Biographer behind report alleging sexual misconduct by Martin Luther King Jr. says other publications rejected his story because they lacked courage

  • A report claiming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was taped by the FBI while watching a friend rape a woman was turned down by several major US news outlets, and The Guardian in London.
  • The author, King biographer David J. Garrow, told INSIDER: “Journalistic courage seems to be in very short supply in the Age of Twitter.”
  • Garrow’s 7,800-word report appeared in the UK’s Standpoint magazine on Thursday, after Garrow offered the story to other outlets which ultimately turned it down.
  • Outlets which declined to run the story included The Washington Post, The Intercept, and The Atlantic, and the US wing of the Guardian, he says.
  • Standpoint editor Michael Mosbacher said The Guardian “jumped” at the story but then mysteriously retracted the offer. They even paid Garrow, he said.
  • Most outlets did not respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

A report which claims that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was taped by the FBI laughing as a friend raped a woman was rejected by US media organisations, the source of the story told INSIDER.

David J. Garrow, a respected biographer of King and former president Barack Obama, says he offered the story – sourced from FBI archives – to at least four outlets either based in, or with major operations in, the US.

Everyone turned him down, and the story ultimately found a home in Standpoint, a British political magazine with relatively limited audience in both print and online. The story, titled “The Troubling Legacy of Martin Luther King,” is due to be published in Thursday’s edition. INSIDER has seen an advance copy.

In an interview with INSIDER about the piece, Garrow said the US outlets did not want to touch the story for lack of “journalistic courage.”

Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for his 1986 biography of King, told INSIDER: “Journalistic courage seems to be in very short supply in the Age of Twitter.” He declined to elaborate.

According to Standpoint editor Michael Mosbacher The Guardian “jumped” at the story and began editing the 7,800-word piece, but then mysteriously retracted the offer at the last minute. They even paid Garrow, he said. The Guardian told INSIDER: “We don’t have any comment to make on this.” Mosbacher said, “Standpoint makes no apology for publishing Garrow’s revelations this month.”

INSIDER has also contacted The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The Intercept for comment, but is yet to receive a response.

In the article, Garrow makes several claims about King’s sexual exploits. He writes how one FBI memo refers to a recording where King “looked on and laughed” as a pastor of Baltimore’s Cornerstone Baptist Church allegedly raped a woman in the Willard Hotel room.

Garrow’s article is based on new FBI memos from a US National Archive data-dump made public in April 2018. Some refer to secret audio tapes of King having orgies and affairs in hotels, Garrow says. The FBI was monitoring King in the 1960s with the hope of discrediting him with gossip leaked to the media.

The King Center – an archive which aims to continue King’s legacy – has not responded to multiple requests for comment from INSIDER.

Read more stories:

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.