On the 50th anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, The New York Times chose a front page picture of President Barack Obama, his family, and civil rights leaders who were there at the time. Missing from the photo, though only a few people down to the right, were former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura. The Times also focused quite a bit of their story on the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, even though the local and federal investigations into that event found race had zero role in it and they refused to bring charges.
For their front page, the Times curiously chose a picture that did not show the entire front line of marchers, choosing instead to leave the Bushes on the cutting room floor.
Here is the front page of the Times:
On Sunday's front page of The New York Times http://t.co/Rtc2j80mes pic.twitter.com/U9uAIEo3e4
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 8, 2015
And here is a complete picture of the march:
From @jeffmason1: The Obama family and Bush family join marchers to cross Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge. pic.twitter.com/NuMMx4F3XS
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) March 7, 2015
The story does make casual mention of the 43rd President, saying, “Joining Mr. Obama on Saturday was former President George W. Bush, who signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006, as well as more than 100 members of Congress.” It also added, “While sitting onstage, Mr. Bush made no remarks, but rose to his feet to applaud Mr. Obama, and the two men hugged afterward.” But that was it.
No pictures of Bush appeared in the Times’ story.
Ferguson and Michael Brown were mentioned 8 and 3 times (twice by name, once as “unarmed black teenager”) respectively.
The Times described the event in the context of Ferguson, writing:
But coming just days after Mr. Obama’s Justice Department excoriated the police department of Ferguson, Mo., as a hotbed of racist oppression, even as it cleared a white officer in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, the anniversary seemed more than a commemoration of long-ago events on a black-and-white newsreel. Instead, it provided a moment to measure the country’s far narrower, and yet stubbornly persistent, divide in black-and-white reality.
Obama himself referenced Ferguson, saying, “What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic. It’s no longer sanctioned by law or custom, and before the civil rights movement, it most surely was.”
President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder conducted a thorough investigation into the shooting death of Brown and found race played zero role in the shooting, that officer Darren Wilson had been attacked by Brown and acted in self-defense.