USA Today scours hundreds of yearbooks looking for ‘racist’ politicians. Ends up burning one of its own

USA Today landed in an awkward spot when an attempt at nailing conservative politicians as racists led to an apology from one of their own.

Reporters scoured through 900 yearbooks at 120 schools across the country to find any racist photos that included blackface, KKK hoods, and mock lynchings, similar to those found on the medical school yearbook page of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

(Image: PxHere)

“In one of the most extensive searches of college yearbooks ever, we found blackface and Ku Klux Klan photos like Ralph Northam’s far beyond Virginia,” Brett Murphy wrote in a piece published Thursday by USA Today.

“Reporters collected more than 200 examples of offensive or racist material at colleges in 25 states, from large public universities in the South, to Ivy League schools in the Northeast, liberal arts boutiques and Division I powerhouses,” Murphy wrote, noting that in the 1970s and 1980s, a “stunning number of colleges and university yearbooks published images of blatant racism on campus.”

But after the large-scale exercise, the quest for the political holy grail was unsuccessful.

“No politicians were identified by USA TODAY Network’s review,” the article declared, citing the lack of captions, context, and inability to identify faces behind hoods and in blackface.

Yet one unexpected outcome of the study turned the spotlight back on the publication itself:

In one yearbook, from Arizona State University, reporters discovered that USA TODAY Editor Nicole Carroll had designed a page that included a photo of two people, at a fraternity’s Halloween party, in black makeup as actress Robin Givens and boxer Mike Tyson. Carroll, who was editor of the yearbook in 1989 when the photo ran, expressed regret after learning of the photo.


“I was shocked when a colleague told me of my role in publishing a racist and hurtful photo in my college yearbook,” Carroll said in a statement. “I am truly sorry for the harm my ignorance caused then, and the hurt it will cause now, 30 years later.”

The editor explained that she did not even recall working on the page as she addressed the finding in an op-ed titled, “I became part of our story on racist images in college yearbooks. I’m here to apologize for publishing that photo.”

Carroll wrote:

It was recently brought to my attention that I was involved in publishing such a photo when I was in college.

The 1988-89 yearbook I edited at Arizona State University included a photo of two people at a Halloween party dressed as Mike Tyson and Robin Givens. It is horrible, and of course the photo should not have been published.

I am sorry for the hurt I caused back then and the hurt it will cause today.


The USA Today editor-in-chief admitted, “I was shocked as I had no memory of that photo,” and added that she is “crushed by this mistake.”

Carroll vowed to “continue to grow” from the experience but, in fitting response, many social media users turned the liberal media’s narrative back on itself.


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