Networks Crop Farrakhan out of Photos at Aretha Franklin Funeral, Call Him Part of an 'Inclusive Group'

Former President Bill Clinton (R) and (L to R) Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attend the funeral for Aretha Franklin / Getty
September 4, 2018

The majority of network and cable newscasts ignored or downplayed the presence of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at Aretha Franklin's funeral celebration on Friday, with some even cropping him out of photos despite his presence on the stage.

Farrakhan, who has made a series of rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-white statements in his career, sat alongside Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton at the service. The latter three all gave eulogies at the lengthy celebration.

MSNBC and ABC News posted photos of just the trio of Sharpton, Jackson and Clinton on Twitter, cutting out Farrakhan even though he was seated directly to Sharpton's right.

Farrakhan's presence was mostly ignored by networks covering the funeral, and the only mentions of him were muted in tone.

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell called him "very controversial" but noted his presence there as proof it was an "inclusive group."

"We see Reverend Al, we see Reverend Jackson who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease but was so close to Aretha Franklin and is part of that legacy. Bill Clinton of course there, and is going to give one of the eulogies," Mitchell said. "And also the Reverend Farrakhan, a very controversial leader from the Nation of Islam who is also there. So it's an inclusive group."

On CNN International—CNN's prime network was covering a U.S. Capitol ceremony for the late Sen. John McCain at the time—Michaela Angela Davis called Farrakhan's presence on the stage alongside Clinton a symbol of American "complexity."

"What is striking, I think, for the world to see, is Aretha Franklin is the closest to an American queen as you can get, where you see the American cars, the American style, the American complexity," she said. "We have a former president, Bill Clinton, and Louis Farrakhan on the same stage. So this is really what Aretha Franklin in particular embodies: the complexity and the brilliance and the innovation and the duality of being an American."

Fill-in Headline News (HLN) anchor Lynn Smith merely said, "We saw Louis Farrakhan," while listing off a series of famous people in attendance.

"Inside Edition" briefly covered Farrakhan's attendance, saying it "did not go unnoticed" that he was "given a front-row position of honor at the service."

Fox News discussed and criticized Farrakhan's attendance at the funeral in several segments over the ensuing days. Attorney Alan Dershowitz said on "Fox & Friends Sunday" he couldn't believe Clinton allowed himself to be seated near him, comparing Farrakhan to white supremacist David Duke.

Searches using the media monitoring services and IQ Media Corp showed there were no other media mentions of Farrakhan's attendance.

Published under: ABC News , CNN , Media , MSNBC