“No one seems to give a darn,” Megyn Kelly, the newsreader who’s been given the lead in pushing the NBPP story, recently said, with a heartfelt pout.
She’s right, of course, but what her viewers will never know is that source of the apathy isn’t the liberal media giving cover to Pres. Obama (not hardly), it’s the fact that there is no “there” there to the NBPP story.
On the other hand, there is a real story here that traditional journalists are ignoring. The attack by this giant “news” network — with its virtually unlimited resources thanks to its amoral right-wing billionaire owner/sugar daddy, Rupert Murdoch — against a tiny, radical fringe group only makes sense when viewed as part of a pattern of race baiting by the network.
Just last year, Glenn Beck mobilized his Fox audience and successfully forced the resignation of Van Jones, a White House staffer tasked with working on green issues. Jones’ crime? He had once signed a petition calling for an investigation into the Bush administration’s alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. Jones admitted signing the petition but denied that he is a truther. But what made the charge so silly is its source: Fox News is a hotbed for birthers, including particularly its biggest star, Sarah Palin.
Next, Fox put the venerable urban poverty advocacy organization ACORN out of business by running heavily doctored video purporting to show ACORN employees involved in malfeasance. Neither the revelation earlier this year that Fox knowingly ran deceptively edited footage nor the guilty plea on federal charge related to political shenanigans by the filmmaker who altered the video has prompted the network to acknowledge to its viewers that it deceived them.
Now Fox is going after the NBPP, a tiny fringe group that no one takes seriously.
What do these three disinformational campaigns have in common? Their targets are all black. Van Jones is African-American, as were, predominantly, ACORN’s inner-city clients, and as is the entire membership of the NBBP, minuscule though it may be.
Here’s Dave Weigel, from a post last week titled, “Megyn Kelly’s Minstrel Show“:
Kelly widens her eyes in a way that bespeaks both horror and anger at the subject she’s reporting on. “Shocking new video,” she’ll say, introducing a clip of the Panthers acting like idiots and yelling about “crackers” at a Philadelphia street festival. “We have a DOJ whistleblower alleging there is a discriminatory policy at the DOJ voting rights section,” she’ll say, “and no one seems to give a darn.” It’s the “darn” that ties this together — she’s not just a journalist, she’s a concerned citizen who has to bring you this story before it’s. Too. Late…
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 [Fox News host Sean] Hannity to knock down. And that’s the role the NBPP plays on Fox, frequently.
The “DOJ whistleblower” Megyn Kelly referred to is J. Christian Adams, one of the political operatives embedded into the Bush DOJ at the behest of Karl Rove and others. Adams not only misled Fox viewers, he may have committed perjury when he testified about this case earlier this year:
From the testimony of Thomas Perez, head of the Civil Rights Division, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in May:
After reviewing the matter, the Civil Rights Division determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statues. The Department did, however, file a civil action on Januarty 7, 2009, seeking injunctive an declaratory relief under 11(b) against four defendants. [See PDF]
This means that the case was downgraded to a civil case 11 days before Obama was inaugurated, 26 days before Eric Holder became attorney general, and about nine months before Thomas Perez was confirmed as head of the Civil Rights Division…
Adams also said that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes declared, “Never bring another lawsuit against a black or other national minority, apparently no matter what they do.” But according to the Raben Group, a progressive PR firm Fernades worked for prior to the Justice Department, she didn’t leave her job with them until June 22, 2009, more than six months after the criminal case against the NBPP members was dropped. Even if she did say that — and none of my sources in the Voting Section ever heard her say anything of the sort — it wouldn’t have had any bearing on the NBPP case, because she wasn’t there when it was dismissed.
[Megyn] Kelly’s obsession with the current NBPP controversy is something else, though. No one disputes that two members of the Panthers lurked outside of a heavily black, Democratic polling place in Philadelphia on election day 2008, and no one thinks this was a smart or legal thing for them to do. Police were called to the scene to disperse them, and King Samir Shabazz, who was filmed holding (though not using) a nightstick, lost the right to be a poll-watcher for the next election cycle. It was the only recorded incident like this in the nation; nearly two years later, no voter has come forward and said he or she was prevented from voting by the Panthers. And in his publicity tour to attack the DOJ over the Panther case — a second-rate case against a fifth-rate hate group — J. Christian Adams has been unable to name any case in which the DOJ was presented with a crime committed by black people and chose not to prosecute it.
