In an age in which major reporting errors can cause great harm in minutes as they are repeated via social media, corrections often go unnoticed. Associate Professor of Sociology Jenny Irons reacted quickly to a serious error made by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart last week when, in Iron’s words, he “lampooned Dick Molpus.” The white Secretary of State and civil rights champion, Molpus was responsible for registering Mississippi’s 1995 decision to ratify the 13th amendment abolishing slavery with the Office of the Federal Registrar. Unbeknownst to Molpus, a clerical error prevented registration of the ratification.
Irons, who had worked for Molpus in the early 1990s, wrote an opinion piece in the Huffington Post titled “Civil Rights Champion Falsely Accused by Jon Stewart” in which she corrected the mischaracterization. She wrote, “Very few white politicians have stood up to racists in Mississippi's history, even since 1964. Dick Molpus has, and he continues to do so. He has championed civil rights and equal opportunity for all for years, from his work in Governor William Winter's office to his days as Secretary of State to his involvement in the founding of Parents for Public Schools (in a city and a state where racists were responsible for creating a massive private school system).”
Stewart corrected himself on a subsequent broadcast the following week.