U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s campaign used false statements about The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to raise money from supporters, the newspaper’s editor said Saturday.
The statements stem from a campaign event Tuesday at which a protester allegedly used a racial slur to describe Walker. On Friday, Walker’s campaign cited the incident in a fundraising email that falsely stated the AJC had not reported on the incident. The newspaper reported the incident in its daily political newsletter, The Jolt, on Wednesday.
Walker’s email also claimed an AJC reporter “laughed in our faces after being told about the racial slur hurled at me.” That’s not what happened. It described the reporter as a man.
An AJC reporter on the scene — a woman — did not hear the racial slur but spoke with Walker’s campaign in person and via text afterward about the incident. She did not laugh about the slur. The AJC’s male photographer on the scene said he had no interaction with the campaign staff about the racial slur.
The one reporter and photographer were the only AJC staffers assigned to cover the event.
“If this racial slur had been used against my Democratic opponent (Raphael Warnock) who is also a Black man, you can rest assured the incident would be covered by every media outlet in Georgia and many across the country,” Walker’s email said.
After the fundraising email was sent, the newspaper reached out to Walker’s campaign staff for a retraction of the statements. The campaign has taken no action.
“We devote ourselves to deep and thorough coverage of politics so that our readers can be fully informed when they make their voting decisions,” Editor Kevin Riley said. “In fact, we have a journalist assigned full-time to the Walker campaign and often have several staff members at campaign events. The complete fabrication of this false story demonstrates why we’re committed to such coverage.
“Voters deserve to know about such a blatantly cynical effort to encourage donations,” he said. “We’re disappointed that the Walker campaign would choose to recklessly impugn and endanger our journalists.”
When asked to identify the reporter who allegedly laughed at a racial slur, Walker’s campaign did not respond. Nor did they respond when asked to provide evidence of their claim.
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