- Martin Luther King Jr.’s infamous description of Malcolm X may have been fabricated, says a biographer.
- Jonathan Eig found a copy of the original transcript of the interview, the Washington Post reported.
- Eig told the Post that he showed his findings to other King historians, who called him “a real fraud.”
Martin Luther King Jr.The famous criticism that malcolm x it was a “fiery and demagogic oratory” may have been fabricated, according to a biographer.
Jonathan Eig, a journalist writing a biography of Kingwas doing research for the project in the Duke University archives when he found the original transcript of the interview where King gave the quote, the Washington Post reported.
Eig provided the newspaper with a copy of the transcript showing the interview section: published in Playboy by journalist Alex Haley in 1965 — appears to have parts fabricated or taken out of context.
Eig told the newspaper that he shared his findings with several others. king historianswho said that the differences “jumped” as “a real fraud”.
“They’re like ‘OMG, I’ve been teaching my student that for years, and now I have to rethink it,'” Eig told the Post.
It is typical journalistic practice to deal with sources who say their quotes have been misquoted or taken out of context, so King may have made additions to Haley after the interview. Wrapping words or small phrases in quotes like “um” or “like” for clarity is also normal, but the standards of the Society of Professional Journalists say that direct quotes should never be changed significantly.
Eig said on Twitter that King may also never have complained about being misquoted because he rarely complained about press coverage and “probably didn’t read the whole interview.”
—Jonathan Eig (@jonathaneig) May 10, 2023
King is quoted in the Playboy interview as saying that Malcolm X “has done great harm to himself and our people,” a phrase that does not appear in the transcript, according to the Post.
King is also quoted as saying that malcolm x it is a “fiery, demagogic oratory on black ghettos, urging black people to arm themselves and prepare to engage in violence.” King says this in the transcript, but says it as part of a lengthy overview after Haley asks for her “opinion on black extremists who advocate gun violence and sabotage,” the newspaper reported.
Eig called the manipulation of King’s quotes “journalistic malpractice” and that Malcolm and King “believed radical steps had to be taken to change America.”
Eig said all of Haley’s work should now come under intense scrutiny, including her autobiography of Malcolm X collected through interviews between 1963 and 1965. Haley died in 1992.
The King Center, the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation and Playboy did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment on Wednesday.