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Little ado about a swastika

WASHINGTON, July 29 (JTA) — Two Democratic senators who touted a West Virginia man at a news conference July 18 as a hero of the American working middle class did not know he had a swastika tattooed on his arm. But it is the reporting of the incident — or lack of it — that has raised many eyebrows in the nation’s capital, where issues often turn partisan. In this case, some say the Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.C.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) — got off easy. Media critics and Republicans suggested that the coverage would have been severe if the news conference was called by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Only the Hill, a Capitol Hill weekly paper, and Associated Press Radio reported the dime-sized tattoo near the wrist of Rickey McCumbers. Both senators said they were unaware of the tattoo when they hailed McCumbers as a prime example of how tax cuts would help working Americans. McCumbers later called his tattoo a teen-age mistake. Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz wrote this week that “the journalists who sat on the story clearly gave the Democrats a pass.” They included, according to Kurtz, an NBC reporter and a CNN producer.