In an effort to salvage the discredited allegations of racism in the Justice Department, Hans Von Spakovsky now claims that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigation is "no longer primarily about" the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. Instead, he claims, it's about "sworn testimony" that DOJ official Julie Fernandes "instructed Voting Section lawyers that no cases would be brought against any black or other minority defendants no matter how egregious their violations of the law."
Von Spakovsky did not say what "sworn testimony" established this, but in his testimony, DOJ activist and so-called "whistleblower" J. Christian Adams testified that he "was told by Voting Section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." Adams' accusation, however, is based entirely on conjecture and hearsay:
DAVID BLACKWOOD (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights general counsel): That is extremely important -- these instructions. Were you there when they were given?
ADAMS: I was -- I was present at one instance when the statement was made, and Mr. Coates gave me a recollection of a second time that instructions were given in a management situation.
BLACKWOOD: Okay. The first time, when you were present, who made the statement?
ADAMS: Okay. Two things. The statement was that we were in the business of doing traditional civil rights work, and, of course, everybody knows what that means, and helping minorities -- helping -- litigating on their behalf.
That statement was made by Julie Fernandes, who is the DAAG.
This is nowhere near establishing that Fernandes ever said that "cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." And in fact, the Obama Justice Department has twice pursued injunctions against black defendants for voting law violations.
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.
Earlier today, J. Christian Adams called on readers to "ponder" how the Justice Department's handling of voter intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party could "restrain future enforcement activity against intimidation." Imagine, Adams asks, if the allegations involved white men harassing minority voters:
Think about this -- even taking the facts in the most favorable light for the defenders of the dismissal, ponder how it restrains future enforcement activity against intimidation. There may come a day when two skinheads are in front of a poll, say, in suburban Atlanta. The precinct is 90 percent white, but about 10 percent African-American. One has a baseball bat, but the other does not. They are dressed identically in skinhead uniforms with swastika insignia. They work together and shout racial slurs we all know and hate. Worse, the week before, the national skinhead party had announced a nationwide deployment of skinheads, and these clowns show up on cue. NAACP poll monitors there to aid voters see voters turn away upon seeing the skinheads. The skinheads try to block the NAACP staff from entering the polls, and brandish the bat. The NAACP staff swear this all happened under oath. Then days later the national skinhead leader admits they were indeed deployed as part of the party activities and the use of the weapon was an "emergency response."
Worse, after claiming to banish these two skinheads, video emerges with the national leader standing on stage with the two at a rally, praising them and welcoming them back into the skinhead nation.
Every American knows what should happen on these facts. Sadly, these facts are precisely identical to what happened in Philadelphia, except the races are reversed.
Someone with some intellectual honesty please explain to all of us something. In the future, how can the DOJ stop the behavior I described above? The dismissal of the case against the New Black Panthers harms future efforts to stop voter intimidation, especially on any fact pattern less egregious than what happened in Philadelphia.
The only thing devoid of intellectual honesty here is Adams' argument. Adams joined the Bush-era Justice Department voting section in 2005. According to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, the Justice Department in 2006 declined to bring charges against members of the Minutemen, one of whom reportedly carried a gun while they allegedly attempted to intimidate Hispanic voters outside a polling station in Arizona. By contrast, the Justice Department under the Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, the member of the New Black Panther Party who carried a weapon outside a polling station on Election Day 2008. The Obama DOJ has also requested additional judgment against black leaders in Mississippi who were found to have discriminated against white voters.
Of course, in 2006 Fox News never told the media to cover the alleged voter intimidation.
After reporting on the right-wing accusation that racial bias motivated the Justice Department to drop charges against members of the New Black Panther Party, major print outlets have not reported that the Republican vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has stated that conservatives on the panel are using the issue to try to "topple the [Obama] administration."
Fox News figures have used J. Christian Adams' unsubstantiated allegations to suggest that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder were involved in the Justice Department's decision in the New Black Panthers case. However, Adams himself testified that he had no "indication" that the decision involved anyone "higher up" than an acting assistant attorney general.
Race-baiting has been a central element to the phony New Black Panthers scandal from the start, despite the fact that right-wing activist J. Christian Adams' accusations do not stand up to the evidence. But court filings earlier this week, in which the Obama Justice Department is asking a federal court to extend its injunction against black leaders in Mississippi for discriminating against white voters, should end once and for all the scurrilous accusation that the Obama administration is hostile to prosecuting black defendants on behalf of white victims.
In 2007, a federal court found that Ike Brown, the black chairman of the Noxubee (Mississippi) County Democratic Executive Committee, had engaged in systematic discrimination against white voters and appointed Judge Reuben Anderson to oversee Democratic primaries and runoffs though 2011. The Associated Press called the case "the first of its kind in the country, accusing black political leaders of discriminating against white voters." Earlier this week, the Obama Justice Department filed a motion to prevent Brown from establishing a closed Democratic Primary that the DOJ argued would discriminate against white voters. The Justice Department asked the court to extend its 2007 injunction for two years and to ensure that Brown could not seek to implement voting changes during that time. The DOJ's actions in the Noxubee case further destroys the accusation leveled by right-wing activists that the Obama Justice Department is engaging in race-based justice.
Incredibly, J. Christian Adams and The Washington Times present the DOJ's handling of the case as further evidence of its hostility toward white victims. In a July 13 Pajamas Media post, Adams wrote that "the Department of Justice blew an opportunity to put to rest the issue of whether they are willing to enforce the Voting Rights Act in a race-neutral fashion by objecting to a request by a proven discriminator to further discriminate." Adams said that the Justice Department's handling of the case showed that "they do not want whites and Asians, when they are the discriminated-against minority, to be protected under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act." According to The Washington Times, the Obama Justice Department "did not object" to Brown's request and "issued a 'no determination' letter that ... effectively leaves the issue open for another day."
Six Fox News shows have discussed the phony New Black Panthers scandal during a total of 95 segments since Megyn Kelly's June 30 interview hyping the unsubstantiated allegations of right-wing activist J. Christian Adams. In all, these Fox shows have devoted more than eight hours of airtime to discussing the New Black Panthers.
From the July 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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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.