consistently soft-pedaled ballistic, eye-witness and other evidence that undermines the official story of King’s death.
This time, the Post and Jackman, an experienced reporter, undertook bold but long overdue initiative. One can only hope that it leads to similar coverage — rigorous and fair — for other history-changing events, including current ones that are inherently secret.
The Post’s MLK Success Formula
Jackman’s method was relatively simple. Reporters use it routinely on other stories that are not so politically sensitive as King’s death. In this instance, the reporter quoted family members and other experts and provided balance with other perspectives.
Thus, Jackman wrote near the top of his long column:
“In the five decades since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead by an assassin at age 39, his children have worked tirelessly to preserve his legacy, sometimes with sharply different views on how best to do that. But they are unanimous on one key point: James Earl Ray did not kill Martin Luther King.
“For the King family and others in the civil rights movement, the FBI’s obsession with King in the years leading up to his slaying in Memphis on April 4, 1968 — pervasive surveillance, a malicious disinformation campaign and open denunciations by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — laid the…