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  • Wash. Post: New Black Panthers controversy "fueled by partisan hyperbole, conspiracy theories and misinformation"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an October 4 editorial headlined "Right call on the Black Panthers," The Washington Post wrote that the phony New Black Panthers scandal "has been fueled by partisan hyperbole, conspiracy theories and misinformation." The editorial concluded, "Far from acting recklessly, the Justice Department did what every law enforcement entity is ethically obligated to do: press only those charges that are supported by evidence." From the editorial:

    Critics charged the Obama Justice Department with refusing to apply civil rights law in a colorblind fashion; the Justice Department, they argued, would never have watered down the case had the alleged wrongdoers been white. The matter made headlines again last week because of allegations by Christopher Coates, the Justice Department lawyer who originally brought the case, that the voting rights section has long been "hostile" to anything but cases in which minorities are victims, not perpetrators. These assertions should be explored by the department's Office of Inspector General in its review of the voting rights section.

    But even Mr. Coates did not offer specific evidence that the department acted improperly. For example, there is no evidence that [King Samir] Shabazz's actions were directed or incited by the party or its national leader; the party essentially repudiated Mr. Shabazz in a posting on its Web site and later suspended the Philadelphia chapter. The second Black Panther at the voting facility was a certified poll watcher and appears not to have verbally or physically attempted to intimidate voters.

    Much of the controversy that has surrounded this case for more than a year has been fueled by partisan hyperbole, conspiracy theories and misinformation. Far from acting recklessly, the Justice Department did what every law enforcement entity is ethically obligated to do: press only those charges that are supported by evidence.

    Indeed, the right-wing media -- led by Fox News -- have relied on completely unsubstantiated allegations about what Justice Department officials have said about enforcing voting-rights laws in a racially neutral manner, rather than reporting on actions by the DOJ that clearly show it has, in fact, enforced those laws when the alleged violators are racial minorities.

  • Chances are, you wouldn't know Paladino's full of it by watching Fox

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

    Last week, Fox News spent some time advancing Republican NY Governor candidate Carl Paladino's completely baseless claim that his Democratic opponent, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, had carried on extramarital affairs, back when he was married (Cuomo is now divorced). See, in case you were unaware, Paladino has admitted to having an affair and to having a ten year old "love child" as a result of this affair. Naturally, this revelation has drawn some media attention; attention with which Paladino isn't quite thrilled. So, in turn, he accused Cuomo, too, of having had an affair in the past, while also attacking the media for not questioning Cuomo about this. The New York media was shocked at this accusation, as no one has ever alleged Cuomo had an affair--and for good reason. It seems that Paladino completely made it up, though you probably wouldn't know that from watching Fox News.

  • Fox rushes to GOP candidate Meg Whitman's defense


    Following allegations that Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant, Fox News has taken pains to cast doubt on the charges, alleging a "political stunt" by her Democratic opponent and that Whitman is the "victim of a last-minute smear campaign." However, Fox personalities have criticized Timothy Geithner for similar issues.

  • FoxPAC doubles down: News Corp. gives $1 million to GOP-aligned Chamber

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    In the wake of its $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association in August, News Corp. -- parent of Fox News -- has literally doubled down on aligning itself with the conservative agenda by donating another $1 million, this time to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has reportedly devoted millions of dollars this cycle to running political ads on behalf of Republican Senate candidates. Politico reported:

    Spokesmen for News Corp. and for Fox declined to comment on the chamber contribution, or on whether Fox chief Roger Ailes, a former GOP political operative, had a role in it.


    A spokesman for the chamber, J.P. Fielder, declined to discuss or confirm a specific contribution - the chamber is fighting to continue to keep contributions secret -- but responded to a question about the Fox donation by characterizing the chamber's agenda.

    "What I can tell you is that the chamber has been and will continue to be engaged in the issue debate in this election cycle, focusing our efforts on educating voters about where candidates stand on policies that create jobs," Fielder said.

    Specifically, the chamber has said it plans to spend $75 million in connection with the 2010 election, and has so far has directed substantial amounts to Republican Senate candidates. As of Sept. 15th, the group had spent $6,747,946 airing more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project.

    Fox News has been alternately silent and shameless about the RGA contribution. It barely acknowledged the donation on air -- at least until Media Matters bought ad time on The O'Reilly Factor to inform its viewers about it. And Fox has been so blithe about the contribution that Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace named the RGA's executive director his "Power Player of the Week."

    So get to know your senior Chamber personnel, because if Wallace's RGA puff is any indication, you may be seeing more of them on Fox News. And expect Fox to say even less about the Chamber donation that it did about the RGA one.


    Media Matters VP Ari Rabin-Havt released the following statement in response to News Corp.'s latest donation:

    Fox is having it both ways right now as a news organization and political campaign. With $2 million direct from their corporate treasury invested in the defeat of Democratic candidates, it is an insult to actual journalists that the network is treated as anything other than a research, fundraising, and communications arm of the Republican Party. They don't belong in the front row of the White House briefing room, they belong at RNC headquarters.

  • Hannity complains about cherry-picking ... as he cherry-picks Sen. Murray

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    On his Fox News show tonight, Sean Hannity complained that an ad by Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson "cherry-pick[ed]" the words of his Republican opponent, Dan Webster, calling it "deceptive" and "dishonest." Hannity's outrage would have been more convincing if he hadn't been engaged in his own bit of cherry-picking earlier in the show.

    Hannity played a clip of Democratic Sen. Patty Murray saying in 2002 that Osama bin Laden was "out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. He's made their lives better. We have not done that." This segued to guest Ann Coulter -- who conveniently has a new column repeating the very same quote -- denigrating Murray as "the stupidest person on the planet" and "abject moron" and claiming that "a skeleton has a higher IQ."

    But Hannity and Coulter took Murray out of context. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported at the time:

    [Murray spokesman Todd] Webster said Murray's comments, to an honors class at Columbia River High School in Vancouver, were intended to get the students to think about America's role in the world and why bin Laden is popular in many poor countries.

    "This was not a dossier of the great works of Osama bin Laden. This is about how do we secure a better and stronger future for this country?," Webster said. "Do we close our doors and hunker down, or do we engage the rest of the world?"

    In her statement, Murray called bin Laden "an evil terrorist" who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

    "While we continue to search every corner of the globe to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al-Quaida network, should we also consider the longer-term issue of what else can be done to improve relations with all nations including the Arab world?" Murray asked. "How else can we bring America's values to those who do not understand us?"


    Michael Swetnam, co-author of a book on bin Laden and al-Qaida, said Murray's comments were mostly on the mark. He said bin Laden since 1988 has been on a mission to build schools, roads and homes for widows of those killed in the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    So, in fact, Murray was trying to explain why bin Laden was popular with some and why the United States is not, and she wasn't praising bin Laden. But don't look for Hannity to give you that context -- he's too busy hypocritically complaining about cherry-picking by others to be concerned about his own.