PREFACE:
MEDIA HYPE AND POOR-BOY POLITICS
Although it is in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America that
terrorist groups count as a political force today, the United States
is the home of one of the world's oldest such organizations, the
Invisible Empires of the hooded Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Klan is seldom out of American newspaper headlines. Klan
leaders are guests on talk shows and are interviewed on network
TV by Barbara Walters and Tom Snyder, featured on the evening
news and various newsmagazine shows, reported on regularly by
journalists who are syndicated by the Los A ngeles Times and New
York Times services, and profiled in Penthouse,
~ui,
Esquire, by
Harry Crews in Playboy, and in an hour-long PBS special. A black
sociologist interviewed Georgia and California Klansmen in con-
nection with a baseball story in the twenty-fifth anniversary issue
of Sports Illustrated. At a recent Klan rally in Florida, the igniting
of the flaming cross was delayed twenty minutes at the request of
a TV news crew so that the ritual could be shown live on the eleven
o'clock news. When Klansman and talk show celebrity David Duke
announced that his California realm would patrol the Mexican
border against illegal aliens, only eight Klansmen, but more than a
score of news and TV cameramen, showed up.
As the Klan becomes more active, so does its media coverage.
A hooded Klansman, a flaming cross, a pretty blond child in minia-
ture Klan robes are of surefire public interest. The picture goes into
the news section of the daily paper, and there is a Klan story in
the Sunday supplement. For the reader, there is a touch of mystery,
a thrill of danger-and excitement. Guided by the Klan-watching
authorities of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Re-
gional Council, the press has learned to be cautious about the
Klan's own membership estimates, which often run from the tens
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