Roland Martin ‘Shocked’ by Claims that Black Pastors are Encouraging Congregants to Stay Home on Election Day
In an article written for CNN, syndicated columnist and TV One political commentator Roland Martin chastised the Associated Press for running what he views as a misleading story about black pastors encouraging their congregations to stay home on Election Day.
According to Martin, he was “stunned” by the attention-grabbing headline: "Some black pastors are telling their flocks to stay home Election Day."
To his consternation, numerous media outlets that rely on and trust the Associated Press, the world’s oldest and largest news gathering organization, including EEW Magazine, picked up on the story.
Martin, in his pointed response article, clarifies where the assertion originated.
It “comes from a quote, lifted from another newspaper,” he said.
Specifically, Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant told the Washington Informer, "This is the first time in black church history that I'm aware of that black pastors have encouraged their parishioners not to vote."
After reading that statement in the article, news editors immediately saw Bryant’s commentary as support for the article’s original claim that some black pastors were, in fact, steering congregants away from the polls come November.
But Martin says the AP reporters should have connected with Bryant directly to gain better perspective on what he said, rather than relying on what he calls “third-hand reporting.”
"In reading the piece, Zoll and Barrow quote or mention pastors A.R. Bernard, Jamal Bryant, George Nelson Jr., Floyd James, and Howard-John Wesley, Lin Hill and Dwight McKissic," wrote Martin. "Not a single one of these pastors was quoted as saying they have or plan to tell their congregations not to vote in the presidential election. Not one."
When contacted about this story, the AP said it "stands by the version of the story that we distributed, separate and apart from versions that deviated from our own text."
There were some respondents to the piece, however, that told EEW Magazine they do not intend to participate on Election Day.
It remains to be seen how the numbers will shape up when voting day arrives.
According to a new Washington Post-ABC news poll, five months ago, 83 percent of African Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Obama, but that number has dropped to 58 percent.
The poll shows that overall, blacks still hold a generally favorable view of the president with 86 percent saying they view him at least somewhat favorably.