"My Life With the Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean



Thompson's assignment was to create a new identity for himself, join "the new Klan," and spend a few months observing it from the inside. (In the newsroom, the cover story was that Thompson had gone into rehab.) That time undercover stretched into a year and a half. His work complemented a major series on the new Klan. As his editor, John Seigenthaler, wrote in the preface to the book that followed: "To get behind their pious platitudes and expose what they really stood for, it was necessary for Thompson to misrepresent who he was. Had there been any other way to expose the Klan, Thompson's underground role would not have been necessary."


Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper, Book

Effects and Outcomes

There was pressure, including death threats and a nuisance libel suit, on the Thompson family well after the series ran in December of 1980. The larger series on the new Klan, published by the Tennesssean, was a 1981 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the prestigious Public Service category. (It was not clear if the Thompson series had been submitted with the nomination package.)

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