As Media Matters has documented, Fox News and conservative media figures have used the phony scandal surrounding the Justice Department's treatment of the New Black Panther Party to engage in blatant race-baiting. Yesterday, Dave Weigel ripped Fox News for their "minstrelsy" obsession with both the case and the New Black Panther Party. Today, in a post at The New Republic, Jon Chait highlights Fox News' attempts to use the case to "exploit racial fears against Obama":
What you're starting to see from Fox News now, though, is the most widespread and mainstream right-wing effort to exploit racial fears against Obama. The putative issue is the claim that the Obama Justice Department is failing to prosecute a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. If you're interested in the merits of the case, which are extremely flimsy, a good rundown can be found at Fourth Branch. Even if the conservative interpretation of this event were actually true, it's obviously a tiny matter. Nobody has produced a voter who even claims to have been intimidated -- the voters at the polling station were virtually all black anyway -- nor is there any credible claim of anything remotely approaching a systematic attempt to intimidate white voters at the polls.
At a recent town hall meeting, conservative protesters exploded with rage when Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman denied that Obama's Justice Department has a policy of never prosecuting African-Americans. There has been a great deal of right-wing insanity unleashed over the last year and a half, but this is the first time that the fear has an explicitly racial cast. You now have the largest organ of movement conservatism promoting Limbaugh's idee fixe that the Obama administration represents black America's historical revenge against whites.
Yesterday, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers poked holes in Megyn Kelly's campaign to promote the phony scandal involving the Department of Justice's handling of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. Kelly told Powers: "You don't know what you're talking about." But it was Kelly who made false and misleading statements to back up her case.
During the interview, Kelly told Powers: "And unlike you, I have read the testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Bartle Bull, a lifelong Democrat who worked for Robert F. Kennedy was given a civil rights award by Ted Kennedy, who happened to be at the polling station that day, testified that this was the worst case of voter intimidation...he had ever seen in his life." In fact, if Kelly read Bull's testimony, she would have known that Bull himself acknowledged that he was "troubleshooting on Election Day for the McCain Campaign." Bull also told Kelly that that he "didn't like Obama from the beginning" and "thought he was a hustler." Bull currently serves as chair a campaign to draft Rudy Giuliani to run for New York Governor.
When Powers asked Kelly if she asked conservative activist J. Christian Adams "about when he was in the Bush administration and how politicized that office was and how they only hired conservatives and how there's an entire GAO report?" Kelly responded: "If you watched the interview -- I have asked him." She later commented: "I did. I asked him." Kelly did ask Adams about complaints from the left that "the voter registration requirements of the voter registration law were not being followed" and calls for then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales needed to do more, asking: "What you're alleging now Christian, is it just politics? A tit-for-tat?" Kelly did not, however, ask Adams about his role as conservative activist and "exhibit A" of the politicized hiring in the Bush Justice Department.
Powers also told Kelly: "I cannot believe that this one case, after all the cases that were dismissed during the Bush administration, is getting the amount of attention that it's getting. I find it absolutely shocking." Kelly responded: "Let me tell you why. Because the voting place is sacrosanct." Kelly made no effort to square her current outrage with reports that the Bush Justice Department declined to pursue similar allegations against members of the Minutemen, one of whom reportedly carried a gun in 2006 while harassing Hispanic voters in Arizona. The incident was reportedly referred to the FBI, but as Thomas Perez testified, the DOJ "declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" "when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish."
Fox News' obsession with the phony scandal surrounding the Justice Department's treatment of the New Black Panther Party follows more than 50 appearances by members of the New Black Panther Party on Fox News shows dating to 1998. Earlier today in an Atlantic blog post, Dave Weigel highlighted one of those appearances and wrote:
This isn't journalism. No one cares what the NBPP thinks about anything. This is minstrelsy, with a fringe moron set up like a bowling pin for Hannity to knock down. And that's the role the NBPP plays on Fox, frequently.
Weigel wrote that Fox News' recent reportage on the trumped-up controversy was "obviously not a search for justice or a muckraking effort to discover reverse racism in the DOJ," but rather resembled "a popular myth that went around Iowa in 1966, the year of the conservative backlash against the Great Society." Citing Rick Perstein's Nixonland, Weigel continued:
The myth was that black gang members on motorcycles were going to head from Chicago to ransack Des Moines. Reading this in 2008, it sounded preposterous, the kind of thing that no one could believe in the country that was about to elect Barack Obama. But Kelly, under the guise of journalism, is working to create a rumor like this in 2010. Watch her broadcasts and you become convinced that the New Black Panthers are a powerful group that hate white people and operate under the protection of Eric Holder's DOJ.
Promoting an America Live segment on the bogus allegations of racial preferences at the Department of Justice in the New Black Panther Party case, Sarah Palin wrote on her Twitter account that Megyn Kelly "knows the case" and is "speaking truth." Media Matters has documented Kelly's track record of advancing J. Christian Adams' baseless accusations about the Justice Department's actions in the case. During the segment Palin promoted, the New York Post's Kirsten Powers called Fox News' race-baiting "doing the scary black man thing."
From Palin's July 13 post on her Twitter account:
From the July 13 edition of Fox News America Live:
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Media figures have emphasized the fact that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is technically "bipartisan" to hype its investigation of the Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panther Party case. In reality, the commission's chair has acknowledged that conservatives "gam[ed] the system" and packed the panel with conservative activists, and the commission's two Democrats, as well as one Republican, have criticized the investigation.
