As you likely now know, Trent Lott did an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show on Wednesday (audio feed here). He said various things, sort of apologizing, sort of not apologizing. My only reason for hedging about that is that you should really hear what he said for yourself because everyone's going to have a different opinion about his tone, what was spin, and what was sincere.
One thing I do feel compelled to mention is the instance where Lott seemed, frankly, to lie through his teeth. That came when Hannity asked Lott about his association with a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group, which is the successor to the White Citizens Councils from the civil rights era.
(If you think I'm exaggerating by calling them white supremacists, here's what David Keene, head of the staunchly conservative American Conservative Union, told The Washington Post when asked why they barred the CCC from their annual Conservative Political Action Conference: "We kicked [them] out of CPAC because they are racists.")
Here's the exchange between Hannity and Lott about the CCC.
HANNITY: I want you to just--to address this one issue that has been brought up by your critics. You had this controversy some years ago. You spoke to a group called the Concerned Citizens Council (sic). You want to explain that? What, if any, relationship do you or did you have with that organization, which has been accused of having racist points of view?
LOTT: Well, the event they are talking about, I presume, was an open forum for candidates running for public office. And the public was invited, the media was invited. This was not a closed thing. There were Democrats and Republicans there, and African-Americans there. And it was one of those events that you have almost every two years when you have important elections at a small community--you have them all over the state.
You don't usually ask who's sponsoring this thing. Now, in this case, I knew some of the people that were involved, but I also knew that a lot of political candidates were going there, and I said, you know, the things that we support in terms of opportunity for people there that I'd say anyplace else. But the main thing was, it was an open forum.
And here's Lott saying they have the 'right principles and the right philosophy'...
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."
This week, after being asked about a newly surfaced copy of the group's 1992 newsletter, in which he appears to endorse the group and ask for its support, Lott renounced the organization and said through a spokesman he has nothing to do with them.
December 16, 1998
The Washington Post
And here's some hints that Lott may actually be a dues-paying member of the group ...
According to a number of CofCC members, including Dover, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott is a dues-paying member of the group, which is particularly strong in his home state. (Governor Kirk Fordice, for example, is an open and enthusiastic supporter of the group.) The Citizens Informer occasionally carries Lott's freely distributed newspaper column. Moreover, despite Lott's claim that he had "no firsthand knowledge" of the CofCC, Edsall reported on December 16 that Lott addressed the group in 1992, telling the audience members that they "stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."
When I asked Baum--who had just volunteered that Barr was not a CofCC member--whether Lott does, in fact, belong to the group, he said, "We don't deny or confirm whether anybody's a member. If Trent Lott says he's not a member, then put it to bed: he's not a member." When I noted that another CofCC member had told me that there is a record of Lott's membership at the group's headquarters in St. Louis, Baum replied, "There's no earthly way you could obtain that information if it were true." John Czwartacki, Lott's spokesman, says that Lott rejects the group's views and "does not consider himself a member."
January 4th, 1999
The New Republic
And here's information about the columns he's written for the group's newsletter and his meetings with the group's leaders in his congressional office in Washington and in Mississippi ...
During its 10 years of existence, the council has maintained sustained relations with Lott. Photos of Lott at the group's gatherings in Mississippi and of Lott meeting in Washington with its officials have appeared periodically in the Citizens Informer, the organization's quarterly publication. The Informer regularly publishes a column Lott writes and distributes from his Senate office.
One of its earliest publications, the spring 1989 Citizens Informer, pictures Lott as he "talks with relatives, from left, his Uncle Arnie Watson; cousins, Frances and Frank Hodges, and aunt, Eurdise. Arnie Watson, a former State Senator, is a member of the Carroll County Citizens Council's Executive Committee, and Frank Hodges is a member of the Carroll County Citizens Council."
The summer 1997 issue of the Citizens Informer has a picture of Lott meeting "privately at his office with CofCC national officers": Lord, President Thomas Dover and CEO Gordon Lee Baum.
January 13th, 1999
The Washington Post
Every time he opens his mouth he digs himself deeper. First it was nostalgia for the good old days of Jim Crow. Now it's lies.