Washington Post chairman unaware of Obama-Common controversy until shareholder asks, despite running story on it

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

Washington Post Company chairman Donald Graham told shareholders Thursday morning that he was unaware of the controversy surrounding the rapper known as Common, whom Michelle Obama has invited to a poetry event, until Cliff Kincaid of the watchdog group Accuracy in Media asked him about it. Graham apparently missed a story on the front page of his newspaper’s Style section*, which offered a defense of Common’s lyrics.

“Mr. Kincaid, I thank you for informing me of something I didn’t know about,” Graham said. “You have brought our attention to an interesting controversy.”

At the annual meeting of stockholders, Kincaid, himself a Post stockholder, pushed Graham to comment on why he allowed his newspaper to run a story defending Common’s “civic-minded protests of corrupt law enforcement and unjust legal proceedings.” Kincaid pointed out that Graham began his career as a police officer in Washington, and asked him why he’d allow a defense of someone who supported convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard, who’s also known as Assata Shakur.

Graham wouldn’t comment, and adjourned the meeting quickly.

*This story has been corrected.