This week, the Westboro nutjobs brought their tired, “God Hates Fags” spectacle to the Rev. Billy Graham’s North Carolina backyard. The local paper — the Asheville Citizen-Times — provided front-page coverage.
I’ve said it before, but I’d be perfectly happy if I never had to read another word about Fred Phelps, Westboro’s certifiably wacky pastor, or his family. In most cases, I believe the best media approach to Westboro is to ignore it. In the case of the Asheville story, I don’t know enough about the circumstances to say whether the paper should have covered the “protest” or not.
But if for whatever reason — be it the splash Westboro made in the community or the law enforcement resources assigned to the protest — the Citizen-Times determined that coverage was necessary, then it could have been improved in a few ways.
The top of the story:
ASHEVILLE — A controversial Topeka, Kan., church known for its anti-gay protests at events across the country took aim Tuesday at Billy Graham, saying the renowned evangelist was more interested in wealth and power than preaching the Gospel.
About a dozen sign-carrying protesters from Westboro Baptist Church picketed outside the Billy Graham Training Center in Swannanoa, then traveled to nearby Montreat to continue their protest.
Also on hand were about 20 counterprotesters from Asheville, who called Westboro members a hate group not welcome in North Carolina.
A dozen officers from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Highway Patrol and Black Mountain and Montreat police departments stood by to maintain order.
“Billy Graham is one of the most influential men in the world, but he has