The New York Times may be unable to bring itself to report Trent Lott's remarks at the birthday celebration for Strom Thurmond, and The Washington Post may be similarly derelict, but once upon a time these papers actually deigned to tell their readers that Lott had ties to the racist Council of Conservative Citizens:
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who last week claimed "no firsthand knowledge" of the controversial Council of Conservative Citizens, six years ago told the group's members they "stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."...
--Thomas B. Edsall, "Lott Renounces White 'Racialist' Group He Praised in 1992," Washington Post, December 16, 1998
If, as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has insisted for a month, he has "no first-hand knowledge" of the views of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which calls itself pro-white, it comes as news to a lot of people back home, including his Uncle Arnie.
"Trent is an honorary member," said Arnie Watson, a former state senator, tax assessor and currently a member of the council's executive board.
"He's spoken at meetings," added Watson....
--John Kifner, "Lott, and Shadow of a Pro-White Group," New York Times, January 14, 1999
Interestingly, this was right after a midterm election in which Democrats, expected to suffer big losses after the release of the Starr Report, gained seats in Congress. So the courtier press must have felt it was acceptable to scrutinize Republican misdeeds.
Now, of course, we've just finished a midterm election widely interpreted as an ass-kicking by the GOP. So the courtier press will not besmirch the reputation of the Republican leader of the Senate.
Anyone have a better explanation?
(By the way, Lott has now apologized, sort of.)