J. Christian Adams claimed the Justice Department's decision to dismiss a voter registration lawsuit against Missouri demonstrates the Obama administration's "record" of hostility to voting laws. In fact, the highly controversial Bush-era case has been connected to the politicization of the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys scandal, and was dismissed due to outdated evidence.
The trumped-up allegations that the Obama Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in its handling of the New Black Panther Party case jumped from Fox News to CNN this morning. Anchor Kyra Phillips hosted Republican activist J. Christian Adams, whom she referred to as a "whistleblower," to repeat his unsubstantiated accusations, which are based on hearsay and charges made by other people.
One of the on-screen graphics described Adams' allegations as "Voter intimidation scandal at Justice Dept.":
During the segment, Phillips discussed the Commission on Civil Rights' investigation into the case with Ashley L. Taylor Jr., a Republican member of the commission. Phillips said that the investigation has "divided" the commission and that two commissioners were Democrats. She then read a portion of a statement from Michael Yaki, a Democratic member of commission, that criticized the commission's months-long investigation as "incredibly shallow," "partisan," and "a one-sided farce."
But Yaki isn't the only member of the commission to criticize its investigation -- Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chair of the panel, has done the same.
Michael Yaki, a Democratic member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, has released a statement criticizing the "far-right majority" on the Commission for scheduling the testimony of right-wing activist J. Christian Adams at a time when commissioners critical of the manufactured controversy surrounding the New Black Panthers Party case -- including Republican vice chairwoman Abigail Thernstrom -- could not attend. Yaki called the investigation into the case "shallow, expensive, and partisan" and "reminiscent of an inquisition, a star chamber, and a witch hunt."
Yesterday, Thernstrom encouraged readers to "forget about the New Black Panther Party case," which she called "small potatoes, commenting that "too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case." Yet right-wing media continue to promote the phony allegations.
Read Commissioner Yaki's full statement after the jump:
Right-wing media continued trumpeting completely unsubstantiated allegations that the Department of Justice -- and Attorney General Eric Holder specifically -- dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party because the defendants were African-American. In fact, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez testified that the charges were dropped after attorneys at the Civil Rights Division determined that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the three defendants.
J. Christian Adams' accusations that President Obama's Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in the New Black Panther Party case do not stand up to the evidence. Adams is a right-wing activist tied to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department who has admitted he lacks first-hand knowledge of the events he is discussing, and his claims fall apart given the fact that the Obama DOJ obtained judgment against one defendant, while the Bush DOJ declined to pursue similar allegations in 2006.
Taking subterfuge to a new level, Fox News this morning hosted Dana Perino to promote the right-wing hatchet job against the Obama Justice Department with a straight-faced denial that nothing similar happened during the Bush administration. It did. And while she worked there.
To review, right-wing media have taken the lead of GOP activist and "exhibit A" of the politicized Bush DOJ, J. Christian Adams, to accuse President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder of racially charged corruption tied to the Justice Department's decision not to pursue additional charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for allegedly intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia polling center in 2008. After the Bush administration chose not to pursue criminal charges against the party, its leader and the two members standing outside the polling center, the Obama administration's Justice Department successfully obtained civil judgment against Samir Shabazz for carrying a weapon outside the polling center while withdrawing civil charges against the other three parties.
Despite this fact -- which is not in dispute -- Fox News continues to dishonestly present Adams' specious case as if it's in any way plausible. Perino, for her part, synopsized Adams' allegations and philosophized:
PERINO: I don't know if we'll ever find out the truth. I know that if I -- when I was press secretary, and the situation had been reversed -- I definitely would have been asked if the White House knew about it. Or at least what the White House thought about it, because what we should get now from the Justice Department is at least some sort of an explanation as to why they thought it wasn't a good case.
Apparently no one will "find out the truth" watching this channel. More after the jump.
Fox News' Special Report highlighted a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights commissioner's support of an investigation into the Justice Department's handling of a case involving the New Black Panthers hearing. But Special Report ignored the commission's Republican vice-chair's suggestion to "forget about" the case, calling it "small potatoes."
Megyn Kelly falsely characterized a documentary about the New Black Panther Party as evidence of "the incident" that gave rise to a Justice Department investigation into alleged voter intimidation on Election Day 2008. But according to the general counsel for the Civil Rights Commission, the video was completed before Election Day.
As viewers watch Fox News dishonestly hype GOP activist J. Christian Adams' unsubstantiated accusation that the Justice Department under president Obama engaged in racially charged corruption, they should know that Adams reportedly was hired by Bradley Schlozman, a Bush-era political appointee who was found to have inappropriately considered political affiliation when hiring career attorneys.
A post today on the legal news website Main Justice reported that Joseph Rich, the former chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, confirmed that Adams was hired by "Bradley Schlozman, who was then a deputy assistant attorney general and later became acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division." Rich reportedly called Adams "exhibit A of the type of people hired by Bradley Schlozman."
A July 2008 report from the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Schlozman "considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys in violation of Department policy and federal law." The report also concluded:
The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law -- the Civil Service Reform Act -- and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct. The evidence also showed that Division managers failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices. Moreover, Schlozman made false statements about whether he considered political and ideological affiliations when he gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his written responses to supplemental questions from the Committee.