Politician Wants Fairer Treatment: David Duke, Former KKK Leader Who's Now Running for Governor of Louisiana, Says the Press Has Been Biased against Him

By Buckman, Robert | Editor & Publisher, May 4, 1991 | Go to article overview

Politician Wants Fairer Treatment: David Duke, Former KKK Leader Who's Now Running for Governor of Louisiana, Says the Press Has Been Biased against Him


Buckman, Robert, Editor & Publisher


Politician wants fairer treatment

Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke complained to a journalism convention that the press has been biased against him in its coverage and insisted he would willingly sacrifice the media attention drawn by his Ku Klux Klan past if he could receive fairer treatment.

Duke appeared on a panel at the Region 21 convention of Society of Professional Journalists that focused on the topic, "Nothing Too Personal: How Deep Does the Public's Right to Know Go?" The convention drew about 100 journalists from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Also on the panel were Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent for USA Today, and Jay Perkins, a journalism professor at Louisiana State University and a former Washington correspondent with the Associated Press.

"My background is an issue; it's a legitimate issue," Duke conceded, "but it's not the only issue. There is a bias and it exists in newspeople."

Duke, 46, a Republican and former grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, is one of several candidates challenging a fellow Republican, Gov. Buddy Roemer, in this fall's open primary. Duke has been the focus of intense national and international media attention since he won a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1989. Last fall he polled 44% of the vote in the U.S. Senate race.

Duke accused the press of a "double standard," saying it had focused on his Klan past while ignoring that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), a former majority leader, had belonged to the Klan in his youth. "You didn't see every newspaper article saying |former Klansman Robert Byrd,'" he declared.

Duke also cited the attention he had received in the Louisiana press over his being delinquent in paying his local property taxes.

"There's nothing illegal or immoral or unethical about being late in paying your property taxes," Duke asserted. "You don't pay your taxes, they take your house. When they reported the story in the [New Orleans] Times-Picayune it was a front-page story. Later it turned out that Buddy Roemer was late in paying his taxes. Not only was it not on the front page of the Times-Picayune, it didn't even appear. Because [the Duke story] was in the Times-Picayune every paper in the state picked up the story and many papers nationally picked it up."

Duke acknowledged that he receives media attention because of his "notoriety," but he chastised the press for intruding into his personal life, citing press reports that he had has plastic surgery on his nose, and an interview with a former girlfriend.

"My nose has been broken twice and I had my nose repaired," he related. "How many of you have had braces on your teeth? It hurt when they went and talked to an old girlfriend I had 10 years ago."

He said the personal attacks on him and his supporters have become so painful that "sometimes I just get in the shower and let the hot water wipe away the tears.

"I can't judge anyone here," he added. …

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