So why obsess over the Panthers? Is it turnabout for the way that liberals elevate the craziest tea party activists, or the way they call them racist? Because it’s obviously not a search for justice or a muckraking effort to discover reverse racism in the DOJ. If this is an effort to make sure that King Samir Shabazz is prosecuted for intimidating voters, why not try to find some voters he intimidated? Why, instead, as Kelly and Glenn Beck have opted to do, show video of the Shabazz yelling about “crackers” at a street fair before the election? No one disputes that he hates white people — just watch one of the tapes from the times Fox News invited his colleagues on to discuss how they hate white people.
Writing for Huffington Post this week, Media Matters’ communications VP Ari Rabin-Havt, suggests that Fox’s pursuit of the NBPP and other stories is part of a campaign to “Willie Hortonize” the president, referring to the Swiftboat-style ads that were run against Democrat Michael Dukakis on behalf of George Bush Sr., in the 1988 presidential campaign:
While the most infamous Willie Horton ads were created by an independent organization, it was Bush’s media consultant Roger Ailes [currently the president of Fox News] who “gleefully” told Time Magazine in August of 1988, “The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it.”
Given his history, it should be no surprise Ailes’ minions at Fox News have obsessed over the discredited 18 month-old story of alleged voter intimidation by New Black Panther Party members on the day of the 2008 election. Since June 30, Fox News has spent more than eight hours of airtime and 95 segments on the story.
And no network has done more to expose Americans to the extreme and hateful politics of the New Black Panther Party, which has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, than Fox, where the group’s spokespeople have appeared more than 50 times since 1998.
The truth is, it was President Bush’s Justice Department, not Obama’s, that made the decision not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling center in 2008. In fact, the Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party carrying a nightstick outside the polling center on Election Day.
Their mission isn’t to find the truth, but to plant the seed in viewers’ minds that maybe, just maybe, the President and the Attorney General are the same type of militants seen wielding a nightstick and repeatedly slurring whites on Fox News. As the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page wrote, “Now the New Black Panthers are being used to vilify a black president as being soft on black racism. Coming soon, I am sure, to campaign attack ads near you.”
There’s another pattern here. With the Jones and ACORN stories, Fox fanned the flames of racism among its viewers for weeks and even months until the major news outlets could no longer ignore them. By then, both Jones and ACORN were gone. In Jones’ case, the Obama White House disappointed its allies by reacting to Fox’s hypocritical scandal-mongering by doing the one thing you must never do when confronted by bullies: they capitulated and forced Jones to resign.
In the case of ACORN, the GAO, the California attorney general’s office and other investigators had clear ACORN employees of the crimes it had been accused by Fox of committing. In fact, when it was all said and done, Fox had successfully duped the mainstream media into reporting the ACORN story its way.
But even when the stories burst through into coverage by the legit media, the traditional journalists generally avoided reporting on Fox News’ political motivations in its “coverage” of the stories, much less the potential racist aspect to the network’s coverage. A cynic might suggest that reporters pull their punches about Fox because in an ever-dwindling media marketplace, they know they may find themselves seeking work from the Murdoch empire, which includes the Wall St. Journal, New York Post and other newspapers and cable channels worldwide.
Somewhat less cynically, traditional journalists have been taught to reflexively recoil from covering nastier aspects of the conservative movement lest they be branded as “liberals” and thus somehow unable to render objectivity. These are the same exorbitantly paid folks, after all, who stood by in mute silence while George Bush marched the United States off to war in Iraq on what turned out to be easily disproved phony pretexts.
It takes three to establish a pattern, and now, with its relentless attacks on the NBPP nothing-burger, here is a third story that — in a news environment that includes two wars, an economic collapse and the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history (all of which have their roots in failed Republican Party policies) — would not otherwise rise to the level of newsworthiness, and so is obviously being pushed by Fox as part of a racist political agenda.
Race baiting driving the coverage at Fox News — now there’s a story that ought to cause legitimate journalists to give a darn.