TAMPA, Fla. — Race was injected into the national political scene during the opening days of the Republican National Convention.
Racially charged edits to a Wikipedia page, questions about TV coverage of minorities, the firing of a news reporter over a race-related comment made on a hot microphone and other incidents all occurred within 24 hours of Tuesday's convention opening.
Following Utah congressional candidate Mia Love's speech at the GOP convention, her Wikipedia page was edited to include ugly, racist insults. The website was vandalized with a racial epithet and a derogatory term toward women. The changes have since been removed.
"Am I surprised? No. Am I disappointed? Absolutely," Mia Love said of the racial incidents, including those directed at her. "It's certainly not the America we know. And it's not the America Utah knows, so I think that Utah would be disappointed also."
Asked if she was frightened, Love reverted to the purpose of her campaign.
"I'm here first and foremost as a wife and a mother, and my children have this debt looming over their heads, and we're going to do everything we can to remove that," she said.
Her husband, Jason, said those behind the incidents don't share the family's positions and principles.
"Does it hurt us? Does it hurt our feelings? No, because we expected it," Jason Love said. "You can't fight for principles you believe in without people throwing a few stones your way, so it's certainly expected. … That stuff exists."
He said when people "try to single us out or try to criticize us, we're just going to push forward and let that bounce off us."
The incident was criticized by Love's opponent, Democrat Jim Matheson.
"I strongly condemn the disgusting language posted by hackers that defaced my opponent's Wikipedia page," Matheson said in a prepared statement. "There is no place for this type of hate-filled language. That's not who we are as participants in the democratic process."
• Tuesday night's speaker lineup at the Republican National Convention included Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs; Hispanic Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz; former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who is African-American; Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno's wife, Luce Vela Fortuno, who is Hispanic; and Hispanic Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The speakers all discussed the theme of the convention — "We Built This." But they also have something else in common: Their speeches weren't broadcast by MSNBC.
According to a report by Red Alert Politics, the network cut the speeches — all of which were given by minorities — during its broadcast of the event. However, Mediaite cautions, the coverage MSNBC gave to the speeches was similar to the coverage given to the same speeches by different networks.
According to media blog Mediaite, Love's speech was replaced by commercials on MSNBC and Shepard Smith's coverage of Hurricane Isaac on Fox. Sandoval's speech was replaced by hurricane coverage on MSNBC and an interview with Rep. Eric Cantor on Fox.
Cruz's speech was replaced by a panel analysis of the convention on MSNBC, while Fox went to a commercial break and aired an interview with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Fortuno's speech was replaced on MSNBC with more roundtable discussion, while Fox cut to a Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly discussion.
Davis, who seconded President Barack Obama's nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention before recently switching alliances to the Republican Party, spoke at the convention. His speech was covered in its entirety by Fox, while MSNBC aired a panel discussion.
• After two people at the convention Tuesday allegedly threw nuts and taunted an African-American CNN camera operator with a derogatory comment, they were immediately removed by RNC security and police.
"Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior," the convention said in a statement. "Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated."
• In another race-based incident, Yahoo News' Washington bureau chief David Chalian was fired Wednesday after making a comment that was picked up by a hot microphone during an online video broadcast.
"They're not concerned at all," Chalian said, referring to Mitt and Ann Romney. "They're happy to have a party with black people drowning."
The comment was in reference to the fact that the convention was taking place as Hurricane Isaac was making landfall.
"David Chalian's statement was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!" Yahoo News said. "He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended."
• The racially charged hashtag "#negrospotting" — which stumbleupon.com called an "amusing trend" — also appeared on Twitter during the Tuesday night GOP convention speeches.
• Former "American Idol" contestant Clay Aiken also sent a tweet during the convention Tuesday night, saying: "Playing drinking game with my brother now. We drink every time we see a black person on screen at the RNC convention. #soberasamormon."
• The Los Angeles Times, Politico, Washington Post and Harpers published race-themed convention stories Tuesday and Wednesday, while NBC's Chuck Todd accused the GOP of putting minorities in front so the party would look more diverse. NBC's convention video recap page also includes only one Tuesday speech given by a minority — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose parents are Indian immigrants.
Wikipedia's website about Love briefly showed the offensive additions under the "difference between revisions" log, but they were later removed from the public archives. In a "deletion log" for the page, it explains why the comments were removed altogether, classifying the statements as "grossly insulting, degrading or offensive material."
The revisions log did show, however, that an editor appeared to have removed the offending additions from Love's page within minutes.
Wikipedia's website details its policy on vandalism and defines it as "any addition, removal or change of content in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia" and states clearly that vandalism is prohibited. It adds, though, that any "good-faith" effort to add to the encyclopedia is not considered vandalism.
"Examples of typical vandalism are adding irrelevant obscenities and crude humor to a page, illegitimately blanking pages, and inserting obvious nonsense into a page," the website states.
In the incidence of vandalism, users of the website are advised to revert the offending edit, warn the editor responsible for the vandalism and notify administrators, especially if the user persists in the behavior. Administrators are then given the option to block that user from editing.
"The thing Mia always reminds people is that she's no victim and doesn't take this stuff personally and doesn't take it to heart," campaign spokesman Brian Somers said Wednesday. "But it's really indicative of our divisive political situation."
Though Love's camp isn't paying much attention to the incident, Somers said Love has appreciated the support of those who have come out to condemn what was written. Her priority, at this point, is the campaign.
"Mia is focused," Somers said. "Her messages on the positive things she wants to do are out there, and it's not getting sidelined by these vandals who want to spread hatred and these ugly words. That's not something we're bogged down with."
Somers said ultimately, the "ugly attacks" are a distraction from the real issues of politics, such as the economy and voting records. It is not something Love finds surprising.52 comments on this story
"Unfortunately, we've come to expect these kinds of ugly attacks in our race, and I think most politicians expect them," he said Wednesday. "It's really indicative of the divisiveness that we have in the country right now, which is something Mia specifically referenced in her speech last night."
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche