Now that the dust has settled after the special election in Mississippi on Tuesday, when Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won the U.S. Senate seat vacated by ailing incumbent Thad Cochran, the press is being accused of mishandling coverage of an incident that took place the day before the vote.

The problem began when a local NBC affiliate reported that several nooses and hate signs were found at the Mississippi state capitol in Jackson about 7:15 a.m.

According to an article posted by Alex Griswold, a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon website, the initial report on WLBT quickly led to officials and politicians of all stripes denouncing the incident, and the news “quickly spread throughout the national media.”

“Most outlets uncritically passed along the framing that the nooses had been discovered next to ‘hate signs’” he stated, and tied the story to the controversy over a joke made by ... Hyde-Smith that if a constituent ‘invited me to a public hanging, I'd be in the front row.’"

“Then came a snag in the narrative,” the Free Beacon reporter noted, when at 3:40 p.m., the Mississippi Department of Public Safety released photos of the ‘hate signs’ left by the nooses,” some of which read:

On Tuesday November 27th thousands of Mississippians will vote for a senator. We need someone who respects lives of lynch victims.

We’re hanging nooses to remind people that times haven’t changed.

Griswold then asked: "Who in their right mind saw those signs and made the determination that they were "hateful"? The nooses were rather clearly left by a group critical of Hyde-Smith, her joke and Mississippi's racist past. I struggle to see how any rational person could judge otherwise.”