Reparation Data Sheet

This is not a post but a data sheet for an article being prepared for the Poynter Institute. I will link to that article if and when it is published. The purpose here is to provide a transcript of news articles and analyses concerning Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s outrageous remarks at an Oct. 8 rally for Nevada Republicans.

Rather than summarize my data in the article, I will link to this page for any Poynter viewer who wishes to see my excerpts.

My intent is to explore how major news media covered the Tuberville speech. Specifically, I want to know if the outlet defined “reparations,” linked to its history and cited H.R. 40, Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

This is a non-scientific snapshot whose purpose is not to advocate for or against reparations but to set an ethical standard for journalists covering racial narratives that lapse into “fake history.”

Here is a brief video segment by CBS’s Gayle King who includes Tuberville’s speech, defines reparations and cites legislation.

Note: This segment was not included in the study.

On Oct. 10-11, I pasted his comment into Google News and then accessed reports from major media that included it in their posts. Those links and excerpts appear below.

Coded here are No. 1, “definition of reparations” (defined); No. 2, “link to its meaning/history” (linked); and No. 3, “reference to legislation” associated therewith (cited).

Only one medium, BuzzFeed, provided a definition, linked to historical content and mentioned H.R. 40 or other legislation. Five provided a definition, five linked to history and nine cited legislation.

Here are my findings in alphabetical order for the following news outlets: Associated Press, BuzzFeed, CBS News, Daily Beast, The Hill, Mother Jones, NBC News, Newsweek, NPR, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Vanity Fair, Washington Examiner and Washington Post.

Associated Press

Senator: Dems back reparations for those who ‘do the crime’

Excerpt: The Democratic Party has not taken a stance on reparations for Black Americans to compensate for years of unpaid slave labor by their ancestors, though some leading Democrats, including President Joe Biden, back the creation of a national commission to study the issue.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1]


A Republican Senator Is Being Called “Ignorant” For His Racist Comments About Enslaved People’s Descendants

Excerpt: Reparations refers to the process of compensating the ancestors of enslaved people for the suffering they endured, as well as centuries of the systemic inequality spawned by slavery.

Democrats have no official party position on reparations, although a bill to study the issue received support from a House of Representatives committee last year and has since stalled in Congress.

The NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the US, condemned Tuberville, who is a strong ally of Donald Trump and who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

[defined: 1; linked: 1, cited: 1]

CBS News

GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville faces backlash for controversial comments on Democrats and crime

Excerpt: The Democratic Party does not support reparations for African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved, but the topic arose during the 2020 presidential campaign. Nearly all Democrats running for the party’s presidential nomination, including President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, supported studying the issue.

A bill introduced in the House by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas to create a commission to study and develop reparations proposals has broad support from her fellow Democrats in the lower chamber and was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in April 2021 with backing from its 25 Democratic members. The committee’s Republican members opposed the legislation.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1]

Daily Beast

Sen. Tommy Tuberville Goes on Racist Rant Over ‘Reparations

Excerpt: Saturday’s Donald Trump rally in Nevada naturally featured some extremist comments, chief among them a false—and racist—tirade from Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who claimed that Democrats are in favor of “reparations” because they are “pro-crime.” 

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 0]

The Hill

Tuberville reparations remarks bring renewed attention to House bill

Excerpts: Democrats and advocates pounced on the remarks instantly, decrying the comments as racist and harmful. But the controversy is shining a light some say could be critical to a years-long legislative push to form a commission to study reparations that supporters hope might still move forward before 2023.

The commission bill, known as H.R. 40, was first introduced by the late Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) more than 30 years ago and filed by the congressman again and again throughout his time in office until he retired in 2017.

It didn’t receive its first markup and committee action until last year, after it was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on the heels of the nation’s racial reckoning following the police murder of George Floyd in 2020.

More than a year has passed since the House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill in a historic vote, and some proponents are hopeful they’ll see action on it during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Advocates argue reparations are needed to address the harms of slavery and historical discrimination that continue to permeate society in the present, including in areas spanning housing, health care, education, the environment and others.

[defined: 0, linked: 1, cited: 1]

Mother Jones

Tommy Tuberville Decries Reparations as Payments for “People That Do the Crime”

Excerpt: Reparations are financial recompense for Black people whose ancestors were enslaved and lived through Jim Crow. The policy of giving reparations to Black Americans has support on the left, but it is not the policy of the Democratic Party. President Joe Biden has said he supports a study on reparations, which is in the party’s 2020 platform, but has ignored calls to create such a commission to enact the policy. Democrats do not support violent crime as a way of seizing property to compensate for the harms done by slavery and legal oppression.

[defined: 1, linked: 0, cited: 1]

NBC News

NAACP denounces ‘flat out racist’ remarks by GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville at Trump rally

Excerpt: Some Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for studying proposals that the federal government issue reparations to Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves. Legislation on that front, however, has stalled on Capitol Hill.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1]


Republican Tuberville Accused of ‘Open Appeal to Racism’ at Trump Rally

Excerpt: Reparations advocates say that descendants of slaves should be paid financial compensation for their uncompensated work and the historic racism they say has led to financial disparity between races. The NAACP defines reparations as “a financial recompense for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves and lived through the Jim Crow era.”

[defined: 1; linked: 1; cited: 0]


Alabama Sen. Tuberville equates descendants of enslaved people to criminals

Excerpt: Over the years, there’s been growing support to offer reparations for Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved as a way to address the lingering effects of slavery.

Last spring, a bill to study reparations for slavery had the support of more than 170 Democratic co-sponsors. A House committee voted to advance the legislation but it has yet to be considered by the full House of Representatives.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1

Rolling Stone

Watch Trump Crowd Eat Up Sen. Tuberville’s Bizarre Racist Tirade

Excerpt: Reparations, according to the NAACP, are “a financial recompense for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves and lived through the Jim Crow era.” They are meant to compensate those whose families lost or were unable to build generational wealth due to slavery and Jim Crow era racist policies, including the redlining of majority white neighborhoods to prevent Black people from purchasing homes there.

[defined: 1, linked: 1; cited: 0]

USA Today

GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville promotes racist narrative about Black people, crime at Trump rally

Excerpt: A call for reparations for descendants of African slaves has been around for decades and has grown in recent years. Reparations could involve an apology for slavery, payments, land grants and more.

[defined: 1; linked: 0; cited: 0]

Washington Examiner

GOP senator claims Democrats want reparations for those who ‘do the crime’

Excerpt: Reparations for U.S. descendants of slaves have been discussed by some Democratic lawmakers. Democrats on one House committee, with control of the majority, took an unprecedented step last year to advance legislation to examine whether the federal government should provide slavery reparations to African Americans. Republicans have generally been opposed to giving reparations, citing the amount of time passed and the complexity of finding direct descendants.

[defined: 0; linked: 1; cited: 1]

Washington Post

Democrats call Sen. Tuberville’s comments about crime and reparations racist

Excerpt: Although a handful of Democrats in Congress have expressed support for reparations for Black Americans who descended from people enslaved in the United States, the Democratic Party as a whole does not support the idea. House Democrats have backed a bill that would create a commission to study reparations, but there has not been enough support in the Senate from Democrats or Republicans for the legislation. As a result, some prominent Democrats have encouraged President Biden to sign an executive order that would create the commission.

While Biden has not signed an executive order, he backed plans to study reparations while campaigning for president in 2020, a position he has maintained since he took over the presidency.

[defined: 0; linked: 0; cited: 1]

Vanity Fair


The condemnation of the Alabama senator’s comments, especially by the media, was harsh and swift.

[defined: 0; linked: 0; cited: 0]

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